The popularity of "Fifty Shades of Grey" may be the greatest literary mystery of this decade. Nobody knows why - or how - this series of books, although universally denounced by critics, has become one of the best-selling series of books ever, topping best-seller lists in the United States, the U.K. and most recently, India. It may be the captivating love story between Anastasia and Christian Grey, or it may be the kinky sex scenes that made more than a few women blush at the thought of being tied up and flogged. (And hey, no judgments. There's clearly a whole army of bondage-loving babes out there!)
But however much you loved (or hated) "50 Shades", it's hardly the only the last piece of erotic literature out there with the power to tickle your fancy. In fact, there's tons of excellent BDSM erotica that will make you forget all about Christian Grey (in a good way, I swear!). Here are five even better alternatives to spice up your reading life. (Got questions? We've got answers! Check out 9 "Fifty Shades" Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask."
"The Story of O" by Pauline Réage"The Story of O" is one of the few erotica classics that have made the literary canon. Written in the 1960s, it tells the story of a young French woman, O, who is sent by her lover to a "château" where she will be initiated to the life of a sex slave and go back into the world as his possession to keep … or give away.
The introduction itself is full of imaginative possibilities; O recounts the moment her lover asked her to become his slave in three different ways. Which one is the truth? Even the narrator doesn’t know. The story is a symbol of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, but it has aged very well. The intensity of the emotions and the raw sexuality filling the few pages of this book will make you forget the repetitive scenes that got "Fifty Shades" so much bad press.
"The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy" by Anne Rice (under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure)In a recent interview for a cultural magazine on Canadian radio, I heard Anne Rice say that she wrote these books out of pure pleasure. She explained that contrary to "50 Shades", the story in her "Sleeping Beauty Trilogy" is only there to support the many sexual situations she puts Sleeping Beauty through. The heroine begins in a castle where she learns how to be a princess. She moves on to a village, where she becomes a slave to ordinary men. She is then captured by a sultan to serve in his palace. Each book portrays one setting and describes Beauty’s sexual awakening through these experiences.
If you are a fan of Anne Rice, you’ll find these short erotic novels delightful. They are sexy and fun and totally unpretentious. Unlike in "50 Shades", there is no relationship to work through, no man to change or save; it’s just Beauty and her sexual adventures, and it’s very refreshing … and exciting.
"Diary of a Submissive" by Sophie Morgan"Diary of a Submissive" is the true account of Sophie Morgan’s relationship with James, a dominant man who has sexually enslaved her for their mutual pleasure. Sophie Morgan is a smart, witty journalist who holds nothing back, and this book is the result of her experience as a submissive.
Raw, daring and honest, this book lifts the veil surrounding real-life BDSM relationships. While "50 Shades" is a fantasy, "Diary of a Submissive" presents you with the real thing: real pain, real pleasure, and yes, real love, the way it happens in modern BDSM relationships. It’s not for the faint of heart, but anyone interested in memoirs and real-life accounts of sexual experiences can’t miss this book. (Thinking about adding some BDSM play to your love life? Read Why Bondage Can Be So Much Fun.)
"Carrie's Story" by Molly WeatherfieldImagine Carrie, a Berkeley comparative literature Ph.D., feminist and bike messenger. One day, at a party among some of San Francisco’s kinkiest stars, she meets Jonathan, a wealthy architect who offers to introduce her to the mysteries of BDSM sex. This is how "Carrie’s Story" begins, and I can tell you it’s a fun ride.
The best part of this book is Carrie herself. Weatherfield wrote a witty, intelligent character who looks at this experience with humor and self-awareness. She can never stop herself from analyzing her relationship with Jonathan. What does the pain mean? What’s the best way to have anal sex? Why does she like playing pony so much? Compared to Anastasia, Carrie is a downright genius, and you’ll love her for it.
"The Siren" by Tiffany ReiszThis book was one of the runaway literary successes of the summer of 2012. The book's heroine, Nora, is a popular erotica writer and professional dominatrix with literary ambitions. A prestigious New York house agrees to publish her work, but she has three weeks to completely rewrite her novel. As her relationship with her editor deepens and her secrets are revealed, will she be able to finish on time?
Not only is this a fantastic erotic novel, but it’s also an amazing novel, period. The characters are complex and fascinating, the world of Nora’s dungeon is both scary and attractive, and the nature of love, guilt and sacrifice are explored with such depth that I could not put it down. It is the ultimate anti-"50 Shades": no idealized hero, no blank slate of a heroine, and a balance between the physical and the intellectual that I have only seen in the most celebrated literary works. If you had to read a single book from this list, choose this one.
What are your favorite BDSM erotica books? Share your finds with us!