Fifty Shades of…Something Else to Read!

Whoever told you that classic literature is boring never read this book!

Maybe you’ve read one or all three of E.L. James’s red-hot (and shaded in another color) works of erotic fiction. Have you? I have not.

If you’re searching for something you don’t need to read behind a brown paper wrapper, try one of these gems instead. They all triggered obscenity trials and book bans back in the day!

Lady Chatterley and Her Lover Do It in a Forest: You want hot sex à la Anastasia Steele and Alexander Christian (oopsy-daisy!) Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey? See if this might do: Constance (Connie) Reid Chatterley, the focus of desire in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, has understood the meaning of the phrase “dangerous liaisons” since her teen years.

When her new husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, returns from WWI, he is paralyzed from the waist down. And so, Sir Cliff can’t offer traditional pleasure to his not-so-blushing bride. Subsequently, Connie releases her urges via Oliver Mellors, the Chatterley estate’s gamekeeper.

One fine day after a social call, Connie accidentally encounters Mellors in the nearby  woods. Connie has half an hour to spare, so…

“For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering. then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange trills rippling inside her. Rippling, rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance, exquisite, exquisite and melting her all molten inside.”

They have sex like animals on the forest floor, non-disclosure agreement not required. The book’s author, D.H. Lawrence, privately printed the book in 1928. However, it wasn’t available in either England (1960) or America (1959) until after the publishers endured two separate, high-profile obscenity trials!


Tropics (in France), Cancer (Not Really), Lots of Lovers and Prostitutes: Considered by many of the 20th century’s literati (especially George Orwell) as a masterpiece, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer dwells in the seamy, gritty streets of Paris circa the late 1920s/early 1930s. The book follows Miller’s semi-autobiographical narration as a writer struggling to make a go of it amongst his circle of bohemian friends.

I’ll admit that the rambling, stream-of-consciousness plot might frustrate you. Oh, and Henry Miller recounts all of his sexual escapades quite explicitly. He also drops the C-bomb (rhymes with grunt) frequently when discussing women.

The main reasons to read this book are Miller’s poetic use of language and his sly observations on the human condition. I sincerely doubt you’ll find anything in Fifty Shades of Grey as profound as this second-to-last paragraph in Tropic of Cancer:

“Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space – space even more than time.”

Although the book was first published in Paris in 1934, Tropic of Cancer was banned from washing up on American shores until 1961. Naturally, Henry Miller’s nefarious little nugget triggered many obscenity lawsuits in multiple states when retailers tried selling the book to the public! The U.S. Supreme Court overruled all individual state courts and deemed Tropic of Cancer non-obscene in 1964.


Leopold Bloom’s Self-Pleasuring Ignites Sky Rockets and Publishing Fights: At first, I hesitated to include James Joyce’s Ulysses because it’s more than a book – it’s a cerebral adventure that will leave you more dizzy and nauseous than the craziest “upside down” ride.

This incredibly long tome details a day in the Dublin, Ireland, life of Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904 (now known as Bloomsday to Joyce fans all over the world). This book is revered by many scholars for the language play and clever humor embedded all throughout its pages. Here is one brief example:

“British Beatitudes!…Beer, beef, business, bibles, bulldogs, battleships, buggery and bishops.”

But this isn’t why obscenity trials and book bans plagued Joyce’s masterpiece. Of the 18 “episodes” in Ulysses, unlucky Episode 13, “Nausicaa,” is where an alleged dirty deed takes place. Here is the aftermath:

“Mr. Bloom with careful hand recomposed his wet shirt. O Lord that little limping devil. Begins to feel cold and clammy. Aftereffect not pleasant. Still you have to get rid of it someway. They don’t care. Complimented perhaps.”

If you love word play and don’t mind a plot that folds upon itself like mental origami, reserve a copy of Ulysses from your local library and let the perplexing merriment begin.

There are other “scandalous” offerings you might consider reading, rather than “Fifty Shades of a Pending Film Deal and Its Two Sequels.” Here is the “Top 10” list that inspired this blog post; take a quick look and enjoy!

Now back to my original question: Have you read any of the Fifty Shades books? If so, what did you think? What other books might you suggest for a reader in need of erotic stimulation? Please, don’t hold back – just let your suggestions unfurl themselves and land where they may…

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.