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Should I Read 50 Shades of Grey?

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Published August 21st 2012
Lady reading
To read or not to read?
That is the question.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

At first I thought, this question was black and white. I'm a literature student, a classicist – there's no way I could go near such tosh! Or is there simply no way I'll admit to it?

Many people don't realise that 50 Shades was first conceived as Fan-Fic (that's fan fiction, FYI).

Fan-fic is fiction written in response to an already existing story. It might elaborate on the existing plotline though prequels or sequels, or transpose the characters (or basic plot) to a different setting or time. In the case of 50 Shades, E.L James was writing in response to, yup, you guessed it – the Twilight series!

When 50 Shades was published, Erika copped a lot of flak from the online community for profiting from her fan-fic, which by nature is supposed to be more of a free, open-sharing thing. However as it's sufficiently deviant (no pun intended) from the Twilight Series, it has been allowed to exist as a creative work in its own right.

So, to read or not to read? That is the question. Admittedly, you have probably gleaned the majority of the storyline through the media frenzy that descended during the publication of the series. Girl meets boy, boy has kinky sex chamber – perhaps not exactly a Cinderella story, but even Beauty and the Beast had themes of feminine repression and awakening through a dominating male figure (well, before the whole feeding the birds scene, which was a bit cute). But let's admit that on the whole 50 shades is nothing new – just a bit more explicit. Cross 'for the plotline' off your list of reasons.

Despite what your mother says, sometimes doing things just because everyone else is, IS a good reason. Cervical cancer injections, for example. Or going to the gym.

If you're procrastinating on the periphery of literary intimacy and ALL of your friends are talking about it, well, let's put that one down as a 'maybe'. Covertly buying a copy of 50 Shades might be worth it if it keeps you in with the 'in' crowd.

Some people have been saying that 50 Shades may also put a new shine on your ... ahem ... bedtime. Whether with company or flying solo, this trilogy is claimed to put a bit more sauce in your bottle, so to speak. That said, the earth was once claimed to be flat. The Titanic was purportedly unsinkable, and the girls from The Shire are genuine representations of average Australian females.

Ultimately, it's up to you. If it were up to me, I'd say you can probably live without it. You'll also be $30 bucks better off. But if you just can't resist, at least be able to admit to it!

I think that the worst case scenario is this: you scoff for three months and then a friend forces you into borrowing her copy.
You object, but it sits on the kitchen bench, gazing at you. Inviting you.

Finally, you take a peek ... and you get hooked.

Doth the lady protest too much?! You don't want to get caught red-handed if you're pretending you're not a fan. A word of advice then – if you're going to dip a toe into the murky pool of erotica, just make sure you're prepared to get wet.
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'I met this guy who was rich and hot and rich and had grey eyes. Fifty shades of grey, you might say. I blushed. I bit my lip. He touched me down there. He kind of forced me into doing things I didn't really want to do but it was totes romantic.'

Now you've read 50 Shades of Grey. You're welcome.
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 2695 days ago
Great article Emily. I am curious but haven't bought it YET. I did have a skim through recently at a bookstore. One only has to read a few pages to realise it's not the most flawless prose and that the author is not the most talented writer. I do write erotic fiction myself, so from a sales/marketing perspective - I am interested.

What annoys me is non readers who have only read the likes of cosmo - are picking it up now and promoting on FB. Does reading 50 shades make you cool now? I guess it's at least got them reading. :-)
by Vanessa de Largie (score: 3|1343) 3112 days ago
Couldn't agree more. It is a guilty pleasure for many, though they will not admit it for fear as being seen as some kind of kinky sort. I thought it was a bit of a yawn really and I am as vanilla as they come. That whole delving into the darker parts of sexuality/romance has been done so much better by many unsung authors. It is always a fascinating thing to see what captures the interest of the public though. Twilight made young obsessive love cool again and Shades has made sexual dominance games the new thing!!!! We are an interesting species!!!!!
by KAM57 (score: 1|68) 3101 days ago
I have not read it or have any intentions to read it. It's for people who have such a dull life and look at other ways to make their dull boring life different. Why waste your time making the Author rich and live somone else's so called fantasy. I have a wonderful husband and wont change it for the world. It's such a shame that society are like sheep and follow the one in front.
by twitt (score: 1|13) 3092 days ago
M girl friend gave me a copy so I started to read it. It’s being left on the bedside table for past week untouched. Is that because I only have read a couple of pages out loud and we are entwined in uncontrollable sex? No, although that did happen on one evening. Its because it’s not very well written, there is no story line and above all its predictable. So if you want a night of uncontrollable sex (and who doesn’t) get a copy however if you want a good read buy something alse.
by paul_ (score: 0|2) 3090 days ago
Don't bother with this trilogy of thinly disguised pornographic badly written tripe. take out the all the repetitious phrases, boring
descriptions of what people ate and /or were wearing then there is very little substance to them. Still i suppose if you have a good enough publicist you could sell the phone book!!!
by k_ram (score: 0|2) 3075 days ago

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