The dating and sex scene at Columbia can seem dismal at the best of times—and it rarely gets as exciting as it does in the Flea Theater’s “Smoke.” But be not disheartened, for as every undergraduate knows, knowledge is power. Ditch the Core and get sucked into a little extracurricular reading with the following list of titillating texts, meant to empower all ye frustrated young pups in your search for a meaningful and joyful college sex life, whether it be flying solo or with your lovely lady/gentleman/other/others. Enthusiastic consent and respect are prerequisites for putting the theory that you learn here into orgasmic practice.
D.H. Lawrence—‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’
Banned books are the best books. This 1928 vintage gem was outlawed in the UK until the 1960s, and not without reason. It’s full of sex every which way you look at it—literally. Lawrence might seem tame to a generation brought up on the dank, seedy underworld of internet porn, but his writing shocked in its time just the same. The difference is that you can enjoy “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” without feeling (bad) dirty because it has class, social commentary, and even an interesting plot thrown in among all the forbidden cabin sex. It’s a Penguin Modern Classic, so you can read on the subway without judgement—unless you bump into your literature professor.
Anaïs Nin—‘Delta of Venus’
As a pioneer of erotica for women, Nin’s stuff is twice as interesting and 10 times dirtier than anything you’ll find in the “literature” of E.L. James. Meant as a caricature of male erotica of the time, “Delta of Venus,” a collection of letters written in the 1940s by Nin and various literary acquaintances including Henry Miller, veers from intimate descriptions of lesbian passion to shocking scenes of violent BDSM and one disturbing pedophilic episode. Take it with a grain of contextual salt—what makes “Delta of Venus” interesting is its frank and oftentimes uncomfortable exploration of the darker side of male and female sexuality.
Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy—‘The Ethical Slut’
While not technically erotic literature, “The Ethical Slut” is the go-to guidebook for open relationships, telling readers all they need to know to lead a polyamorous lifestyle without creating an emotional wreck of your friends, your family, your lovers, and yourself. Written in 1997, this Bible of promiscuity leads the way in the fight to reclaim the title of “slut” for women everywhere who positively love sex. We are forever indebted.
Alan Hollinghurst—‘The Swimming-Pool Library’
Hollinghurst’s 1988 novel demystified gay male sex and tackled themes of homophobia when the British gay liberation movement was just a murmur on the paths of the London parks in which the novel takes place. Oxford-educated, aristocratic protagonist William Beckwith finds himself and re-evaluates his morality via a seemingly never-ending string of illicit sexual encounters. You’re welcome.