Why do we read sex?

1 April 2014 by 14 Comments

Sex Month literary friction

(UPON US. Get it? No? Eh, it was 1:30 in the morning, cut me a break here. IT IS A JOKE ABOUT BEING MOUNTED OR SOMETHING.)

I’ve been hinting a bit about an upcoming blog event, and the day has arrived: for the month of April, your faithful booksluts will be blogging about sex.

Sex in books, I mean.

From the most prolific Harlequin writers to the most esteemed literary giants, a great many authors take a stroll through the red light district of literature, letting us peek in on their characters during one of the most intimate acts that we do as humans. Sometimes it’s heated; sometimes it’s loving; sometimes it’s shocking, twisted, or violent. A sex scene can tell us more than we thought possible about the nature of humanity and about the characters and the person who created them. Don’t we all feel our pulses race just a bit when we turn a corner in a story and stumble upon our heroes disrobing?

Of course, all of that excitement isn’t just academic.

Why, in the age of free internet porn, do we still cozy down with a sexy book and a glass of wine (and, if we’re lucky, maybe a reading buddy)? We have the world of sex at our fingertips now; anything we want to see can be found with a few clicks. Still, we read erotic fiction–clearly, by the success of 50 Shades, many of us read erotic fiction. I can’t speak for everyone, but I still read sex because it’s a more immersive experience. I find the act of reading sex to be more erotically-charged than video pornography can almost ever be with its awkward dialogue hanging, obvious over-acting, and the reality of the people themselves intruding on fantasy. (No, I’m not even going to pretend I’ve never watched porn. We’re not coy, here.) The lighting is never overly bright in a book, and you never get those gross skin-slapping sounds when someone starts humping artlessly.

Reading sex, too, is participatory. There’s no fourth wall in a book; there’s no screen, you are in the story, you are in someone’s head. You are not a voyeur, you are a participant. You are emotionally invested; you are sexually tense. This is as much release for you as it is for the lovers. It is not a quick wank to an anonymous girl’s fake breasts, it is the culmination of a relationship that you have been a part of, if only briefly. It’s satisfying; it’s explosive. Or not, depending on how it goes, and that’s another thing that porn can’t touch: things can go wrong in sexy fiction, in ways that you never expected, in ways that leave you restless and frustrated and that much more tuned up by the whole experience. Sexy fiction can leave you vibrating.

Whew. Who needs a cigarette?

fight club marla singer smoking

So, stick around this month while we explore different avenues of sex in fiction and music. Unlike our previous week-long events, these posts will be spaced more evenly through the month; you’ll have, ah, recovery time (wink) between posts. Read by yourself or read with a friend or two–we won’t judge.

PS: You might have noticed things look a little different around here. The site has been redesigned, and we thought it would be a nice surprise to push it as hard as we could so we could launch sex month AND our new look on the same day. Many props to Heather and sj for their hard work helping me get it together! If you want to see the rest of the design, pop on over to the home page or the reviews page to check it out!


Susie is the Bitch-in-Chief at IB and is also a contributor at Book Riot. She's an ice cream connoisseur, an art fanatic, a cat-mommy of three, and a wife. She runs the @thebooksluts Twitter account and may be slightly addicted.

14 thoughts on “Why do we read sex?

  1. Can’t wait! Great sex scenes in great books (or those just okay) are one of my most favorite things. I even remember the FIRST book that “wowed” the teen me. The Other Side of Midnight.

  2. Pingback: Friday Wrap-Up: Best of March - BookPairing

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