8 Books Better
than 50 Shades of Grey
By Gabriela Lee
As John Waters famously said, “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!” I’d like to take this piece of advice a little bit further and add that if the only books they have at home are the 50 Shades of Grey series by EL James, then it’s best to flee before they show you a room full of leather straps – or worse, a contract.
Look, if you’re looking for a book to stimulate your mind and make you feel like a natural woman – whatever that might mean for you – then you’d be better off turning the pages of these books instead. You might find that your mind is the sexiest organ that you own.
For those who are looking for love in all the wrong places:
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brönte.
This classic novel about a young woman who falls in love with her handsome, mysterious employer (who happens to be married to a madwoman in the attic) isn’t just the plotline of another telenovela, but rather an intimate look at the choices a woman makes when she seeks to remain independent and in control of her feelings despite the requirements of society.
For those who want to keep their love young, wild, and free:
“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
It could be argued that this is one of the best contemporary novels ever written – Nabokov’s eye towards detail and his ability to capture the yearning voice of a middle-aged man whose descent into desire and destruction is akin to lightning in a bottle. The novel will break your heart with its beauty.
For those who love some local color:
“The Interim Goddess of Love” by Mina V. Esguerra
This book, the first of a trilogy, ticks all of the romance boxes and brings them to life. Cute girl-next-door protagonist? Check. Hot, handsome varsity love interest? Check. Moody, brooding other love interest? Check. College-level romance, friendships, and dealing with the responsibility of being the temporary goddess of love in Philippine mythology? Oh, definitely.
For those who desire dystopia:
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
Set in a dystopic United States that is now called Gilead, this story serves as a warning to those who believe that the woman’s place is subservient to men. Even when reduced to baby machines, a woman called Offred finds a silver lining in love and chooses to rebel against a society that has ruined her.
For those who want to laugh at love and life:
“It’s Raining Mens” by Beverly Siy
This humorous memoir details the girlhood of resident funny girl Beverly Siy as she grows up in Metro Manila and the strangeness of being raised in this culture. From hilarious anecdotes about her family and the comedic experiences of learning about life and love, she’s able to capture the role of men in the life of a Filipino woman.
For those who like it rough:
“The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” by Anne Rice (writing as A.N. Roquelare)
Written as a feminist response to the traditionally passive role of Sleeping Beauty, this erotic BDSM classic shows us what happens to the fairy-tale princess after she’s awoken by a rather, er, insistent prince. Beauty’s journey touches on all levels of desire: from the sensual to the emotional.
For those who want a meeting of the minds:
“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
This young adult classic takes place through space and time as Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin O’Keefe search the cosmos for her missing father. While the entire book balances on the bedrock of love in all its forms, the charming love story of Meg and Calvin – culminating in a sweet first kiss on an alien planet – is definitely one for the books.
For those who love fabulous fantasy stories:
“Now, Then, and Elsewhen” by Nikki Alfar
This gorgeously lush debut short story collection traverses through worlds and through words. Alfar’s works range from the cheekily humorous to the deep and mysterious worlds that can only exist in the imagination of a master storyteller. If you just want a bite or two of potent stories of love and loss, then this one’s for you.
Know of any other books you can recommend? Share them with us below!