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When I Get That Feeling

I think I was in the third grade when my best friend Lisa Zimmerman and I snuck a fat paperback by Harold Robbins from her mom’s room. I had no idea what was going on, but the title was oh so appealing, The Betsy. I think I was in the fifth grade when The Godfather was secretly circulated around my class, with a page number that referenced a hot sex scene between Sonny and a bridesmaid. I was in twelfth grade when I read a book because of the title, A Spy in the House of Love, and decided that I wanted lovers instead of boyfriends. Then Marguerite Duras’ The Lover. Then, the motherlode, Henry Miller. Tropic of fuck me dead.

Todays’s topic: What are the best sex scenes you’ve ever read?

43 Responses

  1. I inhaled all of Anais Nin’s books my senior year in high school. Quite the awakening for a sixteen year-old virgin in a Catholic all-girls school. But what really did me in was Rona Jaffe’s Class Reunion, which I read just before starting calling college. I really was a case of life trying to emulate art, but I hadn’t figured out yet that I could only write my part, which did not necessitate that the other “characters” behave in such a way as to guarantee my desired happy ending.

  2. My Secret Garden. No story, all scenes. Which seemed about perfect when I was 12 and stealing it from it’s hiding place (behind my mother’s Elvis records).

  3. I can’t remember the scene per se but I do recall getting very turned on reading The Horse Whisperer. I’ve never admitted that before and, if pressed, I’ll deny it vehemently.

  4. Robbins, Hell to the yeah, Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Henry Miller, Henry Miller, Henry Miller. Histoire d’ O, The Valley of the Dolls and Duras The Lovers.

  5. This one stopped me cold. I kinda remember her with the gardener in Lady Chatterley’s Lover cuz it had some anal stuff going on or talked about and I was so young I thought, “huh?” But I don’t remember it being exciting or beautiful. When you go to write one yourself, it can be a problem cuz it is mostly, “Whatever” when you’re reading it don’t you think?

  6. O! O! You are reading my mind, Betsy. Now that we’ve entered the season of hot reads, I shall opine:

    Am perennially nostalgic for my gateway trash book, Valley of the Dolls. And I always have to follow that up with Diary of a Mad Housewife.

    I look forward to the parade of smut!

  7. When I was about 13, I found a collection of excerpts from banned literature, sex scenes of all varieties and genders, from the past several centuries. The steamiest thing I’d seen to that point was the pottery-wheel scene in Ghost, so that book was quite an education.

    Unfortunately, no single scene stands out. I skipped around a lot, so I remember the book as basically one huge orgy in text. It may have had introductions to put the excerpts in context, but if so I skipped them.

    And now, of course, I am scrolling through Amazon looking for it…

    • Might it have been The Pearl?

      • I should have googled before I wrote the above, because it turns out lots of things are called The Pearl, including something by John Steinbeck. Below is The Pearl I’m referring to, and it’s online now, with pictures! (Not photographs.) I won’t give a link in case I’m accused of pandering.

        “The Pearl was the leading erotic publication of the Victorian Age. This legendary underground magazine first appeared in London in July, 1897. It lasted for glorious eighteen months, and then vanished. During its year and a half of publication, The Pearl serialized six novels that have become classics in the field of erotic literature. The magazine also featured short stories and verse celebrating the sensual pleasures and the pursuit of lovemaking in all its myriad forms. Among the pearls of erotic literature to be found in are “Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It,” “Sally’s Mistake,” “The Marriage Morn,” “The Sultan’s Reverie,” and the fabled, “Miss Coote’s Confession.”

      • I don’t think that was it; I remember there being more recent stories. There was one involving… virtual reality pods? Or something? It was very out of place with all the historical stuff. (Oddly, I don’t remember anything set in the late 20th century. More like a jump straight from the 1920s to The Future. Of course, that could have been my nonlinear reading habits, too.)

        But thank you for the suggestion! I am going to go read The Pearl now. It’s research, I swear.

    • cavedueller: You just unearthed a memory for me. I read Fanny Hill, parts of it, anyway, when I was like eight or ten years old. I couldn’t make head nor tail of it (ha!), but it did have some kind of effect. And then around the same time, I came upon a book called The Way We Are. I don’t remember the author’s name, but I do recall the blurb: “The story of a brazen and beautiful young girl, hurtling toward destruction.” And then there was Jackie Susann’s, The Love Machine. It’s a wonder I held on to my virginity until I was eighteen and a half.

      I grew up in a motel, and whatever people left behind in their rooms, my mom tossed, uncensored, into mine.

  8. Ok. Did anyone but me read The Harrad Experiment?! I must have been 12 or 13. Yikes! And the original Our Bodies, Our Selves provided fodder for self exploration (tittilating yet oh so boring, all at the same time), also when I was 13. Everything after those formative years kind of paled in comparison to real life. Ahem. And then there’s Chapter 4 of that first draft I wrote, which is pretty darn sexy. Enough so that I can’t read it aloud without blushing.

  9. Exit to Eden by Anne Rampling/Anne Rice knocked my socks off when I was fifteen.

    Not just because I didn’t have a clue about . . . well, much of anything not covered in Judy Blume’s Forever. . . but because it was the first book I’d read that explained that sex is easy, but intimacy and closeness and trust is damn difficult.

  10. The best sex scenes I’ve ever read were the scenes in Cocked, my unpublished novel from the mid-1990s.

  11. OMG, the Dominick Dunne scene where the “hero” gets caught for doing a babe when his wife smells the other woman on her husband’s hands. That was sexy! There’s also the matted hair/attic scene in The Monk, an old bodice-ripper from Victorian times.

    • Sweet friend. . . XO

    • Well duh. I thought that was a given. Like certain math non-variables. I still think about Nigel.

      • That Nigel. . . .

        When I was maybe 13, I read a book about several teens at summer camp who ended up running for their lives or something. I remember nothing about the plot, title or author, but that book definitely fell open to certain page numbers and had to be hidden between the mattresses.

        Forever was great, too. And more recently, Broken by Megan Hart.

  12. My cousin had a novel that had a Playgirl logo on it (as I recall), so I figured it would have some good raunch. And LO! It did not let me down. I had no idea what any of the stuff meant, but I relayed key dialogue to my friends and we giggled over it for months.

    I feel a bit sad for today’s kids with their Internets. They’ll never have the same experience of knowing but not really knowing.

  13. For raw titillation, there’s nothing better than Candy. Don’t remember who it’s by, but you may need to take a break when reading ;-).

  14. Water of Life, by Henry Morton Robinson. I read this at my Canadian grandmother’s when I was maybe 13. In those days 13 was relatively innocent, so this book BLEW MY MIND. It provided a rich foundation for my 50+ years of personal fantasy. I stole it from my grandmother and smuggled it across the border in a blanket.

    I googled it just now to find the author (I didn’t care who wrote anything in those days), and the blurb on Wiki says, “Impact of whiskey-making on three generations of an Indiana family.” I guess there was whiskey. All I remember is the endless varieties and locations and participants of sex.

  15. I have no idea what it was called, but some bodice-ripper romance novel I found at my grandmother’s beach house that involved a sort-of-rape scene (but, you know, she actually totally wanted it, in spite of herself) involving a pirate and his beautiful captive. I was thirteen. Hot stuff.

  16. All hail Averil the reigning Queen of hot writing. But if we’re talking those scenes that awakened young lust I’d have to say Summer of ’42, snuck in moments of terror at the thought of being caught, just waiting for the scandalous scene. I was too young to grasp the significance, but they did *it* and that was all that mattered.

    • Do I get a tiara?

      I just remembered the summer my parents borrowed a friend’s camper, and we set off, campground-hopping up the coast. The friend had left a book of hardcore porn under a seat cushion. My sister and I found it, read it, and went OMG, what the hell?? We put it away minutes later, but I kept sneaking back.

      One day when I looked for it, the book was gone. Its disappearance was never discussed.

  17. Judy Blume’s Forever and then, Wifey. Interview With a Vampire, something about the absolute possession. Most likely my favorite part of high school was my extracurricular reading.

  18. Definitely Valley of the Dolls and I think there was something about Forever Amber that seemed so naughty at the time. I might have to read Interview with a Vampire again. Those early Ann Rice’s were so good.

  19. hmmm. walter mosley writes consistently sexy scenes and books. i like the noir feel.

  20. Library scene in Atonement.

  21. Bar none, Jeffrey Eugenides writing about The Obscure Object. It first ran in The New Yorker as an excerpt and I had to put the magazine down and take a break under the covers.

  22. I thought Gone With The wind was extremely hot. I was 14.

    Now I’m 55 and have zero interest in reading sexy-time novels or erotic memoirs. It’s all so very repetitious.

    However, The Glee Project never disappoints.

  23. Pick a page, any page, from Girls by Nic Kelman. Very explicit, and soooo good.

  24. I’ve just made a real long list. . .

  25. Not the best, but the one that left the biggest impression on me growing up was Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, the scene with Tra La La exposing her breasts in the bar. Unfortunately, the scene ends with her brutalized – which fit right in with my strict religious up bringing. Till then I had been writing about the Blessed Virgin, but after reading that book, I wrote my first paragraphs about sex. And the beat goes on…

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