For better or for worse, there’s no escaping Valentine’s Day. The high street is awash with cringe cards, teddy bears and roses as the world prepares to celebrate love - in some vague sense of the word.
So will you be reading your beloved a Shakespearen sonnet in a grand gesture of romance? Probably not. Instead, why not explore the vast array of ‘erotic’ literature that past writers have so kindly bestowed upon us for such occasions?
There’s EL James’ bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey and the “wild and wanton” version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for starters. Then there's the Bad Sex Awards nominees from bygone years, won in 2013 by Manil Suri for the subatomic bisexual orgy he describes in The City of Devi.
“Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains,” reads the winning extract. “We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice”
If nothing else, the best relationships involve laughter – something these supposedly sexy but actually oh-so-bizarre extracts are sure to encourage.
The best bad sex scenes from books
The best bad sex scenes from books
1/10 Tracking The Tempest - Nicole Peeler
"The first electrical storm passes through her at once, like a break in the clouds, like alliterative quatrains, like wind chimes, freshly mown grass, goat cheese, new car interiors, church choirs, grand slams."
2/10 Eric Reinhardt - The Victoria System
Reinhardt's hero waits "tensed, tortured, for Victoria's palms to start descending once again towards the elastic of [his] underwear."
3/10 Fan Tan - Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell
"He came and he came - we are dealing with a hero here. At one point his lover backed away to inspect the unaltered gush of it, like a plumber saying to a customer, 'Don't blame me. This water supply will stop when the dam's empty'."
4/10 The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro - Paul Theroux
"Still I could not tell where her soft skin ended and her silk began, and the complexity of her vaginal lips was like another elaborate silken garment she had put on for me to stroke."
5/10 Ten Storey Love Song - Richard Milward
"Then, Bobby starts scrabbling frantically across the carpet for Mr Condom, sending five or six multicolour Durexes flying through the air, and he struggles getting the packet open and Georgie has to roll Mr Condom down Mr Penis for him and she has to help insert him into Mrs Vagina."
6/10 The Kindly Ones - Jonathan Littell
"I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg."
7/10 Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence
"For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling, rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance, exquisite and melting her all molten inside."
8/10 House of Earth - Woody Guthrie
"Her body melted into a single note of music to the sky."
9/10 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami
"Her breasts themselves were large, however, and fully ripe. They seemed to be virtually uninfluenced by the force of gravity, the nipples turned beautifully upward, like a vine's new tendrils seeking sunlight."
10/10 The City of Devi - Manil Suri
"Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains"