50 Shades of Grey and Decency

I read a mention of this article from the Boston Globe, about reading 50 Shades of Grey in public, on Bookriot yesterday and it got be thinking about the decency of making your reading of Shades of Grey public.

I’m not sure I can even remember the last time people were telling me about a book this much outside of the book blogging community. My boss has told me I should read it because I “like reading books”, people are on about how much they love Mr Grey all over the place on facebook. Amazon keeps deciding I must want to read it because it’s so popular. Even a friend who I would have said would be the last person to read it has read it- on the kindle, when it was still free.  I’ve even seen people reading it out and about. Including a whole host of staff in HMV who were trying to find out if it was really worth the hype (apparently not).

Now usually I would be all for it. I wish more people read but there is something a bit seedy about being so open about your reading of erotica. I mean it’s not designed for reading pleasure exactly, is it? Of course at first when it was only on kindle it was a bit more discrete. Nobody could tell you were reading it unless you told them, and you could tell whoever you wanted to tell. Yes the book has a level of discretion too, but because everyone knows what it is it looses the discretion of those covers. I suppose what gets to me is that you wouldn’t tell an acquaintance about some great erotica you had read online, or post some amazing porn you had watched on facebook, why has it become acceptable to do that with Shades of Grey?

Plus when it comes to reading it in public. Well either that’s adding an extra thrill or just a bit uncomfortable and inappropriate surely. I would certainly rather feel embarrassed for the person that imagine that it might be giving them sort of thrill to know I know what they’re reading!

So, no I haven’t read it (but would I tell you if I had?!). There is a small part of me which is interested, but from the little snippets I have read/heard I don’t really think it’s worth it.

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14 responses to “50 Shades of Grey and Decency

  1. Anonymous

    I agree with absolutely everything you have said, especially the ‘would you share porn on facebook’ bit. I haven’t read it either, but from the quotes I’ve seen it seems…seedy to say the least and that’s not my kind of thing. But the again, should we be complaining that more people are picking up books, even if it’s a crap one?


  2. Not my kind of thing either, maybe that’s really why I don’t like seeing people talking about it everywhere. I suppose that it’s good people are reading though, and maybe from this they’ll find something with, shall we say, more literary merit.


  3. Toots

    Well, I haven’t read it, and it may have some merit. However, I think it’s a feature of book markets that people read stuff because others are reading it. This is why books eg The Da Vinci Code get to the top of the charts. Not from merit but because people are curious. They read the book because everyone seems to be, and then may find it is not as good as the sales suggest. It’s not loke buying music because you have already heard and enjoyed it.

    On the other hand I believe Bird Song got into the charts because people were actually recommending it to each other although it had not been picked up by the critics or publicised intensively. Haha- some really bad sex in that book, too. I heard on the radio that to read authentic descriptions of passion read John Banville’s latest.


  4. Oh yes, certainly hearing about a book makes more people read it, I just find it strange that so many people are willing to talk about it so publicly. I can see them telling their close friends, you know the people you tell everything to, but broadcasting it to all your facebook friends just seems a bit to personal- I know I have facebook friends that I haven’t talked to in years in ‘real life’.

    I think I read Birdsong because you read it…I still really like it anyway. Yes the sex scenes are bad- but at least they’re not what make up the book!


  5. I am not even going to attempt to read. NO interest at all.

    Silver’s Reviews


  6. Well last time I read something just because so many people were going on about it it was Twilight. That did not turn out well!


  7. Ceinwenn

    Lucybird, the sex, contrary to what you seem to think, isn’t what makes up the book(s). There actually is a story behind the series & having read all three books I find it unbelievable that some people refuse to read them because of the sex. It takes up less than a quarter of the first book & even less in each of the subsequent books.

    Some of the story-line annoyed me no end, but overall I’d say the stories were no better or no worse than some of the crap Dan Brown has foisted onto the world. As for sharing with the general public that you are reading them, I say why not? Why should people me ashamed of what they’re reading? People aren’t ashamed of reading Jilly Cooper, or Lady Chatterly’s Lover.


  8. Hi Ceinwenn,

    I know I haven’t read the books so really I can’t comment on any storyline beyond what I have heard. I did certainly expect there to be some storyline simply because I doubted it would be possible to write three whole volumes of a novel that contains only sex. (Possibly unfortunately) The books do seem to have been presented as being primarily erotica-not just in the press but also by people I have talked to who have read them. However that’s not really the reason I don’t want to read them, more that I have heard that the writing itself is not very good quality, whether during the erotic sections or not.

    I know quite a few people have been critical of the BDSM themes in the books, and that she ‘changes’ him. They suggest that this somehow suggests to women that it’s ok to be treated violently by your partner and if you really love him he will change. This is never something I have really had a problem with however, I think to be in that kind of sexual relationship you would have to have a lot of trust in your partner- although obviously not having read the books I don’t know if this comes across.

    As for Jilly Cooper and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Well I suppose Lady Chatterly’s Lover is seen as a classic which makes it more acceptable- and which suggests people won’t be reading it for the ‘thrill’. Jilly Cooper I must admit I didn’t even realise was anything close to erotic, I guess maybe that element might be less popularly known so people might not think ‘oh she’s reading a racy book’.

    Maybe I’m overly sensitive to reading in public- I do tend to expect people to be looking over my shoulder when I am reading ‘racy’ sections in books when I’m in public, with 50 Shades of Grey I would worry that everyone would know.


  9. I read this, it’s not my genre, but I was curious about the hype. It’s not brilliant, but neither was this book all about sex. Oh well, it was, I guess, but it had a proper story line and didn’t just go from one sex session to the next just for the sake of it.

    I’m not sure I’d want to read this in public either, as you say, people reading over your shoulder, that would be awful!


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  11. Ceinwenn

    Sorry Lucy, that came across WAY more aggressive than I intended! I read the books well before I knew about any of the hype surrounding them & I probably wouldn’t have read them had I known about the hype, cause I typically avoid books that are hyped. Especially when I know it’s typically non-readers doing the hype-ing.

    There is no doubt that these will never be considered literature, but they weren’t bad, either. As for the sex, maybe I’m just odd, lol. There really wasn’t that much & there was only one scene that I thought to myself “oh, that was a bit risqué!” There was far more talk about the BDSM world than there were actual sex scenes, and especially more talk than BDSM sex scenes. The “plain vanilla” sex was more prevalent, which tied into Ana’s desire to change Christian.

    Now, that said, anyone who says that the books engenders the belief amongst women that it’s ok to let your boyfriend hit you, cause “your love will change him”, either has no clue when it comes so dominants & submissives, or has read a completly different book than I did!

    Ana tried to & (in my opinion, to the detriment of the books) succeeded in changing Christian’s sexual appetite because she was disgusted with how he ended up getting involved in the BDSM world in the first place, not because she found that world abhorrent. She was actually quite turned on by a lot of the aspects of that world.

    I sort of understand your reluctance at the general public knowing you’re reading “Mommy porn” but it’s a shame we’re so uptight about people judging us for what we’re reading. I do get it, though & am guilty of it myself – buying my chic-lit on my kindle instead of in paperback so that my OH doesn’t take the pee!


  12. lol that’s ok, it’s easy to do that online.

    Hype tends to put me off too, it took me a while to read The Hunger Games because here was so much hype- I was actually a bit interested.

    I suppose her ‘changing’ him makes more sense when you explain it- but I still don’t really agree she should have been able to.

    Lol I get a bit embarrassed when I read chick-lit too (which is rare) but I don’t let it stop me with that, maybe because it’s more socially acceptable.


  13. I have to say I’m so totally not interested in even picking up the book but I did find your post thoughtful. What’s that old saying, “We’ve come a long way, baby?” yeah.


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