Erotic literature comprises fictional and factual stories and accounts which sexually arouse the reader, whether written with that intention or not[original research?]. Such erotica takes the form of novels, short stories, poetry, true-life memoirs, and sex manuals. Erotic literature has often been subject to censorship and legal restraints on publication.
Erotic fiction is the name given to fiction that deals with sex or sexual themes, generally in a more literary or serious way than the fiction seen in pornographic magazines and sometimes including elements of satire or social criticism. Such works have frequently been banned by the authorities. It should be noted, however, that apparently non-fictional works dealing with sex or sexual themes may contain fictional elements; calling an erotic book 'a memoir' is a literary device that is common in this genre. For reasons similar to those that make pseudonyms both commonplace and often deviously set up, the boundary between fiction and non-fiction is often very diffuse.
Sex Manuals such as the Kama Sutra are some of the best known works of erotic literature. The Ananga Ranga is a lesser known one, aimed specifically at preventing the separation of a husband and wife. Ovid's Ars Amatoria is a famous example from the classical world.
Directories of prostitutes and their services have also historically served as a sexual education in print, such as Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies (1757-1795).
From around the late 1970s, many sex manuals have been published and openly sold in the western world, notably The Joy of Sex. Sex manuals specifically written for sexual minorities are also now published.