The world of smut is vast and varied, ranging from mainstream porn to erotic novels to audio erotica to fan fiction to that one sports-team mascot that just does it for you, for some reason.
You know how things go on a mainstream porn website: Want to get choked by your imaginary stepdad? Want to watch the most horrifying sex imaginable take place in an old warehouse? Want to constantly lose track of the narrative because you’re wondering if the actors are being paid competitive and fair wages? Of course there is ethical, enthusiastic, consensual female-gaze porn out there, but it’s not always easy to find.
On the other hand…welcome to Spicy BookTok, the TikTok community focused on erotic novels and stories where a woman in flattering glasses will talk in a calming voice about genres called fae porn and praise kink. They got jokes. They got feelings. They got ultra-specific scenarios. What if you teamed up with your enemy to overthrow an evil regime and then you had to take shelter from passing guards in a cave and in the darkness he stumbled and cut his thigh on a sharp rock and you had to dress his wound but your only spare scrap of fabric was your corset? What then??? Spicy BookTok is the sister kingdom to the smut queens of Bookstagram. Both realms are woman-dominated. And both tend to celebrate queerness, fatness, and people of color with less tokenization than other erotic communities.
Yes, it feels odd to call women publicly describing their post-reading underwear as “glopping and gloopy” a sign of radical progress. But this is a phenomenon of women forming networks to tell each other what turns them on. Kimiya, a.k.a. KKTReads, even argues that darker erotic novels can feel therapeutic “for those who have experienced sexual assault in their life, or those who may have darker sexual appetites and want to learn about them and explore them in a safe, controlled environment.” Says Ayman, who commands a BookTok audience of over half a million, “Reading romance and anything smutty has taught me way more about myself and my sexuality than any textbook or sex-ed class ever could.”
Smutty books roll their eyes at the cult of sanctity around literature. In the world of erotic books and romance novels, there’s room for every fantasy on the page. Commas and ellipses contort on the page, and ink serves as lingerie. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Glamour asked nine devoted smut readers on TikTok and Instagram to recommend their favorite erotic novels, romance novels, and written smut. Happy reading!
Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Romance books allow me to vicariously live through characters that have way more interesting lives than I do. I’m currently reading Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma, and this book has single-handedly proven why I like fictional men better than real-life men. —Ayman of AymansBooks
Gifting Me to His Best Friend (A Touch of Taboo) by Katee Robert
Katee Robert’s A Touch of Taboo series has got to be the smuttiest, horniest books I’ve read in the past two years, and they are so great because of the diversity in them. Every book explores a specific nonconventional (or taboo) relationship and different sexual appetites in a healthy, consensual environment. What’s not to love?! For dark romance, Hooked by Emily McIntire and The Cat and Mouse Duet by H.D. Carlton are both amazing books. (I always advise everyone to check the trigger warnings and content warnings before reading dark romance!) —Kimiya of KKTReads
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
I recommend It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey. It is the first book I read by her, and oh, my gosh, it was amazing. It’s a cute yet very hot romantic story about an L.A. wild child named Piper who is sent to a fisherman’s town called Westport to run her late father’s dive bar and learn how to be independent. She is greeted with not the warmest of welcomes by none other than a grumpy young fisherman named Brendan. This book gave me butterflies. The banter between them was unbelievably cute. For example, Piper only knew how to cook pasta, and she cooked that for Brendan for like three days straight. He was tired of it, obviously, but he would eat it every day for the rest of his life if it made her happy. Tell me that isn’t cute?? I was this close to moving to a small town myself to try and find a young fisherman after reading this book. Plus, the spicy scenes that happened between them? Oof, I was definitely blushing when reading them. This book is an easy read, swoon-worthy, and super hot and steamy. —Jayde of JaydeClément
The Original Sinners Series by Tiffany Reisz
If you want a mix of romance, Catholicism, BDSM, polyamory, queer characters, and mystery all in a long series, well, look no further than The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz. It’s about a Catholic bishop and his erotic novelist lover. You may need to take time off work or school, because this series will have you bound, gagged, and on your knees begging for more. —Beatrice of BeatriceBPhan
A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn
If you have not read A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn—what are you doing with your life? This is a Pretty Woman–inspired book with fake dating, hilarious banter that brings tears to your eyes, and sexual tension like no other. One of the best rom-coms I have ever read! Highly recommend! —Tess of Bookedupchick
Fall From India Place by Samantha Young
If there’s one book a hopeless romantic has to read before they die, it’s this book—Fall From India Place by Samantha Young. It has the best romantic scenes I have ever read in a book as well as the best spicy scenes. It will tug on your heartstrings and occasionally make you want to rip your heart out to give to the Marco (the lead male). —Anita H of AnitasLibrary
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
A book that I absolutely love is The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas. It’s a book filled with romance that makes you scream at 2 a.m. because it’s that good; spice that leaves you breathless for a second or two; and characters that will forever stay with you. I loved it so much. —Youssra of Youssra Reads
Brutal Prince by Sophie Lark
The queen of the mafia romance subgenre is easily Sophie Lark. Each of her books features a different romance trope and a different kink, so there is a little something for everyone. Trust me, her books are not only utterly addictive and super spicy, but they feature badass women who bring strong men to their knees! Start with Brutal Prince, which is an enemies-to-lovers arranged marriage romance.
Honestly, it’s strange how people forget that historical romances can be smutty! The Secret by Julie Garwood was written back in 1992, but the swoony bickering in this will have any Outlander and Bridgerton fan melting on the spot. This romance is about a grumpy Scottish laird falling for a feisty English lady, and trust me, this man knows how to pleasure his woman. But be warned, after finishing this book I was tempted to spend all the money I don’t have on a plane ticket to Scotland. —Madison of PrincessofPaperback
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.