Why Read Erotica

Learning and living vicariously through the diaries of others

Issue #15

By Vivienne Arkell

During my married years, I really didn’t understand the benefits of reading erotica. Pre Fifty Shades of Grey this genre was also called smut, trash and filth, which didn’t help make it sound any more appealing. But the day I read my first volume of erotica, my mind expanded exponentially.

When I opened the anonymously wrapped copy of The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet, I was puzzled. Where did this come from? At first I thought the mail guy had slipped it in the wrong slot, but my name was definitely on the label.

After barely a chapter, our protagonist had me mesmerized. With absolutely zero inhibitions and with diary directness and clarity, Catherine starts her tell-all detailing her first foursome as a teen. She then moves to exhibitionist group sex in a parking lot, swinger’s clubs and many other kinky sexual escapades. She opened my eyes to new extremes in female desire. My fantasies became increasingly triple X rated. I also emerged with some new ideas and techniques to try with my lover, as I was much less fearful to explore what turned me on.

For the next few months, every time I saw a brown paper wrapper in my mailbox or hallway, I got wet from excitement. My long-distance admirer, who had divulged his identity soon after the first package’s arrival, knew how I hungrily devoured the books. Plus this material he sent got kinkier and raunchier by the month.

I wasn’t sure how much more extreme I could go, when I was blessed with a reward by Anais Nin, the high priestess of erotic diaries and sensual novels.

The opening quote from Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin by Noel Riley Fitch reads “I am a writer. I would have rather been a courtesan.” This made me an instant Anais groupie. I searched everywhere for anything by her, excitedly finding Little Birds, erotica by Anais Nin. This gem, published in 1979 but apparently written in the 1940’s, is a compilation of 13 vignettes exploring passion and taking control of one’s inner sexual desires.

Peering into others’ sexual lives through erotica is a way to abandon the shame of learning what turns you on. Have an inquisitive mind? It’s a way to learn from the best uber sexual creatures – those who are adventurous, willing to kiss and tell while not concealing their sexuality, feelings and findings.

Another personal favorite, Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin, 1939-1947 by Sky Blue Press contains excerpts from Nin’s previously private diaries. As a woman who experienced many lovers and types of love and sensual sex, Nin’s diary reveals her constant search for sexual and mental fulfillment. Below, find an excerpt:

I now see that the only person who matched my sensual self was Henry, in extravagance, in love of the orgy, and in potency. The only one who matched my emotional nature in intensity and violence was Gonzalo, in his outbursts and explosions. The only one who matched my protective form of love is Hugo. The only one who matched me mystically was Jean. With Bill it is both the mystical and physical, but there is no emotional tie. He subdues me emotionally with his reserve and inexpressiveness.

Nin explored her sexuality with such abandon and wrote about it, so other women could feel free to write and read erotica. Men often prefer the rapid, visual images of porn. But most women would rather be seduced, making erotic stories of lust, foreplay and happy endings so much sexier than porn. Want to be more sexual and don’t know where to start? Diaries and novels provide examples of the sensual psyche and ways to articulate what you feel and want.

Indulge in erotica. Lower your inhibitions and celebrate female desire. Escape into fantasyland. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your sexual feelings and desires for luscious new ideas… Or to live vicariously through others. xxx

To learn more about these books and other recommendations, visit the bookshop.


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