The Best Smutty Books, According To Real-Life Sex History Expert

If you’ve been on #Booktok recently, you might be familiar with the terms #spicybook or #smut. 

More than ever, people are sharing recommendations and reviews, arguing over characters and tropes and more. 

But the popularity has also broken outside of the confines of the internet, with smut series making the New York Time Best Sellers list. 

So, what’s behind this boom in extremely raunchy books, and what are the must-read smutty books for aficionados? 

The Briefing podcast spoke to Esmé Louise James about why people love sexy books and what’s top of her bedside reading pile

“Far more than other visual forms of media—this is a form where people are able to put themselves into a fantasy in a very safe way, so you know that no one’s been hurt, and let the imagination, uh, kind of do its thing,” she explained.

“So social media has really normalised the reading of smut, which, again, prior to that, had been very academic and elite. Then it seemed that you had to change the cover of the book to be able to read it in public, and now you see people reading fairy smut all over the place. Every time I see someone read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m like, ‘Girl, I know what’s up.’ 

Esme’s Best Smutty Books 

Fanny Hill  – John Cleland, 1749. “You have to go back to your original pornographic novel. That is a wonderful book. It’s funny. It’s light hearted again. It’s very inclusive 

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas, 2015.

“I’ve mentioned A Court of Thorns and Roses – many, many times, and I think that is a great gateway for a lot of people into this world of both romance and SMA.” 

Dangerous Liaisons – Choderlos de Laclos, 1782

“I want to put Dangerous Liaisons on them. Dangerous Liaisons is the book that inspired cruel intentions. The cult classic from the early 2000s. And there’s a reason that everyone loves that movie and that story and why we tell it so many times. So I think dangerous liaisons.”

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