I heard you read 50 Shades of Grey. That's cool. I haven't. But not because it's kinky. Because me and erotica don't always get along.

You're like, “What the eff, Rayne? You're all about sex, but you don't like erotica?”

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan. I'm currently reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Audacity of Hope by President Barack Obama on the nonfiction front, and I just finished 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill on the fictional side. (You should really get your hands on that book. Without a doubt, that man's mind is twisted.) So you see, when it comes right down to it, I like my input to focus on something other than sex.

That's not to say that I don't like to read about sex. I do! There are plenty of erotic stories that have drawn me in because they engage the reader on an intellectual level. I've spun an erotic tale or two to entice a lover, here and there. But when it comes to reading erotica, I usually can't get past the flowery speech and tender loving care, which just leaves me frustrated.

I am, in a word, kinky.

That might be an understatement.

So you'd think 50 Shades of Grey would be right up my alley, along with all the other highly controversial, surprisingly popular kinky novels, like Exit to Eden, The Sleeping Beauty Series, The Story of O...What ultimately turned me off to 50 Shades is the fact that it's a fantasy based on a vampire series for teens. Or so I'm told. Generally speaking, fantasy erotica based on stories about mythical creatures features some pretty impossible sexploits. Mostly because mythical creatures are magic and can totally have sex back to back with their hands and feet tied together. What? They can! Really!

That's not to say that those stories can't be an excellent jumping off point for those of us interested in delving deeper into the BDSM realm than the common “slap and tickle.” It's just important for the reader to keep in mind the fact that the things they read in some of those novels aren't the safest practices to engage in.

But the normal erotica? The stuff that keeps the sex scenes within the realm of possibility? Those are great for your sex life.

I'm serious, guys. Here's how:

1 – Communication! It's not always easy to tell your partner how you like it. Getting the conversation started can be awkward and uncomfortable. A good way to get the ball rolling would be to pop out to your favorite book store, grab two copies of a story you think fits your relationship, and start your very own book club for two. When you discuss the story, make sure you talk about which scenes were the most erotic for you!

2 – Arrousal! Sometimes, foreplay doesn't do it. It sucks. It's frustrating. It's enough to make you think your partner's just not that into you. But usually, the problem isn't you, at all. It's that your partner needs their brain engaged just as much as their body. Cuddling up on the bed with a good erotic novel and reading to each other is a great way to achieve that.

3 – Ideas! I've said it before, and I'll say it again. No one's born “just knowing” how to have great sex. After a while, the same old position gets boring, your idea of foreplay becomes the quickest way to snoozeville, and those romantic surprises that used to get you laid in five seconds flat just don't do it anymore. Who better to give you ways to shake up your romantic life than an erotic author who spends most of their time thinking up ways to shake up their sexy stories?

4 – Hands-off experimentation! Trying new things is hard. Trying new sexual things is harder. But you can get a pretty good idea of how you'll feel when trying a new position for the first time by how you react to reading about it. If you get really turned on just by the thought, chances are good you'll enjoy the act. If reading makes you uncomfortable, you might not be so enthusiastic once you give it a go.

Don't worry! I won't leave you scrambling to figure out what “good erotica” is. Here are three titles to get you started:

Making the Hook-Up: Edgy Sex with Soul edited by Cole Riley - This is one of those erotic novels that engaged my mind, body, and soul. The stories don't just portray people in sexual situations, but also delve into the emotions and experiences that lead the characters there.

The other two sort of go together. They're called Tasting Her and Tasting Him and they're edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. They're not quite as intellectually engaging, but the authors really know their stuff! If you like mouth parties, you'll love the stories in these books.

All three of these books are compilations of short stories, and the stories within are just about the perfect length. By the time you're finished with the first one, if you're not ready to roll, I'll eat my hat.

Just not the New Mexico one. It has sentimental value.