Seduction via book recommendations?
February 9, 2018 11:06 AM   Subscribe

What books might I recommend to someone in order to flirt with/seduce them?

I just met a person, and I am interested in sleeping with them. We have been exchanging book recommendations. This person is extremely well-read (I thought I was well-read, but damnnnn), smart, funny, etc... I have a major crush.

I would like to recommend a book/books that might subtly (or not so subtly) suggest to this person that I would very much enjoy spending more time with them (in bed, on the floor, pressed up against a bookshelf, wherever).

My brain is good and properly scrambled by this crush and I can't come up with anything. Nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight. It has to have some redeeming literary value. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

There is a super sexy (but not raunchy) chapter in Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler that is all about reading. Maybe stick a bookmark in that part?
I would be pretty charmed by that, tbh.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2018 [10 favorites]

It's been a while since I read it, but maybe The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Depending on how subtle you want to be: Sex at Dawn
posted by Grither at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2018

Once upon a time someone did this for me with Lady Chatterley's Lover.
The relationship didn't work out, but the message was clear.
posted by flourpot at 11:17 AM on February 9, 2018

I assume somewhat obscure since they're well-read? Otherwise Unbearable Lightness of Being would hit the nail on the head. (on preview, jinx)

Sabbath's Theater isn't the obvious Philip Roth choice, so that might work.
posted by supercres at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2018

We don't know anything about the OP or the recipient. But just to say. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a beautiful and important (and sexy) book but there are many women these days who would not find its sexual politics seductive.
posted by velveeta underground at 11:21 AM on February 9, 2018 [25 favorites]

Tell us about what your crush is like! So popular it's almost cliche, but Norwegian Wood?
posted by gemutlichkeit at 11:27 AM on February 9, 2018

As a sentimental bookish woman who is interested in sentimental bookish men, if a handsome someone had given me a collection of Petrarch's sonnets when I was single... va va va voom!

Might be a bit too romantic for your situation, but just thinking about Petrarch sets my heart racing. YMMV.
posted by pammeke at 11:33 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Knowing y'alls genders would actually be pretty helpful here.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:47 AM on February 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

I would really need to know more about your particular situation. The best recommendation would be clearly a metaphor for your relationship/interactions, and end up with people either sleeping together (or pining for each other, having regretted not sleeping together).

For example, in some situations (eg a reticent and serious man who may not be picking up signals from an interesting and intelligent woman) I would recommend Remains of the Day.

In others (two people exchanging letters and they're both pretty clear that they're going to bang) I'd recommend the letters of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:51 AM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Frances McDormand claimed she was seduced by Joel Coen when he gave her a copy of the book The Postman Always Rings Twice.
posted by maggiemae at 11:51 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was seduced by a book that perfectly suited my taste and interests (it didn't hurt that the person recommending the book was hot and charming and wonderful). The book was The Rings of Saturn, but that's not important- I think I personally would be most attracted by the idea that someone got me, more than anything that happens to reference sex.
posted by pinochiette at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

If you are a dude and the other person is not, read the books they recommend and let them be the expert. Tell them what you thought and have an actual conversation that shows you took their recommendation seriously. That is the most charming move possible in this situation, in my opinion.

To answer your actual question, maybe Dhalgren if some very explicit, challenging, but super interesting scifi might work for your person.

But, yeah, this is a know-your-audience sort of question that's hard to answer without knowing a lot more about their taste.
posted by snaw at 12:16 PM on February 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

Vox by Nicholson Baker.
posted by jabes at 12:34 PM on February 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was going to suggest Vox if you don't want to be subtle. If you want something more subtle, maybe Possession by A.S. Byatt.
posted by Redstart at 12:48 PM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

I came to suggest If on a winter's night a traveler, but exceptinsects beat me to it.

Rilke is also good, if you think you might have actual feelings for them besides the purely carnal.
posted by culfinglin at 12:57 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

If they're theory oriented, check out Barthes' "A Lover's Discourse."
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

If someone recommended Philip Roth to me I would probably ghost them on the spot.

Possession is a double-decker tale of writers and scholars romancing each other through literary activity. As it's a complex book with some bad relationships, too, it will give you some plausible deniability if you end up needing it (I hope not!).

The Age of Innocence is very much about smoldering passion but isn't explicitly erotic...again, a little more discreet.
posted by praemunire at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

Black Hole. (Collected edition.)

At first glance, the whole sexually-transmitted-disease aspect would run counter to your aim here, but really -- there are some SEXXXAY parts to this book, in a sexual awakening, mystique of the opposite and different sort of way. But really, it's a loaded book. It's a serious book, and a serious work of art. There's tons to mine in terms of allegory and symbolism, and that's going to get everyone's brains going and thinking about a lot about sex and sexual relations and thinking about their own past sex and their future sex and future sex with you.

Good luck. Go get 'em, tiger!
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2018

Honestly I think chances are you’re going to come off as creepy or as an applicant for the friend zone. The books have done their part, move on.
posted by Segundus at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

I'm glad it worked for someone, but my recollection of Lady Chatterley's Lover is that it was incredibly sexually ignorant and gross and misogynistic. The bit where the guy complains about how disgusting it was that his wife needed rubbing at her "beak" (clitoris) to come is one of the most revolting bits of literary misogyny I've ever personally encountered.

Nicholson Baker might be a good idea. I don't remember them exactly but Vox and Fermata could work. But honestly this is so extremely individual, and with just about no information about you or your crush, no recommendation is going to be reliable. Plus... if you're not already in a sexually flirtatious mode with someone, this is either going to be far too subtle, or creepy AF.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

Written on the Body played a really large part in the development of my sexuality and is pretty gorgeous/gender neutral?

(Though also please just ask this person on a date and don't try to communicate it through hints/book recommendations. If someone who I was not dating was like "Read Sex at Dawn!," I don't think I would understand that as flirting. Or if I did understand it as flirting, I would be like, "Huh.")
posted by superlibby at 2:42 PM on February 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a thought- provoking, beautiful, and depressing book, but not remotely sexy, nor indicative of desire, IMO. If you want Kundera, try Slowness instead.
posted by windykites at 6:52 PM on February 9, 2018

Uh. Anais Nin?
posted by aielen at 4:15 AM on February 10, 2018

I went to a literary speed dating event once and, though I was on the queer side, the guys who brought "sexy" books to prospectively romance the ladies were definitely looked askance at. I have no idea if you are a guy or not, but don't be that guy. It just seems kind of tacky and sad at best, creepy at worst.

You know what is sexy? Finding someone who can have a decent conversation about a book. If it's a book that you've read and they haven't, try to explain what was so compelling about it and have a conversation about that. If it's a book they've read and you haven't, ask them what was so compelling about it and listen. Don't try to one-up them or divert the conversation back onto you. If it's a book that you have both read, all the better.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:35 AM on February 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Consider borrowing a book from this person? This provides two excuses to see them face-to-face.
posted by yarntheory at 6:36 AM on February 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

The Eve of St Agnes is v. sexy and literary, but depends on how you like voyeurism.

Literally love letters might work? Maybe Virginia Woolf or the Brownings.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 11:28 AM on February 10, 2018

I'm going to chime in to say this might not be the best plan.

I like to read. I crossed paths with a lovely gentleman who gave me a book with his name and phone number written in the front (we had been on the same flight to our city and he had just finished the book). There was some sort of suggestion that I should let him know what I thought of the book, although whether that was part of our conversation or written I don't recall. I was interested and would have gotten in touch -- except, I felt like I should finish the book first.

Did I mention I like to read? This means I have a lot of books. I never did get to that book. I'm not sure where it went now, but if I found it I'd probably feel vaguely guilty and continue to not read it.

And if that book had contained some sort of subtle suggestion that I was supposed to pick up on, it would have completely gone over my head.

People can't agree on the literary meaning of what the author had in mind for a book, so the odds that someone will decipher your hidden book suggestion message is rather low. Especially in that you have already been giving book suggestions -- presumably either ones that have not contained this hidden message, or gone unnoticed or ignored if they did.

Just ask them on a date.
posted by yohko at 6:03 PM on February 11, 2018

Consider borrowing a book from this person? This provides two excuses to see them face-to-face.

Oh yeah I definitely agree with this tactic.

People saying this person won't get the message...well, I do not think that is necessarily the case. You can say stuff like "I was thinking of you and this book was what came to mind..."
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:30 PM on February 11, 2018

MeFite Maciej has just what you need in his blog post 'Dating without Kundera'.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:09 AM on February 28, 2018

« Older Name that Yiddish name.   |   Historically grounded literary urban fantasy... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.