Wednesday, April 25, 2012

50 Shades of HUH?

On my weekly "What Are You Reading" I included a very brief note saying that I did not finish FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by EL James.  Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, let me start off by saying, I do NOT judge you by what you are reading or not reading.  I even have plenty of friends that do not read at all - no matter how hard I try!  So, I do not judge any of you who are reading and enjoying this trilogy.  I certainly don't judge you if your spouses and partners are benefiting from said enjoyment (nudge, nudge...wink, wink)

I feel like I have to talk about this book to some of my unsuspecting readers out there. 

Even though it's stated on the cover - the back cover - FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is erotica.  So, if you choose to download it to your iPad, be careful it doesn't end up on your kids' iTouch through the iCloud

If you enjoy romance novels, but get a little squeamish or uncomfortable by some of the more graphic sex scenes this is NOT your book.  There is sex...a lot of sex...a lot of freaky this book...and that's only in the first 100 or so pages that I read.

If you are an adult who enjoys sexy times in your books (bow chicka wowwow) and want a little heat in your bedtime reading, go for it.  Just whatever you do, please think twice before choosing it for your book club.  This is one of those books that a lot of women are reading, or else it wouldn't be on the bestsellers list (bestsellers' lists?!? more later...) but a few women might not feel comfortable discussing.  A friend of mine recently compared the book to the movie Nine and a Half Weeks, which was a perfect example.  I might watch the movie late at night, after the kids are in bed, but I wouldn't want to watch that movie with my girlfriends and then expect to sit around drinking wine discussing it.  But that's just me. I'm a prude.

Wait, no I'm not!  I'm not a prude!  I like Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series) and Janet Evanovich (Ranger and Morelli, anyone??)  so I appreciate a little heat in my lighter reading. I was just probably completely unprepared for 50 SHADES OF GREY.  No, I take that back.  True, I was not prepared, but if I enjoyed the book, I would have finished it.  This time, it just wasn't my kind of heat.  Full disclosure, I prefer the kind of heat in YA books - the kind that fades to black, like an old Doris Day movie. 

So, my own reasons for not finishing it aside, I'm still blown away by how MANY people are reading it, and then continuing on to read the other two books in the trilogy (yes, it's a trilogy...and I feel that I've lost half my readers to online shopping).  But Why? Why 50 SHADES OF GREY?  This is not the first piece of erotica to be printed.  In fact, romance books available now go way beyond your mom's Harlequin romances and offer up their own hot stuff in many forms (modern mysteries, bodice rippers, etc.), some of which are actually quite good.  I was surprised to learn how many book blogs are dedicated to romance novels.  So, why has this book broken the boundary and landed on the Bestsellers Lists?? Why was there an entire table dedicated to the trilogy at Barnes and Noble?  I don't get it.

There you have it.  This was not a review.  It wasn't even an opinion piece.  Consider this your heads-up.  If you're curious, go for it, but keep it away from the kids.  If you're squeamish, you've been warned. 

More romance books:
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Harlequin Blaze
Avon Romance (HarperCollins)
Romance at Random House


Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

And now I'm only more intrigued...

bermudaonion said...

I think this one is all the rage because it's gotten so much attention on talk shows even non-readers have heard of it. I give you credit for giving it a go - I know it's not for me.

Zibilee said...

Our book club is reading this one, and I am not really thrilled about it. I am not a prude by any means, but I can't imagine what the discussion on this one is going to be like...

I think you make some great points. I think sex scenes in literature can be wonderful and steamy, if done with tact and taste.

I have yet to crack open the book, but will be reading it shortly :/

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

i started to read it on my break at work. I work at a bookstore. I found the writing to be too simple and silly. Sexy times aside, I still want a bit better writing. Overall, i love that people are buying it up. Go for it!! keep the book business going, whatever it takes.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've heard this book referenced as "Twilight for adults." Maybe that's the initial pull? I'm not a big fan of freaky-deaky sex in the books I read simply because that's not what I like to read about, not because I'm a prude. (Well. I can be a one at times.) But, I honestly don't know if I could sit through a romance novel ever again. The last one I read must have been twenty years ago when I was a teenager, and it was pilfered copy from my aunt's bookshelf (The Thorn Birds).

Maybe this one is also grabbing the reading audience by storm, and I hate to simplify it, but because of the cover? It's a normal cover. Not a racy bodice-ripping cover with a shirtless hunk of a man standing behind a woman with a mountain and sunset behind them both...? I don't know, I can't figure it out. Suffice it to say, I don't think I'll be picking this one up either! :)

Doug Bratton said...

My wife just read the book (and yup, her book club is discussing it). I was interested to learn how this has become a cultural phenomenon, but not curious enough to read it. I was told that the writing is very amateurish, as it was originally self-published (and possibly un-edited) as fan fiction for Twilight fans when it took off. Perhaps it caught that audience? Perhaps a lot of women are curious about BSM? I couldn't get a very strong sense of why it took off. Of course, it sounds like the ultimate super rich, super good looking bad boy fantasy that seems that women seem to understand much more than men (sorry for the overgeneralization and heterosexism).

Amy said...

I was going to say what Natalie said in her comment - I heard this book referred to as 'Twilight for Adults' a few times which might have encouraged many women to read the book. I don't really get that because I thought Twilight was about vampires and I haven't heard of vampires in this book, but I think Twilight was pretty popular.

I think it's possible that this might be just one of those books that caught on....women started reading it, were a little embarassed by all of the sex and the kind of sex, but also titillated (no pun intended!) and more women picked up a copy to read because a good friend was reading it or had read it and talked about it and so on...
I also thought outright curiosity about the dominant/subservient relationship might be part of the books popularity. Also the man is described as being the most handsome, wealthiest man etc. etc. which the author said in an interview is the man of every women's fantasy life.

I was a little surprised that the author is British because I thought, generally, the British are a little more reserved and kind of boring than Americans. I guess not all of them!. I don't have a problem with the sex but I'm not interested in this book because it doesn't have much of a plot, the characters don't sound very interesting and especially because the writing isn't very good - even the author said it's not well-written!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Not one for me either... I am the one at book club that will never vote for erotica, heavy romance, or westerns (dont ask.. I dont know what my thing is with cowboys or all things country but I just dont like it....) :)

I am glad you wrote your thoughts here. Even a non review helped me understand the book a bit more.

Oh - and for the record.... Ranger. Hands down. Ranger.

Have a lovely evening Alison!

Christina T said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book and helping to shed some light on what it is about.

I was surprised by how popular this book is in my library system. I was originally not planning to purchase it (our community is rather conservative) but our library is part of a consortium and there are almost 1000 holds on the first book so I bought two copies.

I don't think this would be my type of book-I prefer romance over erotica. I do think that some people will be surprised by what they get with this book while others will read it out of curiosity, knowing that it is erotic fiction with BDSM.

NPR did an article on how this book started out as erotic Twilight fanfic:

Mandy twimom101 said...

I think it's so big because it started off as an Edward and Bella fanfic. I actually started the fanfic long ago. and like you when it got to the freaky stuff had to stop. I just don't enjoy those type books.just my opinion :)

Jen Witch said...

It's definitely not my type of book. I didn't even know what it was about until I asked my husband (he's a new producer no errotica reader) and I was surprised that it has it's own table at Barnes and Noble. Not only that I heard they might make a movie and I'm confused by that. Wouldn't it be a porn if they did? I haven't read it so I don't know if it's good erotica or not. I read romance novels but I sometimes I skim the descriptive parts.

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