Erotic novel: this is the secret to the success of erotic literature

L.Iterative preferences are as varied as the range of tastes in an ice cream shop: some prefer bloodthirsty mysteries, others like humorous novels or exciting non-fiction books – and there are fans of erotic fiction too. Perhaps it has been discussed among friends that someone likes to read how exciting the sexual adventures of others are. However, it has long been considered an unspoken taboo to openly admit that you prefer a book that is mostly about sex and eroticism.


That changed when in 2015 the film adaptation of the novel series “Fifty Faces of Gray” by Erika Leonard was released. That they are the millionth bestseller under a pseudonym EL James published four years earlier, perhaps shows what the image of erotic literature has been for a long time. There are arguments about the literary quality of the trilogy, which tells the story of young student Anastasia Steele and six-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire Christian Gray, and his love of BDSM. Since then, however, women and men have spoken much more openly about their preferences for erotic literature.

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What fascinates readers in erotic novels?

Scientists from the Institute of Empirical Aesthetics Max Planck, this very question was addressed. Until now, the canon of erotic literature has been little studied by scholars. In their study, published in the journal Humanities and Social Communications, they asked about 420 men and women, on average between the ages of 20 and 40, about their reading experience.

Most of the respondents were heterosexual women in stable relationships with an above-average level of education. They described themselves as avid readers who like to share their reading experiences with others. As a result, the study is obviously not representative, but it gives a good insight into the secret behind the success of erotic literature. We found that most of the reading time is about distractions.

This is the secret to the success of erotic novels

Source: Muniz

Earlier research has identified a clear picture of sexual practices as the primary motive for readers. However, a study by the Max Planck Institute shows that this is only one of many reasons – and not the most important one. The bluntness of erotic representations gives the reader an orientation on his own life. However, most of the respondents indicated that when reading, they first felt the “feeling of lightness” and “charmed” the novels. So you want to turn off and relax with a light reading.

For many, it is also important to know the novel so that you can engage in discussions with friends and acquaintances. Only a minority felt ashamed when reading the titles. In addition, the basic plot, location and characterization of the male and female characters in the novel are much more important to many than the description of the sexual scenes. The fact that it is a true love story is of secondary importance to many when they turn to an erotic novel.

Books like Fifty Shades of Gray are viewed as feminist

Cinema premiere - Fifty Shades of Gray

Actors Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson (left) in a scene from “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Source: pa / dpa / Universal Pictures

The way in which study participants related to the portrayal of gender roles in erotic plots was also surprising. Contrary to the assumption that such works portray women more as sexual objects, many have argued that the modern erotic bestseller portrays a very positive gender image as a literary scholar and the study’s first author, Dr. Maria E. Kraxenberger in the press release of the institute explains:

Many study participants found erotic novels to be, at least to some extent, emancipated, feminist, and progressive.

The researcher explains that this result can be attributed primarily to more traditional perceptions of respondents about male and female gender roles.

If you read erotic literature, then less great world literature

This is the secret to the success of erotic novels, according to research

Source: Marcusu

This became apparent when study participants were asked what erotic literature titles they had read before. Of over 400 respondents, nearly 82 percent said they had received “Fifty Shades of Gray.” Japanese-American writer Sylvia Day’s Crossfire, about a college graduate’s romance with her new boss at an advertising agency, and a series of novels by Anna Todd, about an elaborate college romance, took second and third place.

Little was mentioned about famous examples of erotic literature such as Nabokov’s Lolita. The data show, the researchers say, that most of the readers participating in the study would associate the term primarily, if not exclusively, with modern bestsellers – and that also says something about why this type of book may be the norm. so popular.

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All the titles often cited by respondents tell a similar story based on the “Fifty Shades of Gray” model: it is about sex, criminal machinations about which no one is allowed to know anything, and tells something like a Cinderella story that is almost always traumatized by past. In short: in just a few pages, these novels describe all the extreme light and dark sides of life. In addition, many of these bestsellers only really became known through social media and movie adaptations. Since all of this is part of everyday media use, most people get curious and end up reading these novels.

Erotic fiction is perhaps much more fun, shallow entertainment and the fact that you may have something to say than that these novels are sexy bedtime reading.

This article was first published in May 2021.

Which erotic novel have you read recently, isn’t that your fairy tale at all? Share your reading tips in the comments!

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