9 Sex Literature Excerpts That Prove It Actually Is Possible To Write A Sex Scene In A Genuinely Hot Way

Sex is notoriously difficult to write about. Even celebrated authors struggle to describe this basic, essential human behavior in ways that are actually sexy. Too often, their best attempts still fall into the realms of the too cheesy, too flowery, too technical, too cold, or too … icky to work. As readers, most of us are only too familiar with the feeling of reading a book, being happily absorbed in the plot, only to be ripped out of that absorption by a terribly written love scene. Bad sex in books is so common that the Literary Review even has an annual competition to award the worst sex scenes in literature. 2014’s nominees ranged from Ben Okri (the eventual “winner”) to Haruki Murakami. One nominated passage from ­Desert God by Wilbur Smith featured this sparkling libido killer:

[Her breasts] were perfect rounds, white as mare's milk and tipped with ruby nipples that puckered as my gaze passed over them.

Her body was hairless. Her pudenda were also entirely devoid of hair. The tips of her inner lips protruded shyly from the vertical cleft. The sweet dew of feminine arousal glistened upon them.

I know. I'll give you a moment to recover.

This is all a way of saying that, even in great literature, good writing about sex is hard to come by, which is why I have gathered 9 passages from what by most would be described as “literary fiction” that are, in my completely subjective opinion, actually hot. Some of these passages aren’t even actually sex scenes, per se (ahem, Dracula), but they are sexy, and they all avoid the word “pudenda” (Thank goodness).

Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus

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Bram Stoker, Dracula

I lay quiet, looking out under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.

… The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and could feel the hot breath on my neck. … I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.

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James Joyce, Ulysses

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Kate Chopin, “The Storm

They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world.

The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached.

When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life's mystery.

D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

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Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

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Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet

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Images: Kate Ter Haar/Flickr; Giphy (3); Wikimedia