Sex sells and, with over 20 million copies of the latest “print erotica” sold, it appears that people have no reservation buying into it.
For the third month in a row, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey topped USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list for June.
With Facebook buzzing about the graphically-detailed story, talk of a Fifty Shades of Grey baby boom and hype building around the idea of a feature film, it’s safe to say many have gone crazy over the main characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.
The book, described as a love story by some, and a poor effort at story line and character development by others, has certainly become the popular kid in the paperback world, with much help from its siblings, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
In the book, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, or Ana, develop a complicated relationship surrounding Christian’s need for dominance in the bedroom, a story line that has certainly mortified plenty of brothers, fathers, daughters and mothers.
“I thought of of it more like my mom reading a love story instead of her reading porn,” said Lauren Lakin, a recent elementary education graduate of Missouri State University.
Lakin, who finished the first book in the trilogy in three days, said she has always shared books with her family members, including those by family, relationships and love author, Jodi Picoult. Despite sharing reservations because of its explicit nature, Lakin decided to hand the book over to her two older sisters and mom, who all ended up enjoying the series.
“It’s just a different kind of love story,” Lakin said. “I’ve never even had the urge to read something like that, but as the book goes on it turns into more of one — he cares about her so much and is so overprotective — so I think that’s why girls like it so much.”
As for sharing the über-sexual book with her mom, Lakin said it wasn’t so much awkwardness that made the experience different for her but, ironically, her mother’s protective nature.
“When she first started reading it she liked it enough to keep reading it, but was worried if young girls read the book, they would start thinking ‘Oh, this is what relationships are about.’”
Mallory Peterson who just received her bachelor’s in business administration also discussed Fifty Shades of Grey with her mom. But the family members also shared something completely different from Lakin’s experience: a dislike for the books.
“I didn’t like the books because they were very repetitive and didn’t keep me interested,” Peterson said.
“It was not what I expected in the story line or level of character development,” the Iowa State University graduate said. “It was very bland and difficult to read. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. The sex scenes were not original either and the dialogue used during was just awkward.”
Nearly finished with the second book, Fifty Shades Darker, Peterson said she decided to stop reading because of repetition and an over-the-top inner monologue. At the same time, Peterson discovered her mom had finished the trilogy, so she had her tie up all of the loose ends for a sense of closure.
Despite reservations that she would be diving into “mom porn,” Ali Derassouyan, a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, decided to pick up the book as a summer read.
“I would describe the book as a more modern or contemporary version of a Harlequin novel,” the criminology major said. “It’s an addicting mix of desire, passion and a journey for understanding. It pushes the limits of everyday romance novels and encourages the reader to find love in ways you would least expect.”
While many may not understand the captivating nature of Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems most readers agree that the story was a quick read, a bit unexpected in its delivery and is definitely a new take on the traditional love story that has been highlighted in countless romance novels.
“Based on the books I have read in the past, this one is completely different — characters, plot, type of book, everything. I really have nothing to compare it to so it definitely sticks out as unique in my mind,” Derassouyan said.
As for the Fifty Shades of Grey baby boom, I suppose it’s all a waiting game. Maybe, as we hold our breath for the next several months, we can brush the dust bunnies off the water-colored romance novel covers our mother’s have shelved in the basement and compare the ever-evolving idea of love in print form.
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