As someone who has identified over the course of their life as straight, lesbian, and now (proud) bisexual, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about my sexuality. Likewise, as a lifelong reader and writer who grew up to be a librarian, I spend a lot of time reading (duh) and thinking about what I’ve read and planning what I’m going to read next. When I first came out, it was kind of a no-brainer that I would voraciously seek out LGBTQ books. I had NO idea what exactly I was looking for, but it turns out at in 2005 at least when you searched for lesbian books, a lot of the ones that came up were erotica. (This is probably because I was likely searching for books with the word lesbian in the title, and, funnily enough, even novels that have lesbian main characters don’t usually have lesbian in the title. Anthologies of lesbian erotica, however, do. I digress.)
Unfortunately, it turned out that I kind of hated Best of Best Lesbian Erotica 2. My feelings while reading vacillated between total boredom and varying levels of discomfort. This is the kind of book lesbians read?, I thought. This is the best of the best? Honestly, the whole reading experience made me wonder if I was really a lesbian after all. (Of course, it turned out that I was in fact actually bisexual but that’s besides the point). Later, of course, I found other queer books that I did like, which set me off on the career path I’m on today, a librarian who runs a queer Canadian book blog called Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, among other things.
For a genre of writing that is by definition supposed to be exciting, how is it possible that I am so bored reading it? You’d think, as a bisexual person attracted to many genders, that I’d be into about reading about just about anybody getting it on. I’m also very omnivorous when it comes to book genres and formats: literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, YA, middle grade, graphic novels, comics, chick lit, romance, memoir, mystery, biography; name any genre and even if it’s not my favourite, I’ve read something in that category that I loved. So why don’t I like erotica?
Have I been reading the wrong erotica? Have I been reading erotica the wrong way? Should I keep trying to like erotica, or should I give up? And has anyone else had this experience of being viscerally bored by erotica when they knew they were supposed to be aroused? Let me know if it’s just me, or if anyone has suggestions for other erotica books I should try.