5 Books That Taught Me About Sex

Oh, you know what I’m talking about. Read on for some reminiscing about some sneaky reads. I read most of these in middle school.

This book was the first book that made sex “sexy” for me.

The Mists of Avalon: Two things about this book. First, I remember reading one of the sex scenes and taking the book to school the next day to show my friends. We were in homeroom and my teacher overheard us and snarked, “Hmmm, a little sex, huh?” This was the same teacher who said, “Let’s just say I never smoked cigarettes.”

Second, one of the scenes involves Uther Pendgragon and whomever he was sleeping with. Bradly describes his chest hair tickling her nipples, and I remember that just really bugged. How, I wondered, does that happen? Now that I’ve actually had the sex, I’ve never had my nipples tickled by any man’s chest hair.

Harlequin romances: There were always a reliable collection of these at whatever cottage I ended up at during the summer. I remember reading this particular harlequin (though who knows the title at this point) when I went to a cottage with a friend and we immediately skipped to the sex scenes

Flowers in the Attic: Still disturbing after all these years. But awesome. One of the greatest books ever written.

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart: First of all, these are great books. Just really fun reads. You should check them out. There is one scene where I think Lancelot and Guinevere are caught in flagrante delicato, which was my first introduction to the consequences of maybe sleeping around. Also, hot! I may also be remembering yet another scene from The Mists of Avalon. All those King Arthur things sometimes blur.

Julie of the Wolves: I don’t remember this book very well except for the marital rape scene (which some do not interpret this way, including the author). It’s the main impetus for Julie running away and getting lost in the first place. I actually have a very clear memory of how I imagined the scene in my mind – indeed, the description of her husband ripping Julie’s dress is one of my most vivid memories of my childhood. I didn’t understand it as sexual assault, that’s for sure, and I do wish someone had explained it to me since at that age, I didn’t really understand what sex was, much less rape. Now, before some random “let’s ban ALL the books” person jumps on this, I actually think that scene is incredibly well written and I really appreciate an author trusting children to be able to handle something so violent and disturbing. What’s more, how the author describes Julie’s journey after all of this is just incredible. What I’m really saying is that wouldn’t it be great if we had an education system where we can talk about really awful things like rape in an open way so that both young girls and young men come away from it with a deeper understanding of what is fucked up about our culture and ready to help change it?

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

21 replies on “5 Books That Taught Me About Sex”

I loved Julie of the Wolves and my mom gave it to me in 6th grade. Now I’m wondering where my copy is, because I seriously want to re-read it. I don’t remember the first book I learned about sex from, but I remember that the Alanna series was the first one I think I read where the female character openly worried about birth control and insisted on its use. Ah, youth.

Well, I was REALLY sheltered, so until I was 19 I thought the “leading up to but excluding sex” scenes in most ya fiction (especially Caroline Cooney and Lois Duncan) were steamy. Then I found Stephen Lawhead (fantasy with a comparatively subtle religious spin) and his marital sex paragraphs (mostly involving “lovemaking” and “melting into each other”) were pretty hot.

Then, at 19, I found Diana Gabaldon. MUCH steamier than anything I’d read before.

Now? Well, I still blush, but this 27-year-old virgin isn’t nearly as naive as before. I’ve been doing my homework, so to speak.

For me, it was definately the Plains of Passage by Jean Auel, so many scenes there got me all hot and bothered in ways I’d never felt before. Woohoo grade 7 horniness! Also remember learning a bit about masturbation (and subsequently trying it ..) from that Nicholas Evans novel The Horse Whisperer. Man that book had some hot scenes, i would continuously blush while reading it at family gatherings …

For me the number one book was the Valley of Horses by Jean Auel, so much sexytimes in that book. I picked it up on a whim on the start of a long cross country road trip in middle school and I remember curling around the book during the smutty scenes, fascinated but not wanting my mum to realize that I was reading such stuff. (of course, she was very mature about the whole thing as she had read the books ages before and didn’t feel that sex is a taboo thing for teens) Also read several other “ancient people’s” books with similar content but their titles/authors haven’t stuck in my head. The other highly educational books I read were some of Danielle Steele, man she has some intense and rather awful subject matter, taught me about the unpleasant side of sex at an early age.

I haven’t read any of these, may have to remedy that. Apart from Flowers in the Attic, of which I have heard, and have no desire to read. I’m trying to think about the books which taught me about sex. I know there were books which did, but for some reason, no titles are coming to mind. Will have to think on it.

I can’t remember straight up sex scenes (nor straight sex), but was very very fascinated by gay fondling and almost-sex in When Love Comes To Town. I think it opened my mind to wondering how two people of the same sex could enjoy each other (well, wasn’t that said in the most correct way).

And now I’ve looked up the author I want to read more of his work.

My mom read those hyperviolent, hypersexual murder mystery books by J.D. Robb and stuff, so I learned a lot of strange things from reading those. Of course you would go investigate a mass murder scene so brutal you were ankle-deep in blood and guts, then go home and screw the sads away with your millionaire husband.

Also yes to Judy Blume, and I made a lot of (often incorrect) deductions from reading my grandma’s tabloids.

I swear I turned out okay.

Illicit sex scenes were always a joy to read when I was younger, although I didn’t share them with friends much because not many of my friends were reading the types of books I was. I’m glad my mom gave up very early on approving the books I read- around 3rd grade she just let me go.


Most of the sex scenes that stick out in my mind are from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. She never wrote anything graphic so I was pretty ignorant about the actual mechanics, but she had some excellently steamy lead-ups that I was fascinated by. I also vividly remember learning about rape for the first time after encountering it in one of her books- I was in 4th grade, and I ran downstairs to ask my mom what it meant. She was surprised and unhappy that my beloved dragon books had such serious content, but she handed the book right back to me when she was done explaining. I suppose she realized that the damage had already been done, and that trying to deny me my books was a) futile and b) would only make me more curious.

The dragon mating scenes (and telepathically connected banging humans) were the bulk of it, there weren’t that many sex scenes at all. But as a preteen they stuck out in my mind, I recently reread most of the books as an adult and they’re a lot less prevalent than I remembered them.

From ‘Are You There God’ to ‘Wifey’, Judy Blume played a huge part in sex education in books for me.  Also, all of the disturbing parts of any VC Andrews books.  The best was going babysitting for a woman who had copious amounts of Cosmo and Harlequin.

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