Why I’m Not Going to Read “50 Shades of Grey”

Have you heard about (or read) this book? Sometimes I’m ahead of the trends; I read Hunger Games before the movie was a twinkle in Lionsgate’s eye, before there was a sequel or a trilogy, even. With 50 Shades of Grey, however, I was slow on the uptake, having heard about it on the Today show only this week. Seems like Everyone has been talking about it.

I’m picky about the bandwagons I jump on. I won’t say I never do groupthink. I read Water for Elephants at the height of its popularity because I have a thing for Christoph Waltz (okay and I was curious to see Pattinson in something other than Twilight) and wanted to see the movie version, but my mom ingrained me with the read-before-you-watch dogma as a child. That parental paradigm got her out of having to say “no” to many of my requests to view R-rated movies. “You want to see Silence of the Lambs? How about you read the book first and then let me know.” I read the book. I didn’t want to see the movie. My mom was a genius. But I digress.

I refused to read Eat Pray Love at any point, and the same goes for The Help. Some of it was pure aversion to following popular trends, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that the books fell into my least favorite genre category of semi-literary, general fiction, i.e. Oprah Book Club material. Also, as recently discussed among some of my favorite bloggers (http://donttakemybooksaway.wordpress.com/ and http://thecheapreader.wordpress.com/ ), life’s too short to waste time reading what you don’t like. When reading a book feels like taking your medicine, eating brussel sprouts, slogging through quick sand, or gagging on a spoonful of sugar, then JUST DON’T DO IT.

I seriously doubt, from what I’ve read about it so far, that 50 Shades of Grey would have wound up on Oprah’s Book Club. If it still existed, then it’s likely the author, E.L. James, might have ended up on Oprah’s couch at some point to discuss the response to it a la Newsweek’s recent “expose”:

Here’s a synopsis of the story from Amazon so we can all sort of follow along:

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

I’m not totally opposed to erotica. I watched The Secretary and 91/2 weeks and did not immediately drown in a puddle of sleaze. If the SMBD was the only issue, I might venture to read it. But no, it’s not the kinky stuff that stops me from checking this out at the library; it’s the comments about the origins of the story that generally have me gacking up hairballs. Rather than resummarize, I’ll paste from Wikipedia (I know, I know, Wikipedia has to be taken with a grain of salt) Fifty Shades of Grey was originally developed from a Twilight fanfiction entitled Master of the Universe under the penname "Snowqueens Icedragon". The fanfiction then focused on Stephenie Meyer’s characters of Edward and Bella. James removed the piece after receiving comments due to the sexual nature of the books, but later decided to rewrite Master of the Universe as an original piece with her own characters. The reworked and extended version of Master of the Universe was titled Fifty Shades of Grey, with the names of the main characters changed. The novel was released in both e-book and a print-on-demand paperback in June 2011 by The Writers’ Coffee Shop, a virtual publisher based in Australia. Also, this is a most interesting blog post, supposedly from someone who knew James when she was still Snowqueens: http://www.popculturejunkie.net/profiles/blogs/master-of-the-universe.

ERRRRRRT! That’s the sound of me putting on my breaks. Did you say “developed from Twilight fanfiction?” What’s the fastest way to ensure I won’t read something? (1) Tell me its fanfic and (2) it’s associated with Twilight.

If that weren’t enough (and, oh yes, it is quite enough), then excerpts like this are the final nail in the coffin: “In spite of my poingnant sadness, I laugh”.

In light of my poinent aversion to all I’ve heard and read about this book so far, I pass.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alison
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 15:45:54

    When talk first began about the book, I quickly learned it was developed from Twilight fanfiction. That put it for sure on my “do not read list”. I eventually read the summary and knew I did the right thing. Ick.


  2. Elizabeth
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 16:11:02

    Yeah… this is absolutely not the thing for me. And I am pretty astonished that it has been making its round on the morning talk shows. The society we live in totally confuses me– an erotic romance based is popular at the same time that girls are sluts for using birth control pills? WTF, America? In spite of my poignant curiosity, I too will be skipping this one.
    P.S. Don’t ask me what poignant curiosity is. Maybe someone who write purple prose can explain.


  3. Sandra
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 23:35:59

    Everyone was reading Shades of Grey on the plane today while I finished the last of the Hunger Games. Was wondering what it was so thanks for the non-review review!


  4. Sandra
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 23:38:18

    Of course now I have to figure out what fanfiction is…lol…fans that are modeling on other writers’ work? Lord who knows I will google it.


    • squee1313
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 11:06:05

      Yeah, basically fan fiction is someone who is not the author using characters and settings from the real book to write new stories. For some reason, it seems to involve sex most of the time. Like, “Let’s imagine Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley all grown up and knocking boots. Ewww, no thanks.


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