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Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, by John Cleland (1749)
This tale of a prostitute's rise through the social ranks might be the most banned book in history. In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because it had some redeeming social value, it could not be deemed obscene.
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Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence (1928)
You can read it as an allegory for class conflict, or as a hot-and-heavy tale of a woman who resents her rich husband and gets it on with a workingman. But either way you read it, the novel — which spawned countless obscenity trials — is pretty dirty.
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Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller (1934)
This shocking semi-autobiographical novel about a writer's life was a real wake-up call for literature, focusing the debate on the meaning of obscenity. Its 1938 U.S. government ban wasn't lifted until 1961.
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Story of O, by Pauline Réage (1954)
Réage's savage story of female submission, which won a major literary prize in France when it was published, has long been slammed by feminists.
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The Happy Hooker, by Xaviera Hollander with Robin Moore and Yvonne Dunleavy (1972)
This memoir by a former call girl and madam was loved by some for its frankness and condemned by others for its raunchy, kinky, sex-drenched content.
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Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong (1973)
Jong was lambasted for this novel — which introduced the memorable term ''zipless f---'' — because she received a $5,000 NEA grant to write it and so many people found it objectionable. The book, about a woman who decides to have sex with a stranger, hardly seems dated today.
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Forever..., by Judy Blume (1975)
What girl didn't sneak a copy of this hormone-fueled novel? This classic Blume tale — about a high schooler giving up her virginity — has riveted teens (and scared their parents) for almost 40 years.
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Damage, by Josephine Hart (1991)
Hart's narrator has money, success, and a beautiful family. But all he wants is his son's fiancée. Damage captures the raw exhilaration of forbidden passion as one man throws it all away for the only person he's ever loved.
9 of 10
The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber (2002)
Can this man ever write a sex scene! Faber's novel, at once serious and salacious, is the epic saga of a Victorian-era whore named Sugar.
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How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, by Jenna Jameson (2004)
At once sassy, tender, and explicit, this rollicking story of how a motherless high school cheerleader ended up the most celebrated adult-film actress in the world cemented Jameson's appeal.