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Should You Read 50 Shades of Grey?

When I first wrote that I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, people said that they were waiting to hear my review.  Which is ten kinds of flattering, by the way.  And makes me feel even more sheepish when I forgo reading the copy of Moonwalking with Einstein I checked out in order to read dominant-subservient chicklit.  I feel like I’m sort of failing you on the intellectual front.

At this moment, I’m finishing up the first book and moving into the second.  Which is to say that I am committed to the cause and going to eventually move on to book three.  This is more out of curiosity than burning desire.  The difference: I really love Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books.  The last few ones have been so-so (I think I’m around book 6 or 7 in the series), but overall, I enjoy them.  Which is why I keep reading them.

I am reading 50 Shades of Grey because I feel like I can’t not read 50 Shades of Grey.  After slogging through the first book, I feel like I’m in too deep to give up.  It would be like opening up a box of stale cracker jacks, eating a handful, commenting that it tastes like sawdust, and then throwing out the box.  Okay, so looking at that analogy, that is what a sane person would do.  But I am committed to continuing to eat those stale cracker jacks until I get to the prize at the bottom of the box.  Even if I suspect that prize is more like a temporary tattoo of a clown rather than a coupon for a free iPad.

The writing is awful, but that doesn’t phase me.  There are plenty of blogs I read where the writing isn’t amazing but for whatever reason, I connect with the author.  So I keep reading.  Religiously.  Their bad writing doesn’t bother me.  I am not turned off by the fact that they are listing what they ate that day and recounting their weird dreams.  It’s the same phenomenon of being in love.  You can point out various things that you like about the person, but no one can really pinpoint what made them fall in love with this person rather than that person who shares the same qualities.  And that is how I feel about blogs too: the draw of well-written ones are clear.  The draw of poorly-written ones is not quite as clear, and yet I remain with them, loyal to the end.  So I can get through bad writing in blog or book form.

And because this book is LITERALLY Twilight sans vampires avec a dom-sub relationship (I mean, you can literally point at each scene and state how it corresponds to a scene in Twilight), reading this book is like revisiting an old friend.  I’ll think to myself, OH!  This is where Edward… I mean, Christian… I mean, Edward… saves her from the car… I mean biker.  Remember those good times, Mel?

So, should you read 50 Shades of Grey?  I guess the real question is how you feel about your time.  If you are the sort who would walk out of a bad movie because you hate wasting time, this book probably isn’t for you.  But if you are the sort who likes to go to the movies, and you’ll even sit through a bad one or two because your best friend loves it and then you can quote it afterwards (and yes, I do plan on calling my friend at 3 am and waking her up this weekend, breathing heavily into the phone while I growl, “are you biting your lip?” — shout out to all my fellow Greyers!), then I highly recommend 50 Shades of Grey.

So that’s my take at the moment.  Anyone convinced to give it a try?  Or are you now running screaming from the bookshelf?

38 comments

1 It Is What It Is { 04.27.12 at 10:26 am }

I begrudgingly read the first book, too, and agree that the writing leaves a lot to be desired. I found myself rolling my eyes (oh no!) at many of the sex scenes which I found to be gratuitous (um, yeah, but that IS the point and I later embraced them). What I did like and what caused me to read all 1,231 pages over the course of six days what the relationship between Christian and Ana. I am a sucker for a love story, even more so when one of the the couple is broken and dark.

Writing aside, I LOVED the trilogy and here, 4 days after reading the last page of Book 3, I still miss my Christian.

Dr. Oz dedicated a show this week on why the trilogy has helped spark a sexual revolution amongst women and their mates. He had a panel of experts (sexperts, really) and an audience full of people who had read at least the first book. I appreciated the dialogue because it essentially pointed to how important what happens between a woman’s ears is to her libido. The sexual exploits of Christian and Ana woke something up in women whose libido was dormant and, no matter what, that is a great thing. (And, many admitted to reading passages aloud to the husbands, reading the books together with them, and/or acting out scenes from the books as a sort of sex primer. No harm in that, either).

2 Arwen Rose { 04.27.12 at 11:12 am }

I have never ever been one for chicklit but am weirdly intrigued by this so just today bought the lot! Hubs just read a review and messaged me saying ha ha by ‘girly book’ you meant soft porn for girls! We’ll see!

3 Turia { 04.27.12 at 11:21 am }

I feel I will end up reading these the same way I ended up reading Twilight- because every one else is reading them and I have to see what all the fuss is about. And I will probably hate the first one (just like with Twilight) but keep reading because I’ve devoted that much time to it, so I better see it through. When it comes to books, I’m with you on the stale crackerjack box.

I will say that I LOVED Moonwalking with Einstein, and now I use the memory palace to memorize my debit card, library card, and credit card numbers.
T.

4 Sharon { 04.27.12 at 12:05 pm }

I don’t plan to read it. The comparisons to the Twilight series make me think it won’t appeal to me. I started reading Twilight because everyone was raving about how great it was. I thought the first book was so-so, had to force myself to finish the second one, and then gave up.

My time is limited and precious, and there are so many writers whose books I enjoy that it doesn’t make sense to me to waste time on mediocre ones. But to each her own. :-)

5 a { 04.27.12 at 12:19 pm }

See, now I will probably read the first book to see how bad the writing actually is. Like you, I sometimes don’t mind bad writing if the story is good. Unlike you, I did not get that out of Twilight. So, maybe…

6 stinkb0mb { 04.27.12 at 12:44 pm }

i’m actually currently reading the first book now after reading some many recs for it on twitter. i’m up to page 27 and yes it is taking me slightly longer than normal because i’m finding it a bit of a struggle to get into – the writing isn’t the best, very true!!

i’ve just finished reading the bride stripped bare for the 3rd time and that was still as amazing as the first time i read it!

7 Chickenpig { 04.27.12 at 12:49 pm }

I’m one of those people that would rather leave a movie theater than waste my time. I have a few books on my Kindle already that I haven’t bothered to finish. But if I get bored enough, who knows. It’s got real sex in it, right?

8 Audrey { 04.27.12 at 1:11 pm }

I read a passage from the first book online somewhere and laughed my butt off at how badly it was written and how much people seem to go gaga for it. It mean, if they liked that they should pop over to Literotica for more of the same. ;)

9 JB { 04.27.12 at 1:51 pm }

I just put the same question on my blog as well. I think I will pick them up…hey, we are actively TTC so anything that helps what can be monotonous is a good thing :) Thanks for the review. I’m a voracious reader and hopefully will have time for indulgent reading this summer.

10 Trisha { 04.27.12 at 2:10 pm }

I found a tumbler that just posts quotes from the book and after reading some of them I can’t imagine ever reading the book. It was all just too painful.

It’s not really my style of book anyways so I think I’ll pass. I do find it interesting on how much it has taken over though.

11 magpie { 04.27.12 at 2:15 pm }

I hardly ever go to the movies because I’d rather read a book. But not badly written S&M. I think I’d rather watch bad TV than read that.

12 JustHeather { 04.27.12 at 2:51 pm }

*giggle* Ok, these books sound like fun. Even if it is a useless and pointless sort of (grown up) school girl fun (like Twilight, which I loved). I LOVE books and I LOVE reading, so, I’m sure I’ll read them at some point. And hubby will make fun of me reading the books and then I’ll have to read some of to him and we can laugh together. Yup, this will definitely be fun.

13 KeAnne { 04.27.12 at 3:39 pm }

Ok. My sanctimony is being worn down by sheer curiosity at this point. I might have the read at least the first one. I’ve defended plenty of romance novels, so maybe I should give 50 Shades a try.

14 Shelli { 04.27.12 at 4:36 pm }

I started reading it last week (Book One). The writing is somewhat annoying but it’s the sort of escapism I like when I have my iPad, my sleepytime tea, and my cat with me when insomnia hits at midnight. I’ll keep reading for now…. then I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to read some of it to hubby for a good chuckle.

15 Orodemniades { 04.27.12 at 8:51 pm }

NO. Because:

a) you should not make a profit on fanfiction, that’s part of the freakin’ deal

b) there is so much good smut out there, why on earth would you pay for badly written smut? Try Porn Battle (Where everyone wins!) or, gosh, name your poison, I might know of a good source (and FanFiction.net is *not* a good place for well written smut)

c) it’s badly written. This is the part that annoys me the most.

d) the cover art is terrible. Ditto for books 2 & 3, which are available as of today.

e) I cannot believe in this day and age that women are still so closeted about their sexuality – honestly, this is the most shocking part of all. I mean, seriously? I’m not suggesting everyone has to go watch porn (Sturgeon’s Law more than applies)(also, the level of violence and hatred of women is extraordinary) or anything, but geez, it’s just sex, yanno?

/rant

16 Orodemniades { 04.27.12 at 8:53 pm }

Oh yeah, I’m most familiar with XF smut – I’ll put some links up on Birch & Maple.

17 Kimberly { 04.27.12 at 10:44 pm }

I’m still just blown away with how many women are latching onto this series and how its becoming everyone’s dirty little secret to talk about with their girlfriends. When you have actually read it as its original purpose of fan fiction on a twilight fan fiction site (which I have), I’m completely shocked by it. Out of all the stories on these fan fiction sites, this is the last story I would expect to be turned into a novel. Because honestly, just like blogs, there’s some really good fan fiction and some really bad fan fiction. All I want to do is talk to every single woman who really enjoyed the book and show them other fan fictions, well written fan fiction, in a similar format. You know, and show them what they are really missing.

18 Jessica { 04.28.12 at 4:23 pm }

I’m not really understanding where the “terrible writing” comes in. Sure, she’s no JK Rowling or Stephen R Lawhead…. but most people aren’t. And it’s a HUGE step up from Stephanie Meyers, who sucks so hard the air around her has got to be surrounded by hickies. Twilight was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot. James writes in a way that is identifiable. Ana’s thoughts are something someone would actually think, IMO. I’m absoutely not into BDSM and that’s what I’m having trouble getting through. The scenes are NOT my style. I don’t have any of those fantasies or desires. But I think the story is fun and I want to keep reading to know what happens at the end. I gout through about 6 pages in Twilight and actually threw the book in the recycling bin. It was awful. I haven’t had the problem with this book.

I would like my husband to read it to open up a dialogue between us. I want him to “claim me” in public, if you will; to hold my hand or pull me close in public and let everyone else know “She’s MY wife.” I think that if couples are having conversations and people can please each other in the bedroom then that’s a great thing to come out of this. A book doesn’t have to be phenomenally written to be good, I’ve learned.

My husband, a movie buff who thinks about them critically, has said that Avatar is a crappy movie, but it’s awesome. The acting is terrible and the plot-line is so-so if you realy think about it. But it’s entertaining as hell and beautifully filmed so we like it and watch it. It’s the same way. I just don’t like it when people give something critical acclaim, like Twilight, when it doesn’t deserve it. Recognize it for what it is. Ghost Rider is a shitty movie. I still like it. But I don’t go around telling people it’s the best movie of all time because I know it’s not. It’s just fun entertainment. Nothing wrong with that.

19 I_Sell_Books { 04.28.12 at 5:08 pm }

Okay, I’ll say it: 50 Shades of Grey is not a good book.

And again, she should not be making money off of fanfic w/the names changed, period. I would *never* use any of my fanfic w/new names for publishing – honestly, I just wouldn’t want my name attached to something I didn’t put my own characters or plot into. I know that may sound weird, but truthfully, there is a world of difference between fic and one’s own work. Frex, when I’m working on a novel the process might be the same, but the intent, plot, characterization is utterly different.

And quite frankly, I also think it’s really disrespectful of the authors/creators to make money off of their backs. When I get published *sends beseeching glance heavenwards* I’be ecstatic if people loved my characters enough to write fic, but, y’know, no with the money making off of my sweat and tears.

Anyhoo, clickie on my name-y for linkie to smutriffic sites.

20 Bea { 04.29.12 at 8:05 am }

Thanks for the review. I’ll skip it. I’m not averse to bad writing (movies) either, in the same way, but I don’t get time for the ones I know I’ll like at the moment.

Bea

21 Greg { 04.29.12 at 2:40 pm }

Thanks for this review. I’m trying to wrap my brains around this phenomenon. It rolled until it became an avalanche and now people believe they MUST read it. I’ll even admit: I’ve begun to point out the soft-erotic scenes in my latest women’s fiction book too…just to let reader’s know it occurs in other books and you can also get a story through the journey.

22 Anna { 04.29.12 at 3:17 pm }

I agree with everything you said in your review of the trilogy. If you like this sort of thing but need a more complicated and intense plot you must read OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. It is fantastic! Love, sex, historical fiction, a little bit of time travel It is brilliantly written, you will fall in love with the characters.

23 Chrissy { 04.29.12 at 7:14 pm }

I read the first book with in 3 days, I am hooked! I have started on the second book and it has drawn me in… I can not wait to get the the last book and see how it end… I give it a thumbs up.. Oh by the way, I am not a huge fan of reading and this has got me wanting to read a lot more!! JMHO

24 Kathy { 04.29.12 at 11:21 pm }

There was just a story on our local news about this! I thought the book sounded familiar and realized it was because I had skimmed this blog post of yours recently! Anyway, I have no idea if I will read it, but am intrigued. Thanks for sharing your take on it and to everyone else here who has weighed in! :)

25 TC { 04.30.12 at 2:06 am }

I’m 300 pages into the first book, simply because I’m intrigued. Yes, the similarities to Twilight are obvious. However, I would like to think that this series is as sexy as Twilight aimed to be. People aren’t reading the book for good writing! They’re reading for the sex!

26 Jenna { 04.30.12 at 10:45 am }

Ok…So I loved Twilight but rolled my eyes at it (Where is Christian when you need him?!) while reading it. Granted, the first book of this series HEAVILY reminds me of Twilight *BUT* books two and three are much easier to read. I truly love the charged atmosphere between Christian & Ana; it reminds me of me & the hubs sans the BDSM when we started dating. I devoured all three books in 4 days and am 1/2 way through the second reading of the series. I truly love it!

27 Kris P { 04.30.12 at 11:00 pm }

Honestly, I am disgusted than any woman in this day and age would read this garbage and support or endorse it for others to read. I hate books whose female lead is so pathetic and weak minded. I also find the character, Christian to be no better than a petophile the way he manipulates the naive and inexperienced virgin. I stopped reading after the bondage stuff was brought up. I find it disgusting that any man wants to dominate and would want a woman to submit to him and that any woman would find erotica in being submissive. Just gross and wrong. Poor literature mixed with disgusting content. No thank you. This is the first book that I have ever thrown in the trash. I would have burned it if I could, but would have been a waste of my time.

28 Kelly { 05.01.12 at 11:17 am }

Comparing this book to Twilight is absolutely hilarious. Twilight is by far the worst read unless you are in fourth grade. This book takes love, experience and sex to a whole new level that I have personally never read anywhere else before. It might be “badly written” but it’s doing something right if so many women cant put this book down! If you need a fun read and a good time, and a great conversation piece, 50 Shades of Grey is it! I’m in grad school now, so taking a break from those text books to enjoy this, it’s very much worth my while!

29 What { 05.02.12 at 4:59 pm }

Ok so yes it is like sort of reading a train wreck but you seem to need to finish it. The writing is less than stellar and sad perhaps.. Some rather steamy stuff going on however hardly erotic, When reading DH Lawrence and Lady Chatterly one needs to be near a cold shower and this is interesting but in no way erotic sad to say

30 Evelyn { 05.03.12 at 9:51 am }

The Harry Potter series got the younger generation to pick up a book willingly.
The Twilight series had the tweens engrossed in reading an actual book BEFORE the movie came out.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy appears to be doing the same thing for a large portion of the the adult female community.
That’s a good thing.

31 Linda { 05.05.12 at 9:07 am }

I am at the beach…what a great read. Can’t put it down. Women love this stuff. Most of us don’t have this in our life if we are honest. Fun to fantasize about it through a book. Can’t wait to start two. It’s simple and mindless but so entertaining. We all need this at times in our life. Relax and enjoy.

32 sw123 { 05.05.12 at 4:05 pm }

I never could get into the twilight saga but loved 50 shades. Immediately bought books 2 and 3 after I finished 1. Starting book 3 and will probably miss Christian when I’m done!

33 princess { 05.09.12 at 5:40 pm }

i loved this book. I am not into BDSM but what is compelling is their relationship and their connection to each other. The other benefit is that is has me thinking of sex more than ever before, which makes my hubby of 15 years very very happy. I am now searching for books to read that are like this . I do miss Christian and Ana. It’s a WONDERFUL romance story of a man 50 shades of f”d up and the woman who saves him. He’s a sexy billionaire control freak whose life is changed by a strong woman. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

34 JCb { 05.14.12 at 5:13 pm }

The book is so horribly written that I’m developing a real hatred for its author. It should not have been published. 50 Shades of Grey: “Holy crap” “holy sh*t” “crap” “I blinked up at him” “crap” “Stop biting your lip” “I bit my lip” “holy crap” “I blinked and tilted my head” “holy sh*t” “my inner goddess…” “crap” “Don’t bite your lip” “blink” “my subconscious…” “holy crap!” … That’s it – throw in some S&M sex between two characters you will grow to despise and you’ve got the book.

35 JCb { 05.14.12 at 5:26 pm }

Oh, and I forgot – this woman is signing a “contract” agreeing to be “a submissive”, which states that she will not look him in the eye, will call him “sir” or “Mr. Grey”, will eat, sleep and wear clothing according to his wishes, will submit to painful punishment, etc. – but repeatedly narrates in her head “Boy, he’s bossy!” … gag

36 Unimpressed { 06.15.12 at 2:50 am }

Some of the girls at work have been talking about this book for a few weeks. It sounded intriguing. I read some reviews online, and some sample text from the book. I decided it was garbage.

I’m sorry, but let’s start with the fact that this is fan fiction. Fan fiction in my opinion is blog genre and nothing more. It should never be published for profit, because it’s not original, it merely a knockoff. It is at best a pathetic excuse for lack of creativity…….you take someone else’s ideas and put your own spin on them. Stephanie Meyer(sp?) should sue for plagiarism of concept.
I finally broke down and read the damn thing. After being told over and over by effusive co-workers how great a read this was I actually bought it prior to getting on a cross state bus. What a mistake that was. First, I know better than to read while in a moving vehicle, because it makes me feel nauseated. And secondly, this book just compounded the nausea– although I have a feeling nausea would have been involved even if I was reading while sitting on a sofa, at the table……on the ground. Aside from it being poorly written (it invoked the feeling that I was doing a peer critique of a classmates work at a community center summer break class for creative writing for teens) it is full of repetitive wording (JCb’s comment above sums up this book so succinctly) childish terminology (referring to ones adult privates as “down there” and the persistent use of ‘oh my’ to let you know she was, well, turned on. ‘Oh my’? Well then , why not ‘gasp and swoon…I just got the vapors’ too?) and sandwiched in between boring as bat shit paragraphs and superfluous sample email exchanges are these grossly over gratuitous sex scenes which I found neither interesting nor arousing (which, don’t get me wrong, it does not escape me that this is predominantly the reason the book is so hot(?) right now, the sex scenes).

BDSM is not my scene, it just doesnt do it for me, and while I honestly find it just plain WEIRD, I know a lot of people out there have vastly different tastes. Weird for one is wonderful for another. Hey, whatever. As long as it’s mutually agreed upon I don’t care. Hell, I don’t care if you’re having sex with your DOG…..as long as the sex is mutually consensual.

The thing that I find repulsive in this book is the endless array of ways that Anastasia is meant to be so naive and unknowing. I mean just how much bullshit is the reader supposed to fall for? A college senior who is still a virgin? Improbable but not impossible, although I’d be more likely to believe it were the book set in the 50s, 60s, or even 70s. But it’s not, it’s set in The Now, in one of the most progressive cities in the US..
A virgin college senior who hasnt ever masturbated? Even more improbable, but I concede not impossible.
A college senior who is a virgin, has never masturbated and is for all intents an purposes completelly ignorant of sexual practices (come on, she had to be told to research dominant/submissive, bondage, safe words among other things? Seriously? I mean for Gods sake who hasn’t at least seen the movie Exit to Eden?)
A college senior who doesn’t have some kind of modern IT equipment, like a laptop, smart phone etc and doesn’t know how to use the Internet? The following commentary was uttered by me at least as many times as she bit her lip/was told to stop biting her lip in this book (hint: a LOT):
“Are you fucking kidding me? No way is that shit plausible, possible or even fathomable. Not in today’s society! What kind of moron does the author think I am?”

Unlike the Twilight Saga, the whole of which I admit to reading in 3 days flat after a lot of persuasion backed by intense boredom and lack of energy to do much else (hey, I had swine flu and was laid up for a week….there’s only so much TV a person can watch) I will not be giving the second or third 50 Shades even a look in, because I can think of 50 Other Ways of wasting my time. This book, that I actually spent $15 on, isn’t even going to spend a moment on my book shelf (and I rarely buy a book and not keep it). No, I’m taking it to the used book shop. Of course I expect not to get much for it. I’m sure there will be innumerous other used copies of it as well languishing on the dusty shelves. Or I may use it as camping toilet paper. It really is so shitty that it deserves to nothing more than to be shat upon.

37 Lady Bane { 06.18.12 at 5:26 pm }

These books sounded awful and I had every intention of never cracking one open. I was out to lunch and overheard a table of women in there late 50′s-mid 60′s talking about the book. A friend offered to lend it to me so I figured all I’d be spending was my time. I want my time back. To me it was badly written trash. I found myself wishing I could write in a character… some dark-clad badass who would break through a window and place a bullet between each of their eyes before rappelling down the building to freedom… someone to save me from this tripe. Now that’s an erotic romance.

38 Cherie { 07.13.12 at 1:38 pm }

I must say that I am a Twilight fan, and from the very start of Fifty Shades of Grey I was annoyed with the similarities to Twilight. From the descriptive character features that directly mirror Twilight, to the setting in WA, flighty mother, heroine is oblivious of her appeal to men, lead male tries to distance himself from lead female,…I could go on and on. But I could have gotten past that, maybe. The horrible writing is what killed me. I don’t get a true love story here. All I get is annoyance that Ana is so pathetic she would alter what she finds “acceptable” in a relationship for her “Fifty”
I am not into the bondage thing at all, and the only thing going through my mind in any of those scenes is my outrage. She is not a dog, you can’t command her around like that……..but she takes it. So she can deal with the silver sex balls, and the red room of pain, but when things get hot and heavy, all she can think or say is “Oh my” and “this is hot” and can only refer to “down there” Please. I’ve read hotter Grace Livingston Hill books – and those are “vanilla” romance novels if there ever was one.

These books seem to have been written by a horny 12 year old boy, and not an adult woman.

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