Fifty Shades of Grey: Everybody Else Is Reading It, So Why Aren't You?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I downloaded the first book last Tuesday. Within a week, I had finished reading the entire trilogy. I'm not going to lie. There were piles of laundry, dishes in the sink, and dust bunnies in the corners. Once you pick up the first book, be prepared to ignore everyone and everything in your path.

Why was I so obsessed? Why is every woman obsessed with the steamy trilogy from newcomer E.L. James?

Here's my take on the literary obsession. I must give full disclosure here. I have an English degree and have read and dissected the classics. Having said that, here we go...

The writing is fair at best. James draws us in with the subject matter not the writing. For most readers, the world portrayed in the trilogy is not one in which we inhabit. It's disturbing yet fascinating, and that makes for an obsessive novel indeed. It's like a train wreck. You can't watch and yet you can't turn away. The trilogy will never go down in history as a literary classic, but then again, I don't think that was James' intent. She wrote to appeal to the masses, and she exceeded her goal in doing so. I did enjoy that every so often she threw a word in that required the use of a dictionary.

James does an excellent job of character development throughout the trilogy. The transformations of both Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are well done. In 'Fifty Shades of Grey' we meet a very troubled young man, Christian Grey, who hides behind his well-groomed exterior. The revelations about Grey are shocking and continue throughout the trilogy. Anastasia Steele is an inexperienced young woman who oscillates between rebellion and submission as if her life depends on it. Her emotional struggle in book 1 is heartbreaking. She is proof that we truly tread a fine line between pleasure and pain.

Greys' revelations in 'Fifty Shades Darker" give us hope that there is hope for this troubled young man. We see a man who slowly begins to come into his own and accept and understand the past. It is with Steele's unfaltering love, affection, and devotion that Grey finally makes some emotional progress. Steele makes progress in finally accepting that this beautiful, troubled man may genuinely love her. She sheds some of her insecurities and backs off from relentlessly badgering Grey about his past sexual indiscretions.

In Fifty Shades Freed, James takes a departure from the salacious sex scenes and adds some drama and suspense to a plot line that was generally lacking them. In this book we see Anastasia's transformation from a timid young woman to a determined, self-confident woman, who ultimately becomes the heroine despite Christian's efforts to be the gallant one throughout the 3 books.

As troubled and disturbed as we find Grey to be, it's impossible not to like this guy. He's sexy. He will melt you with both his soft, whispering words as well as his forceful, demanding ones. And let's admit, his sexual preferences are intriguing. And Anastasia's pleasurable responses make us even more curious.

Why do we love these books? Well, for starters, I think most women want to be taken care of on some level, and Grey satisfies that need. Many of today's moms, have a "do it all" attitude. It can become tiring being the strong one day in and day out. Having someone else make the decisions and take the initiative are part of the appeal of these books. Also, let's not kid ourselves. We've all got sexual fantasies. In this book, we can explore them vicariously through Grey and Steele. It's raunchy, and let's face it, most women don't get that in the bedroom. It's a novelty, and it's mindless entertainment. It's also taboo and twisted, and who doesn't love that in a book every once in a blue moon? Plus, I'd guess that the trilogy has ignited a spark or two in bedrooms of readers.

Whether you love or hate the books, they have definitely been a topic of discussion at play dates and school pickup lines. I've been guilty of texting girlfriends and commenting on Facebook status' pertaining to the book.

As full of sex as these books are, they are not about sex. They are about the metamorphoses of two appealing characters who we cheer on from the moment they meet. We feel their excruciating pain and their overwhelming joy. We hold out hope for a happy ending.

But, alas, you must read the books to discover if that happy ending ever comes.

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