[Love & Sex Issue 2014]

Not just ‘Fifty Shades’: Three erotic books worth reading


The Sexual Life of Catherine M.

By Catherine Millet, 2001, $12.

Unselfconscious. Graphic. That’s the kind of pleasure Catherine Millet gives in this dissection of her sexual past. The French writer and art critic recalls colorful episodes of physical gratification without a drop of salacious glee. Whether musing on the feminist approach to masturbation or the sensory details of a teenage orgy, Millet approaches her animal hungers—and examinations of desire itself—with dispassionate curiosity and honesty.

Smut: Volume 1

Editors of, 2008, $16.

In the introduction to the first in an excellent series of anthologies of erotic fiction, founder Rufus Griscom writes that sex as a topic is covered in strip malls of cliché. But it is possible to turn people on while writing beautifully, he insists, and the lissome prose of talents like Robert Olen Butler and Alice Sebold back him up. As gorgeous as the writing, each photograph is worth at least 1,000 breathless words.

Lost Girls

By Alan Moore, art by Melinda Gebbie, 2006, $45.

A force in the graphic-novel realm, Alan Moore proved with works like Watchmen and V for Vendetta that he’s comfortable making readers uncomfortable. Lost Girls is on another level, Moore’s brisk words and Melinda Gebbie’s lush illustrations peeling away the innocence of storybook heroines Alice, Dorothy and Wendy. Pornographic, psychologically layered and swirling with taboos, the pages come from a creative process that took 16 years.

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