I'll admit it: steamy sex scenes in books taught me a lot of what I know about the birds and the bees. That may seem like a giant bookworm cliche, but it's absolutely true. As a young, impressionable girl, I had a distant idea of how babies were made. I had an idea that pregnancy existed, but I didn't know the specifics.
I still remember being ten years old and being a bit dubious when a friend of the family announced her pregnancy. At the time, her belly was completely flat. I didn't know where the baby was, but it was the how that really confused me. That question got me for years, until, in my early teen years, I began to read the romance novels that I found in the basement of my childhood home. I still remember the first one I ever read — Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey. The idea of sex for pleasure was totally and completely baffling. Now? I'm all about it. Bring on the literary sex; it's practically better than the real thing! Books may not exactly keep you warm at night, but they'll definitely give you some mental fodder to help you make your own heat.
I love a good sex scene, especially if it's in a more literary novel. There's something really surprising about reading a raunchy sex scene in a novel that's supposed to be "serious." It's like watching a librarian bend over to find out that she's wearing some sexy thigh highs under the pencil skirt. It's surprising — and incredibly welcome.
I've compiled a list of epic sex scenes from literature to get our pulses racing. Sit back and relax, because you're in for a wild ride!
1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatjie
“On Hassanein Bey’s lawn—the grand old man of the 1923 expedition—she walked over with the government aid Roundell and shook my hand, asked him to get her a drink, turned back to me and said, “I want you to ravish me.” Roundell returned. It was as if she had handed me a knife. Within a month I was her lover. In that room over the souk, north of the street of parrots.
I sank to my knees in the mosaic-tiled hall, my face in the curtain of her gown, the salt taste of these fingers in her mouth. We were a strange statue, the two of us, before we began to unlock our hunger. Her fingers scratching against the sand in my thinning hair. Cairo and all her deserts around us.Was it my desire for her youth, for her thin adept boyishness? Her gardens were the gardens I spoke of when I spoke to you of gardens."
2. A Certain Age by Rebbecca Ray
"I don’t know what made it happen. I don’t know what made the change. But looking up at his face…I felt myself get wet. It came from inside and I could feel the muscles flowing, giving out that liquid…And Oliver smiled down at me, so I guess he could feel it too. He turned me over and I heard the towel fall, crumple on the floor. I heard it, even with my face crushed in the carpet…Hard and steady on the back of my head, I could feel his fingers tangle in my hair. His palm print on my neck. It was a good feeling. And I got wetter."
3. A House Like A Lotus by Madeleine L'Engle
“…And he was kissing me again, and slipping the shorty nightgown over my head. His strong and gentle hands began to stroke me, his hands, his lips, his tongue.Gentle. Not frightening. Knowing what he was doing. I felt my nipples rise, and it startled me.‘Shhh,’ Renny whispered. ‘Shhh, it’s all right, don’t worry, just relax and listen to your body.’He was slow, rhythmic, gentle, moving down my body, down …and I was nothing but my bodythere was a sharp brief painbriefand then a sweet spasm went through meand I seemed to rise into the airno more painjust the sweetnessthe incredibleoh, theand then Renny, pantingI pressed him hard against me.”
4. The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
"He thrusts once, cautiously. He thrusts again, and he’s gone, he’s off into the careening nowhere. He lives for seconds in that soaring agonizing perfection. It’s this, only this, he’s lost to himself, he’s no one, he’s obliterated, there’s no Tyler at all, there’s only… He hears himself gasp in wonder. He falls into an ecstatic burning harmedness, losing, lost, unmade."
5. The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
"He slips his hands under her cotton vest and her body spasms and slackens and he cups her small, cold breasts in his hands and feels the hard pearls of her nipples, like tiny secrets, against the barked palms of his hands. He feels the gradual winding down of her dying heart and can see a bluish tinge blossoming on the skin of her skull through her thin, ironed hair. He puts his hands under her knees and manoeuvres her carefully so that her bottom rests on the edge of the settee. He slips his fingers underneath the worn elastic of her panties that are strung across the points of her hips, slips them to her ankles and softly draws apart her knees and feels again a watery ardour in his eyes as he negotiates a button and a zipper. It is exactly as he imagined it – the hair, the lips, the hole – and he slips his hands under her wasted buttocks and enters her like a f*cking pile driver."
6. Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore
"After Elias had entered her and after she wrapped herself around him as he’d made love to her, allowed herself in that single moment to be carried, Sharon stood, zipped up her slacks, slipped on her blouse, and said to Elias that since he didn’t have a house to go to, he could have the room, she was going home. But then he reached his hand out and grabbed her by a belt loop. “Stay with me.” His mouth was at her ear. He kissed her nape. “Don’t leave,” he’d said, unzipping her pants for the second time.”
7. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
"....and then it was wet, and she was wet, and we were wet, rocking together beneath a small patch of overcast sky, brightening fast, her eyes watching the day come, one hand kneading her dress, the other hand under he dress needing herself, her blonde hair covering her face, her knees tightening around my rids, until she finally met that calendrical coming without a sound—the only sign—and then even though I had not come, she kissed me for the last time and climbed out of the hammock and went inside."
8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
"Ammu, naked now, crouched over Velutha, her mouth on his. He drew her hair around them like a tent. Like her children did when they wanted to exclude the outside world. She slid further down, introducing herself to the rest of him. His neck. His nipples. His chocolate brown stomach. She sipped the last of the river from the hollow of his navel. She pressed the heat of his erection against her eyelids. She tasted him, salty, in her mouth. He sat up and drew her back to him. She felt his belly tighten under her, hard as a board. She felt her wetness slipping on his skin. He took her nipple in his mouth and cradled her other breast in his calloused palm. Velvet gloved in sandpaper."
9. The Cipher by Kathe Koja
"Gone as usual in the morning, and me left behind and naked, inner thighs lightly scaled with the dried spoor of our lovemaking: she liked to stay on top afterward and let the juice run down, and I liked whatever she liked. Imagining in the shower that I could smell her still, the angular scent of those secret bones, had she always smelled so fierce and so good? Recalling those gone times, old memories lit by the fire of the new, I did not this time wonder how long it would last; I was too smart for that now."
10. Fanny Hill: Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure by John Cleland
"I had it now, I felt it now, and, beginning to drive, he soon gave nature such a powerful summons down to her favourite quarters, that she could no longer refuse repairing thither; all my animal spirits then rush'd mechanically to that center of attraction, and presently, inly warmed, and stirr'd as I was beyond bearing, I lost all restraint."
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