The best kinky books published before the internet was a thing

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fifty-five years old, and I’ve been active in the BDSM lifestyle since my early twenties. My Safeword series was written because, at the time, most of the BDSM hitting the ebook market was clearly written by people who’d never felt the sting of a whip. I was certain I could do better, and eventually, after six attempts, I wrote something I thought a publisher might be interested in. Fifteen years later, I write mostly paranormal romance, but a fair amount of kink and power exchange still sneaks in. Vampires and werewolves aren’t known for submitting to others, after all.


I wrote...

Quinacridone

By Candace Blevins,

Book cover of Quinacridone

What is my book about?

What happens when an introverted artist who only likes sex when it’s a one-night stand meets a computer-geek-extraordinaire with his own sexy secrets? Objectification, romance, pain, adoration, lots of kinky toys, and oodles and oodles of wonderfully imaginative sex.

Join Cara and Travis on their journey to mesh their distinctive sexual tastes into a loving relationship with blow-your-mind kink.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Story of O

Candace Blevins Why did I love this book?

I was first introduced to The Story of O in a college psychology book, where a three-paragraph exerpt was listed, which I read and reread, over and over.

I needed the entire book, but since this was around 1987, finding one in a bookstore in Chattanooga (also known as the buckle of the bible belt) proved difficult. A friend found me a copy in Atlanta, and I devoured it.

I’d known something wasn’t normal about my sexual tastes, and this told me at least one more person on the planet felt the same as me. I wasn’t certain what to think about the fact the book was published in 1954.

I also learned about the Marquis de Sade in that psych class, but he was a bit over the top for me.

By Pauline Reage,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Story of O as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic French erotic bestseller that preceded Fifty Shades of Grey

A beautiful young French woman, known only as 'O', is taken by her lover Rene to a splendid mansion near Paris. Here, she is initiated into an elite secret society, where she must learn to serve the sexual fantasies of Rene and his fellow members. But she must also explore the nature of her own darkest desires - and confront just how far she is willing to go for love...


Book cover of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

Candace Blevins Why did I love this book?

The Beauty Series is actually three books, written as one long story: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment, Beauty's Release.

When I read the books, sometime around 1989, I didn’t know Anne Rice had written them. I only knew this was proof that yet another person felt the same as me about sex.

These books aren’t written as consensual sex, but they’re pure fantasy, so it worked okay for me then and still does today.

By A. N. Roquelaure,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey and Sylvia Day's Bared to You, there was Anne Rice's New York Times best seller The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

In the traditional folktale of "Sleeping Beauty," the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind's unconscious. In the first book of the series, Anne Rice (author of Beauty's Kingdom), writing as A.N. Roquelaure, retells the Beauty story and probes the unspoken implications…


Book cover of Mr. Benson

Candace Blevins Why did I love this book?

Mr. Benson was published in 1983, but I discovered it a decade later, in a conversation I had with people while in a BDSM club in Atlanta.

According to the gossip at the time, Anne Rice and John Preston had a contest involving both of them writing and publishing a kinky novel.

Mr. Benson is well written, and was clearly penned by someone in the lifestyle. This was also my first introduction to M/m books, and I was hooked.

By John Preston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Benson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mr. Benson is the compelling story of a young man’s quest for the perfect master. In a West Village leather bar, he finds wealthy, sophisticated, exacting Aristotle Benson, who leads him down the path of erotic enlightenment, teaching him to accept cruelty as love, anguish as affection, and ultimately, Mr. Benson as his master.

If John Preston, the masterly, handsome author of more than 30 books, was himself a gay icon, his character Mr. Benson defined the culture of gay sex for an entire generation. When Mr. Benson appeared in the pre-AIDS early 1980s, its unabashed celebration of male sexuality…


Book cover of Carrie'S Story

Candace Blevins Why did I love this book?

I’m actually recommending two books here: Carrie's Story and Safe Word – a duet telling the full story.

Whether these came before the internet was a “thing” is arguable, but they were certainly published before ebooks had a chance to change the publishing industry.

They are well written, and once again come clearly from someone who understands the lifestyle. These books are highly recommended, and come towards the end of my list mainly because I’m doing this (up to this point) chronologically.

By Molly Weatherfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Carrie'S Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Carrie's Story is regarded as one of the finest erotic novels ever written- smart, devastatingly sexy and, at times, shocking, Molly Weatherfield has penned a book that is standing the test of time alongside The Story of O and Justine in this new era of "BDSM romance," a la 50 Shades of Grey the whips and cuffs are out of the closet and "chateau porn" has given way to mommy porn. Carrie's Story remains at the head of the class, literally. Imagine The Story of O starring a Berkeley PhD candidate in comparative literature, who moonlights as a bike messenger,…


Book cover of Tarnsman of Gor

Candace Blevins Why did I love this book?

I listed the first book, but I’m actually talking about the entire thirty-seven-book Gor series, which spans the fifty-seven years from 1966 through the present day.

However, I don’t necessarily recommend this series, which is why it’s in last place, but it’s an important footnote in the history of BDSM fiction and must be mentioned.

In this fictional world, women are slaves, and there are all kinds of complicated rules about how they must act around free men. The many slave positions described in the books have made it into the modern kinky lexicon, along with other phrases and terms.

If you’re going to read one, I would suggest picking a later book at random—Norman’s craft gets a little better over time. It wasn’t terrible to start, but it’s better, later. He wrote (and is still writing) an intriguing world that obviously hooked a whole lot of readers.

There were Gor parties, with people dressed as the characters in the books, back in the mid-nineties. There may still be, but I’m old now, and no longer publicly active in the lifestyle. 

By John Norman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tarnsman of Gor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in the long-running sword-and-planet series set on a Counter-Earth, where warriors rise above the chaos of bondage and brutality.

Tarl Cabot has always believed himself to be a citizen of Earth. He has no inkling that his destiny is far greater than the small planet he has inhabited for the first twenty-odd years of his life. One frosty winter night in the New England woods, he finds himself transported to the planet of Gor, also known as Counter Earth, where everything is dramatically different from anything he has ever experienced. It emerges that Tarl is to be…


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Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

Book cover of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

Rebecca Wellington Author Of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. For most of my life, I didn’t identify as adopted. I shoved that away because of the shame I felt about being adopted and not truly fitting into my family. But then two things happened: I had my own biological children, the only two people I know to date to whom I am biologically related, and then shortly after my second daughter was born, my older sister, also an adoptee, died of a drug overdose. These sequential births and death put my life on a new trajectory, and I started writing, out of grief, the history of adoption and motherhood in America. 

Rebecca's book list on straight up, real memoirs on motherhood and adoption

What is my book about?

I grew up thinking that being adopted didn’t matter. I was wrong. This book is my journey uncovering the significance and true history of adoption practices in America. Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women’s reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, I am uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption.

The history of adoption, reframed through the voices of adoptees like me, and mothers who have been forced to relinquish their babies, blows apart old narratives about adoption, exposing the fallacy that adoption is always good.

In this story, I reckon with the pain and unanswered questions of my own experience and explore broader issues surrounding adoption in the United States, including changing legal policies, sterilization, and compulsory relinquishment programs, forced assimilation of babies of color and Indigenous babies adopted into white families, and other liabilities affecting women, mothers, and children. Now is the moment we must all hear these stories.

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

What is this book about?

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by adoption. Adoption practices are woven into the fabric of American society and reflect how our nation values human beings, particularly mothers. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women's reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, Rebecca C. Wellington is uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption. Wellington's timely-and deeply researched-account amplifies previously marginalized voices and exposes the social and racial biases embedded in the United States' adoption industry.…


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