8 Reasons Why ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Isn’t For Me


If I wrote like that, I’d use a pseudonym too. ~from an Amazon customer one-star review of Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey has become unavoidable for me. Not to actually read it, mind you, but at work the damn thing is ubiquitous. Every day I have some nice little old lady calling in asking to be put on the list of ten kajillion other patrons who want to read it (because it was on the Today show, it has to be good, right?)

Wrong. I usually don’t make this judgment on a book I personally haven’t read, but in this case it’s the truth. I picked up a library copy just to see if I was missing anything. I wasn’t. Bad writing, typos, poor grammar, and softcore porn that sounds worse than some of the fanfic I wrote in middle school. And that was just a random flip to the middle of the book.

I have, however, read a lot of the reviews surrounding the book and its two sequels. I feel obligated as a librarian to know what my patrons are reading and why they find it so appealing. This one is more of a mystery. It’s not as if we don’t have similar titles already on the shelf (heck, I’ve seen The Story of O and Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy get checked out many times). But in the endΒ Fifty Shades is the equivalent of a blowsy woman living in a trailer park who suddenly wins the Mega Millions draw. It’s just a lightning strike in the right place at the right time…and I have no doubt its star will fade eventually.

I’ve actually had a few patrons suggest I might be jealous of author E.L. James’ sudden success. Perhaps in some reptilian way I am, but as a writer, my primary goal is to write quality, not quantity. I write because I want to be proud of my work, not because I want thousands of sexually repressed women to buy my book and give it to all their friends for book club. Although if some literary agent wanted to buy my A-Team fanfic stories, change the names of the characters, and mass-produce the result, that might be an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The real reasons I refuse to jump on the Fifty Shades bandwagon:

#1. Consider the source material.

The novels were originally written as a series of fanfics based upon Stephenie Meyer’s dreadful Twilight novels, which fail to appeal to me at all. If I want to read books about helpless female protagonists with no appealing qualities, I’ll find some 19th century bodice-rippers.

#2. I’m not into romance, even the “tame” kind.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m no prude, but when I read a good book, I’m looking for an action-packed plot, well-drawn characters, and a vivid setting. If there is sex, usually it has to be organic to any of the above (A Game of Thrones comes to mind.) If I want to just witness kinky sex acts, I can get enough of that without having to buy a badly-written book.

#3. There’s fantasy, and then there’s complete non-believability.

If being a slightly awkward female virgin with weird hair who bit her lip was all it took to get a rich, handsome billionaire interested in her, no doubt I’d be married to Donald Trump by now. I don’t buy that for a minute.

#4. Coming from an AS standpoint, the BDSM stuff does nothing for me.

Supposedly Fifty Shades breaks new ground when it comes to women’s fantasies. I’ve never had fantasies about any kind of kinky stuff, unless you count the time I thought about asking the site mascot to jump in the Chuck E. Cheese ball pit with me.

#5. Generally I don’t read things just because lots of other people are reading them too.

Hey, it’s a form of rebellion. I still haven’t read anything by James Patterson or Nora Roberts. Not because I harbor ill feelings toward either, but there’s much better stuff out there. With rare exceptions (Harry Potter), books I really enjoy never make it to the bestseller lists.

#6. The A-Team effect on me.

If there isn’t a car chase, a shootout, an aerial dogfight, swordplay, pirates, ninjas, and/or a helicopter exploding, it’s hard to keep my interest these days.

#7. I have so much else to read.

Seriously…if you were trying to read a book on quantum physics, the Song of Ice and Fire, Sartre, and Confucius’ Analects all at once, would you want to add a glorified Harlequin romance to the mix?

#8. I’ve already seen the parody version and it made me laugh. A LOT.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is. I highly recommend it.

For any of my readers who’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, what did you think? If you’re going to read it or not, why or why not?

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 9, 2012.

27 Responses to “8 Reasons Why ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Isn’t For Me”

  1. I also have no interest in this book for pretty much all the same reasons you listed here. (Although I’m happy to swap “magical battles”, “demons”, “sorcerers”, and other accoutrements of urban fantasy for your A-Team effect.)

    Speaking of parodies, though, I thought you may enjoy speaker7’s plot summary/parody if you haven’t read it already. The first post is here.

    • I can totally dig the magical battles, demons, and sorcerers, Jo. They’re much more believable than yet another Twilight ripoff IMO. Thanks for pointing me to speaker7’s hilarious parody. I needed a good laugh today and that was it. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m amazed you were able to write that whole post without referring to “47 Shades of Pink” by yours truly. Rumor has it the American Pork Council is considering me for an award or lawsuit or something. Pardon my shameless self promotion, but at least my version has an illustration! http://1pointperspective.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/forty-seven-shades-of-pink/

    • You know what? I *did* read that bac-o-licious piece of genius today and was drooling. I didn’t refer to it simply because, ya know, I didn’t want to get sued for plagiarism. πŸ˜‰ Anything involving bacon immediately gets my attention.

      • I’m sorry…I hate myself for plugging that on your post. I also have a natural aversion to reading or watching whatever everyone else is looking at. That’s probably why I’ve never gotten around to watching Star Wars.

  3. I fully appreciate this thoughtful post and that it includes numerous reasons I won’t read it is a bonus. I’m completely against censorship but just because someone will buy and read what you write doesn’t mean it should be written or sold and doesn’t make James a writer. Sadly this just allows people to think of themselves as readers without ever really understanding what a good book can be.

    • Thanks for stopping by! You make an excellent point about censorship. I agree that we shouldn’t censor books; however, the bookshelves are crammed with complete tripe these days. It’s hard to get kids (I work with mostly teens) to read anything other than derivative, formulaic stuff if they read at all. The ones I’ve gotten to read Palahniuk, Douglas Adams, or Murakami are usually the smart ones.

  4. Total agree with you on all acounts. I thought I wanted to read it then I read the review and after that I was like no thanks

  5. I hadn’t even heard of this book until like five days ago. Suddenly it’s everywhere. What the hell is going on? I am so badly informed. Anyway, haven’t read it, but enjoyed your post and the video nonetheless πŸ™‚

  6. lol #5..and yet you were curious enough to find out what the big deal was..hahahahahaha/…hype always sells..i prefer to just stay away

  7. I haven’t heard of it, but I’ll be sure to avoid it, so thanks for the warning πŸ™‚ Twilight + fanfic = avoid squared!

    Quantum physics is some weird stuff. I’ve read a couple of pop sci books on it, then I wanted to move on to string theory, but that book started with some background and I have to admit I got bogged down around the quantum chromodynamics… Maybe I should give it another go, but like you I have many other books yammering for my attention!

    • Quantum physics is downright magical when you think about it. Let me know what you’re reading, as I’m always up for another good science book (would you believe there’s actually a book called ‘String Theory for Dummies?’)

      • Maybe that’s the one I should try πŸ™‚ though that sort of thing does worry me a bit. I dread the day I spot ‘Brain surgery for Dummies’… πŸ˜€
        Sorry, I can’t remember which book it was, it was a while ago and I never did finish it.

  8. Kiefer bought me that book. I think as a joke. But I had to read it anyways. I’m halfway through…and not impressed.

  9. Haven’t read it….don’t intend to (haven’t read any TWILIGHT or seen any of the movies either)….but I did just finish a book that may have been the “FIFTY SHADES” of the 1700s……TOM JONES. It has “racy humour” and according to the introduction, its publication “caused an outrage.” Of course, compared to what passes as “racy humour” now, TOM JONES is fairly tame.

  10. I have no interest in reading. Once you mentioned Twilight, any interest ended there.

    I would read Game of Thrones, but I need to make some headway through my personal bookshelf before I start buying or checking out any new books, plus it too is rather trendy right now and everyone around me has been driving me crazy with it. I might do a vid of my book shelf, although I don’t think everyone is going to dig my taste in reading entirely.

  11. I actually did stoop to reading the first one – needless to say that I won’t be reading number 2 or 3. I was horrified, not so much by the graphic sex scenes as by the fact that women are flocking to buy it. Who in this world would be attracted to a man who wants to beat the s**t out of you? I’m sorry but the moment he used the words ‘I want to hurt you’ It lost all its sex appeal for me. Plus as you said it really is terribly written. I actually didn’t know it was a fanfic when I read it, but when I found out afterwards it certainly made sense. That is exactly how it reads as a really poorly written FanFic.

  12. LMAO! Heather that video had me rolling. I also have not read the book, but my cousin did and said about what you did. Thanks for the laugh.

  13. […] Konik gives us her 8 Reasons Why ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Isn’t for Me. This lady is a hoot, and I think we should all encourage her to write her ownΒ Fifty Shades of […]

  14. Thanks for the hoot. And here I am from that notorious Maryland library that didn’t buy it. LOL.

  15. I have not read the books, don’t plan to either.
    But probably for a few different reasons. A common denominator that I’ve seen and heard in every review is that from literary standpoint, it’s poorly written. I think the author is attempting to break through and make something non-mainstream (BDSM) mainstream and create the same kind of fad following as Twilight. There are after all some similar threads between BDSM and Vampire folklore.

    What boggles my mind, is that people who are not interested in fetishes, non-vanilla sexuality and alternative lifestyles to begin with are picking the book up and reading it and being ‘horrified’.

    That seems equivalent to being hetero, picking up some gay erotica, and saying “Ewww…all that gay sex is kinda gross”.

    Then there are those who misinterpret the Dominant / Submissive roles as being misogynistic. There are just as many men who enjoy being dominated by women. Female domination, the “dominatrix” has been a long standing icon of the BDSM community. There are some who enjoy both roles that label themselves as “switch”. There are some women that have control issues and enjoy this lack of control in their sex life. I’ve been happily married to one for 14 years.

    My point being (more directed at the commentors than the author), don’t be too judgmental of a lifestyle you don’t understand or participate in. But certainly be judgmental of poorly written fad books that misrepresents what BDSM is and isn’t. There are much better books out there such as “The Story of O”, and “The Way of a Man with a Maid” that cover the subject matter. Love the one you’re with. peace. out.

  16. Reblogged this on level47charizard.

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