1. Atonement by Ian McEwen
McEwen’s tragedy takes place during WWII, with protagonist 13-year-old Briony Tallis, who misinterprets her sister’s love affair with the family’s gardener. Who would think that one steamy encounter could lead to such a great deal of misfortune? This book is a fast-paced drama packed with romance, coming-of-age and psychology. Watch out for a whole lot of crying coming your way. I read this back in high school and it emotionally drained me back then and it still does now!
CW: Mentions of sexual assault (barely described)
2. Normal People by Sally Rooney
With her unique prose and deep understanding of a character’s psyche, Rooney takes us through an intimate, vulnerable and emotional journey. Rooney crafts two individuals that long for normality yet struggle to navigate their feelings about one another, coping through intimate sex, casual sex, sad sex. All sorts of sex. If you want a fast, emotional roller-coaster of a book, then this is for you.
CW: Domestic abuse, drug use, suicide, sexual assault and bullying.
3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This classic novel deals with the ideas of sexual desire, infidelity and jealousy as well as pure love and loyalty. In similar fashion to Atonement, Tolstoy portrays how an intimate affair can bring an individual and everyone around them to their downfall. Anna Karenina takes place in late 19th century Russia, where high society is brutal and everyone’s a bit of a bitch. Sounds scandalous, right? The 864 pages are definitely worth it.
4. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
This ongoing webcomic is a modern retelling of Greek mythology with a particular focus on the dynamic between Hades and Persephone. It’s a refreshing new take that showcases many aspects of sex. Whether it’s lust for someone you can’t have, being in a relationship where sex is the only thing that’s gluing it together or having an upbringing that has strict ideas around sex.
Lore Olympus has amazing art, mythology and so many different perspectives. What more could you ask for? The best part is that it’s free to read on Webtoons. It’s a whole package!
CW: Sexual assault.