The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that E.L. James' Fifty Shades trilogy is on track to hit 20 million copies sold in the United States, after just three months on bookstore shelves (it has been available digitally for about four months).

Here are some stats to make your jaw drop even more: It took three years for Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy to sell that many copies. And according to Nielsen BookScan, one out of five "adult-fiction physical books" sold in the United States were part of the trilogy.

Given these massive numbers, there's a good chance that if you're reading this blog post, you've already fallen under the spell of James' unlikely couple, college grad Anastasia Steele and billionaire Christian Grey.

Did you read the trilogy, love it and are looking for something new? We recommend Bared to You by Sylvia Day, which is also about a 20-something woman who falls for a billionaire entrepreneur. (I've read both Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You, and would venture to say that the latter is actually a better read, with more realistic dialogue and equally steamy sex scenes.) By the way, Bared to You may not have sold 20 million copies, but it's not doing too shabby, either. It's currently #4 on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list.

I interviewed Day about her novel and the popularity of erotic romance. You can read her answers here.

If you enjoy erotic romance, you probably don't need anyone to explain the genre's popularity. (Perhaps you'll nod your head at Vintage's new marketing slogan for the Fifty Shades trilogy: "Reading for pleasure has a whole new meaning.") If you don't get the appeal, however, perhaps this excerpt from my Q&A with Sylvia Day will help you understand the phenomenon:

How do you sustain such explosive chemistry between Gideon and Eva for hundreds of pages? Is there a secret to writing sex scenes that continue to excite (rather than bore) readers over the span of a novel?
Emotional resonance—it’s absolutely necessary to writing erotic romance. Sex for sex’s sake is porn. Reading “Tab-A into Slot-B” scenes would be boring and repetitive. Each sexual scene has to further the story and character arcs. There has to be a goal to the interaction and a resolution (aside from physical climax!). For many of my characters, they lack the ability to communicate effectively verbally, so they show how they feel through sexual interaction. There’s a story in the way they communicate with their bodies and that’s what makes the sex hot. [Continue reading . . .]

Are you a fan of the Fifty Shades trilogy? What books would you recommend to someone who loves E.L. James' books?

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