When Christian Grey teased and tortured Anastasia Steele in "Fifty Shades of Grey", many bookworms around the world were exposed to erotica for the first time. No longer a dirty secret, E.L. James’ breakthrough trilogy became mainstream reading material for everyone from housewives to businessmen and senior citizens.

But despite the hype "Fifty Shades" received, these three novels are just a blip on the erotic literature landscape. In fact, there's a whole world of sexy reading out there that anyone can enjoy. And it isn't just an intellectual pursuit. Here are five reasons why reading more sensual fiction can enhance your sex life. (Did "Fifty Shades" leave with you a few sex questions? We answer the top ones in 9 "Fifty Shades" Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask.)

Erotic Literature Is for Everyone

There’s a big, wide world of erotic fiction out there waiting for you to explore it. Erotica reflects the varied tastes of men and women everywhere, so there’s bound to be something to suit your interests. If Christian and Anastasia’s BDSM antics didn’t get you going, you may prefer the tamer escapades of a steamy romance novel. If E.L. James’ basic writing style left you cold, you may warm to the acclaimed sensuality of Anaïs Nin or D.H. Lawrence. If you’re a science fiction or fantasy fan, you’ll happily note there’s erotica for you too. (Apparently, amorous encounters don’t just happen on Earth!)

Erotica doesn’t just show straight relationships and encounters either. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual couples are also well represented. These stories are ideal for members of the LGBT community, or even curious straight readers.

Erotica Will Broaden Your Horizons

We all know that what we do in the bedroom is only limited by our imaginations. When you’re running a little short on inspiration, erotica can be a powerful muse. The men and women in these novels enjoy experimenting with toys, and they can’t wait until they reach the bedroom to shed their clothes. Consider which scenes get you going and follow the story’s lead to spice up your own sex life. You needn’t recreate the scenes to the letter either. If the bondage scenes turned you on but you’re not sure about the handcuffs you read about, perhaps it’s time to invest in some silk scarves!

Erotic fiction doesn’t just introduce you to new sexual ideas; it also helps you feel comfortable with those ideas. As a reader you’ll go through the sexual experience with the characters, so it won’t seem so intimidating or embarrassing in the real world.

It's Made for Sharing

We generally think of reading as a solo pursuit, but erotic literature is perfect for sharing. Reading a chapter aloud to your partner can be great foreplay. The practice can be especially useful for anyone who’s ordinarily shy about talking dirty, as it provides a script. It can also be great fun to try sensually distracting the reader as they’re poring over the seductive passages. You could even take things further and role-play the characters after you set the book aside. Bookmark some of your favorite pages so you can flip to them next time you’re settling in for bed together. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t get to sleep right away!

It Can Get You in the Mood

While sharing erotica can be great fun, reading a sexy novel is also a delicious solo experience. Reading erotica can put you in a sexy frame of mind before you even enter the bedroom. While men are visual creatures, women need to be stimulated mentally. No wonder reading erotic literature is such a female turn-on! Women also need more foreplay than men, so reading a few chapters before spending time with your mate can provide a valuable head start.

Make note of the stories that get your blood pumping - and which ones leave you cold. Getting in touch with your personal tastes outside the bedroom will lead to more satisfying sex in it.

Erotica Can Recharge Your Libido

Erotica isn’t just for couples who are already ravenous for one another either; it can boost your libido, whether you’re a singleton with a case of missing mojo or part of a couple struggling to connect. Research shows increasing libido is as simple as getting back in touch with your body’s desires. Immersing yourself in sensual fiction is a great way to rediscover your own sexy side and seek out the type of connections you’re reading about.

Sexual counselors regularly prescribe bibiliotherapy to patients with diminished desires. They know reading erotic fiction creates a mental library of sexy images and scenes that readers can call on any time. Recalling these sensual passages doesn’t just help readers in moments of passions either. Studies show fantasizing actually increases dopamine and testosterone levels, two chemicals known to boost libido.

I’m sure our teachers probably had something else in mind when they encouraged us to read widely and read for pleasure. Yet these rules hold true for anyone discovering erotic literature. Start browsing the erotic section of your local bookstore, keep an open mind, and enjoy the journey and the rewards that follow.