With all the hype around the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation taking over the hearts and souls of America this Valentine’s Day, I would like to politely remind the Internet that there are many other intense, sexy and intelligent erotica books that would also be solid screen contenders. Now Fifty Shade cult fans, don’t go all crazy and refuse to read this list. Let’s just have the great erotica literature of our time and of the very distant past speak for its self.
TROPIC OF CANCER, by Henry Miller
If you haven’t read Henry Miller before, I don’t know if we can be Internet friends. But if you want to start somewhere, go with Tropic of Cancer. It was considered to be so obscene in 1930s America that the book was banned until 1964. The book is told in first person, like almost all of Miller’s work, about what it was like for struggling writers and artists in 1930s Paris. Why should the book be a feature length movie? Uh, because who wouldn’t want to watch someone portray one of America’s greatest authors as he romps around falling in and out love/having sex in cheap Parisian hotels?
WOMEN, by Chloe Caldwell
First love—it’s something we all can relate to and vividly remember. Mine was Lance Bass from NYSNC, but we all know how that turned out. But WOMEN by Chloe Caldwell amps up this experience with her brave autobiographical tale about unexpectedly falling head over heels for a woman. The story is powerful, hot and will have you thinking 2015 is the year of the lesbian. Plus, Blue is the Warmest Color showed America just how hot erotic lesbian novels can be on screen.
THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, by Anne Rice
Anne Rice more or less took the classic children’s tale Sleeping Beauty and turned the Disney princess into a sexy love slave indebted to the Prince who rescued her. Like, alright, I would easily watch 90-120 minutes of that. I swear I had a normal childhood.
VOX, by Nicholson Baker
Regarded as one of the sexiest books of all time, author Nicholson Baker really doesn’t come off like would be the dirty mind behind the super erotic and smutty novel. But the book, written in the form of a deeply alluring phone sex conversation between two strangers, was famously given as a gift to Bill Clinton from who other than Monica Lewinski. That scene in its self could make an interesting enough movie if you ask me.
NATURAL LAW, by Joey W. Hill
A big, strong cop who dominates his exterior world is secretly the submissive in a cat-and-mouse relationship. So opposite side of the coin of Fifty Shades, and trade in the suit for a police uniform and preferably Ryan Gosling as the protagonist. I think I’d like that movie a lot better.
LA VIE SEXUELLE, by Catherine Millet
Originally published in French, Catherine Millet documents her extraordinarily active and free sexual life in this controversial, yet completely mesmerizing book. From her al fresco encounters in Italy to descriptions of vivid gang bangs and high-class orgies at fancy Parisian restaurants, Millet’s graphic and honest account of her unfiltered sexuality would easily be a film worth watching.
CARRIE’S STORY: AN EROTIC S/M NOVEL, by Molly Weatherfield
Carrie’s Story combines intellect and S&M in this coming-of-age story taking place in a setting of secrecy and sensuality. The protagonist Carrie is a sex slave, who has a strong taste for irony, self-analysis and a whole lot of anal sex. It’s literally a world full of of slave auctions, training regimes and human “ponies.” So yeah, this movie would rock Fifty Shades’ world.
BLUE MOVIE, by Terry Southern
Terry Southern worked on film classics such as Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider, and even had one of his erotic books, Candy, made into a film adaptation staring Marlon Brando. But his other popular book, Blue Movie would also make an excellent adaptation. The satirical novel is about a famous film director who takes up the challenge to make an erotic motion picture. Beautifully written and saturated with incredible characters, the book is an overlooked erotic classic made for film.
COLTERS’ WOMAN, by Maya Banks
If you’re into foursomes and sharing a woman with three other dudes, then Colters’ Woman by best selling author Maya Banks is right up your alley. Oh, and those three other guys are actually your brothers. Adam, Ethan and Ryan Colters are looking for the right woman to share their beds with. Slight incest, intense/inventive love making and a whole lot of drama would make this novel a super watchable movie. Especially if you just got dumped, have a ton of wine and want to escape reality for a while.
LOLITA, by Vladimir Nabokov
The incredibly controversial 1955 novel makes Kim Kardashian and even Miley Cyrus seem tame. Literature professor Humbert Humbert, the protagonist and narrator, has a super campy sexual relationship with his 12-year-old step daughter Dolores Haze. And okay yes, technically the book has been made into several great film adaptations, but there should be a Lolita remake every twenty or so years. Especially considering it’s one of the finest pieces of literature written in the 20th Century, coming in fourth in a list compiled by the Modern Library of the greatest English-language novels. Just do it for the kids, Hollywood.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy.com. She hasn’t ever read a Twilight book. Follow her on Twitter.