Home > Books, Fiction, In the Media, Other People's Stuff, The Blotter, Writing > Why I Will Not Read Fifty Shades of Grey

Why I Will Not Read Fifty Shades of Grey

I could say *SPOILER* I’m a book snob, but *SPOILER* that’s not much of a surprise to anyone acquainted with my reading habits. I already approach the popular with a wary air of someone sniffing a package of chicken breasts and trying to figure out if they have a funk, or cautiously sniffing a bottle of milk before taking a long swig right from the carton. Caution is merited because I was an idiot and laid down the cash and invested HOURS of time on the Twilight series. I’m not worried so much about the money (I sent them to a friend and when she asked me how much I wanted for them/shipping, I asked her just to make a donation to an adult literacy program), but the sheer number of hours I spent scowling at the page and trying to figure out why the hell such horrible writing had scored rabid fans en masse puzzled me. I wondered if they’d gone “vegetarian” as their vamp heroes had and maybe gotten into a nest of rabid squirrels or racoons, and I wondered if TV and other popular media had so terribly brain damaged them that they couldn’t tell the difference between good writing and bad.  **DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that my writing is a paragon of any standard of virtue, however, I think I can sniff out the good from the bad when I see it. I don’t think I’m fantastic, and even if I was, I probably wouldn’t, however, I have role models to whom I aspire and I work at reaching those goals.**

When I first heard about the Fifty Shades books, it was vague mumbles on Goodreads, then a few murmurs on Facebook. Luckily (perhaps?) for me, I am in school and my reading time is pretty limited, so I didn’t immediately run out and scavenge up a copy. While I’m in class, I do the majority of my reading through audiobook during my morning and afternoon commute and what scant nibbles at other books I can manage whenever I can squeeze in a few minutes. (There is an alchemy of creating time to do just such a thing, if you’re creative, diligent and carry either a paper book or fully charged Kindle with you at all times. Barring that, a smartphone will work, as long as you’re not gambling your life on its battery…)

The premise of the story intrigued me, as it did many others. I’m pretty open minded which isn’t as bad a trait as some people (and news networks) would make it out to be, and I’m not a prude. I don’t believe sex is dirty or nasty (unless you want it to be, and only then with a consenting partner), and I don’t believe it is or should be a purely procreative act. As far as I’m concerned, let your freak flag fly proudly, but just keep your thrills to consenting adults (no kids, no animals). In return, I expect the same treatment. As my favorite character in HBO’s Queer as Folk said on the matter “Unless fucking YOU, it’s none of your business.”

(Video included for your enjoyment, but bastard YouTube is not linking to The Line correctly. Skip to 12:15 to hear it. I can say that the rest of the episode is categorically NSFW. Watch the whole thing at your own risk.)

So, with all that in mind, I’m probably somewhere in the target audience Venn diagram for the Fifty Shades series, and I’ll admit that I was tempted to read through it. I had a friend who gave it somewhat ambivalent reviews, but she’s as book nerdy as me, so I wasn’t surprised. I even saw scathing rants against it that I weighed given the credibility of the writer involved and where I’ve seen her posts previously and decided if it was something people both loved and hated, it might be worth a read. Controversy, especially when heated, can be a very good thing indeed.

I considered picking up the series to see what all the hubbub was about until I saw this…

She became obsessed with the “Twilight” series after seeing the 2008 film based on the book of the same name.

James began writing her erotica series on Fanfiction.net. Early drafts of 50 Shades were written from the perspective of Bella and Edward from “Twilight.” The two later transformed into Ana and Christian.


The world became a little fuzzy at this point and I really don’t remember if I blacked out or threw up in my mouth, or it was a combination of both. Either way, it put me off the story. I wasted enough time on the original, why in the bloody hell would I invest more time in a series BASED ON a terrible original? You know the whole garbage-in theory? I’m a firm believer. You write what you read. The better you read, the better lessons you’ll absorb without even realizing it.
So yeah. From one hated uber-popular series sprouted a mutant spawn, equally popular. The first one sucked, and I’m thinking that a copy of it could only suck MORE. My time’s too valuable, and I’m not going to waste it on utter garbage like that. I like my brain candy, and I’ve ingested my fair share of mental cotton candy, but it wasn’t categorically bad. Just a little bad. It’s like the poprock vitamins…they’re good enough for you that you justify the fun. Or another way of saying it, “they’re not ALL bad…” This is something that cannot be said about the Fifty Shades, however.
So thank you to all you pioneers who read it, recognized it for what it was and warned the rest of us off of it before we stepped in it. I appreciate the hours banked.
I can say that there is one way I would lay down the money for this book, and only one way. Again, this is a NSFW video, but entirely worth the guffaws it inspired. Seriously, though, I want them to make this. Make it AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!
  1. July 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    If Gottfried would do an audio on this horrid series, I would listen to it for the LOL. However, considering each eBook is $10, I’m not letting James profit for my willingness to torture myself over bad reading. If I want to do that, there’s plenty of free or 99¢ comedy gold out there to kill a few brain cells. Until then, I’ll stick to the books that are worth being called erotica.

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