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May 11, 2012 Readers Talk About 50 SHADES OF GREY

Posted by carol

In last week's newsletter, I asked readers to share their feedback on the Shades of Grey trilogy. Below are comments from fifteen readers who share very varying viewpoints . Most have included how they learned of the books, as well as their thoughts on the writing. All agreed to have their comments shared with just their first names. Thanks to all who wrote in; really fun to see what YOU had to say!


I couldn't resist all the hype and naughty innuendo, so I downloaded 50 SHADES OF GREY  yesterday. Do I think it’s great literature? No. Is it fun and interesting to read? Yes.

Christian Grey is a mysterious character that I want to know more about. To me, he's the most interesting character since Lisbeth Salander. While successful, smart, good looking and controlling with bizarre sexual interests, there glimpses of more. Just as you want write him off as a jerk and think Ana should run, fast, in the other direction, he does something so tender and sweet that the reader just can't resist wanting to know more about.

I do plan to finish this book, most likely today, and read the other books in this trilogy.



I started to read this book and got about 40 pages into it.  I had to put it down when I couldn't tell if I was reading a cheap Harlequin Romance or a romance magazine from the 1950s and ‘60s. I normally read suspense, courtroom, psychological, and just plain great current novels found reviewed in your newsletter and others. It's hard for me to think that the minds of the public have deteriorated so much that trash such as this becomes a bestseller. I'm not a prude, I enjoy the sexy scenes in movies and books and what I'm saying about this book has nothing to do with that --- this is just plain horrible writing. I'm certainly no author, so my writing would probably be as juvenile and unpolished as this, but then I'm not nor do I strive to be on any bestseller lists! Ugh! Really, really bad!



Yes, I found myself engrossed in the series just like the rest of the country has!  I read all 3 books one right after the other, finishing books two and three over last weekend.

I could not tear myself away from them. Contrary to the hype of the explicitly hot scenes there was a fantastic romantic story there! I wasn't going to put them down until I had read every word. The intensity surrounding the factors that shaped Grey's life and how he put them to work for him although leaving him a troubled soul and by the same right to then find that person to bring him out into the light is the ultimate in romantic fiction!!!  E L James's writing abilities just blew me away! :D  I was right in there between the pages with these characters. I have NO IDEA how she's going to top this!!

There is a component in the end that was totally genius, but I don't want to spoil it for you so I can't tell you what it is!  :)...I do hope you get a chance to read all 1500+ pages!! I will definitely set these aside to re-read again although it may take a while for my heart to calm down first!! WOW



I am happy to share my 50 SHADES OF GREY reading experience with you, as I think it's a bit different than most people's experience. Everyone who is reading the book now is doing so because of the buzz it's received and their own curiosity. I can upon the book in a different way than most people who are reading it now.

I am in a book group of very lovely women. We've meet every month for the last 13 years or so. We read, for the most part, very well-reviewed, highly-regarded books. We were in the middle of reading probably what I would consider the driest book ever, THE EMPORER OF MALADIES, the autobiography of cancer. None of us were enjoying it; I had already decided not to continue with the book even if the others were going to keep reading.

One of our members said, "Let's read 50 SHADES OF GREY. It's the exactly opposite of what we usually read, probably too far in the other direction, but I loved all 3 books!" So 50 SHADES OF GREY was agreed upon. I wasn't present at that book club meeting, so I had no idea what the book was about or what to expect. I had never even heard of it. I downloaded it on my Kindle and began to read.

I think my take on the book is very unbiased because I read it not having any idea what it was about at all!

I became engaged in the book right away. Clearly, it wasn't the type of book I was used to reading, but after the cancer book and with all my time-consuming work commitments, I was happy to be reading some lighter fare. I enjoyed the dance back and forth between Christian and Ana as they became closer and finally connected.

That first sex scene was so surprising to me!! I wasn't expecting it at all, and I had/have never read any book with that much graphic sex in in, never mind S&M! I emailed my friend who picked the book and wrote, "What the ----??? OMG, I'm so hot and bothered over here, Pam!!" I was imagining what the other women in my book group, some of whom are very conservative, were thinking!! It ended up being 50/50 between loving it and feeling lukewarm about it; the conservative ones liked it more than the more liberal group members. Go figure.

She said, "Keep reading! I loved these books - I read all three!" So I read all three. I can say the first book really did engage me, and when I finished it, I definitely was invested enough to want to know what happened next. By the third, I was kind of done being interested, and it tied up a bit too neatly for me.  I took the books for what they are - entertainment..

Was 50 SHADES OF GREY the best written book ever? Of course not. There was so much repetition, it was almost laughable. But I have to say I enjoyed the first and second books, more for the story than for the sex scenes. I still would have liked to have gone deeper into the character of Christian than the author did; Christian was such an interesting case --- a pretty unbelievable character as I don't know that anyone could be that smart, that good-looking, that good at sex, from such a bad background and still functioning and running a billion dollar company in his 20s. It was all so preposterous, but somehow enjoyable.

So as a reader of what I consider very fine books, (some my favorite books are BEACH MUSIC, THE BOOK THIEF, CUTTING FOR STONE, THE HISTORY OF LOVE), I liked 50 SHADES OF GREY a lot and would recommend that people read it!



Yes, I read them, and yes, they will be in my top 10 reads for the year (I usually read about 100 per year).

While reading I kept thinking about the fact that it felt a little like watching a train wreck... I just couldn't look away, or stop reading. The subject matter was a little too dark for my gentle tendencies, but there was just something about Christian that made me keep reading. I wanted to know why he was like he was and what motivated him. He is absolutely fascinating.

I am very much a character-driven reader. If I don't like the characters then I find it hard to stay interested in the book. E.L. James did a brilliant job of keeping things a mystery and giving us just enough information about Christian to keep us wanting more, without totally divulging his whole story.

It had the very basic theme of every good romance: boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. But the dark side of sex and the mystery of Christian made this a very memorable read.

Oh, and by the way, I can't believe you haven't read this yet!



I've read the first book in the trilogy and have no desire to read the rest. While it was interesting to see what the buzz was all about, I had a difficult time reading it. Reading the struggle that Ana had in regards to her feelings towards Christian was frustrating.

I also questioned how this is going to be made into a movie. It reminded me a lot of the porn that was very popular doing the ‘70s. Yes, I'm dating myself but if they include the sex scenes the only rating it will get is XXX. At least the movies that I seen in the ‘70s had some comedic relief which I don't see happening here.

Amazingly enough I was able to obtain a copy from my local library.  I wonder how they are going to keep it out of the hands of the younger patrons because this is definitely something they don't need to read.



I just this morning finished book number two. I'm a 51-year old married woman (second marriage for both my husband and I and we will soon celebrate 9 wonderful years).  My 24-year old daughter just finished book number three. She's single and hasn't had a serious relationship yet. We both fell in love with the books. The catch is that you start to develop feelings and caring for the characters. So ... coupled with very evocative erotica and characters you can care for, you find yourself tearing up or laughing out loud. That to me is the mark of a good book. I read everything from the classics to 50 SHADES OF GREY.When a book makes you feel something you want all your friends to read it. And added sparks to my already good marriage.



About this whole 50 SHADES OF GREY craze --- I’m quite taken aback by it. Granted, I haven’t read it yet, and I’m not sure that I want to, but with all of this buzz, I almost feel compelled to. I mean, my goodness, I even saw it at Costco just the other day! The writer has been getting a lot of press, and I even saw one of her interview clips online. (It was actually in the “news section”.)  She seems like a nice person, and taking it all in stride, albeit a bit uncomfortable being in the international spotlight. And no, I don’t think that I would attend one of her book-tour readings or anything like that, at least not for the Grey series.

But, who knows?  Perhaps I’ll change my mind after reading the book (or books).... although I doubt it.

It is an interesting phenomenon surrounding all of this, isn’t it?!

Well, that’s my two cents worth.



I am almost finished with the second book of the trilogy. Sorry that I missed the author's visit to Boston. I am enjoying the second book, but think book one is better, but have been told that book three is the best. Everyone seems to be reading it and even being discussed at book clubs around town. Not sure if we will do it, but, lots of fun to read, funny and keeps me up late at night. Find Ms. Ana had to be pretty dumb to fall for this handsome chap, but, that is what makes different women and keeps men happy.



I first heard about The Shades of Grey trilogy from the Today Show. My mother happened to be visiting that day and we were intrigued. We were headed on a shopping trip and stopped at a Barnes and Noble. We couldn't understand why they didn't have the book in stock and the clerk told us they couldn't order it.

Now we are really interested.  Once home, we went online and I downloaded it onto my Kindle. Once I read the first, I immediately downloaded the other two  I had a horrible cold at the time and had also taken two days of vacation from work. I spent most of those days reading the books. And yet, I felt uncomfortable about telling anyone what I was reading. I didn't want to admit that I was enjoying them so much.

I love a good love story once in a while (I mostly read thrillers and historical fiction) and certainly learned some things about sex that I had never heard of (but where would you?). I admitted to my husband what I had read and he thought that was great. Wanted to know what I had learned! :)  I shared with some friends of mine that I had read the books and they have now done so and loved them also.

My mother went home and went to her local independent bookstore. The owner said she had had a couple of women have her order the book but didn't want to use their real names! The owner ended up ordering 9 copies (in a town of 25,000 that probably doesn't have that many readers)!  My mother hasn't started the book yet so I don't know what she thinks of it. We always laughingly refer to the beginning of my love of reading as when I read THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. Books have certainly changed since then!

I really don't know how they will do a movie of the book and can't imagine them finding the right person to play Christian.  The only person who comes to mind to me would be Heath Ledger.  He had the sort of gorgeousness that I imagine for Christian --- someone like Ryan Gosling does not!  It will be interesting to see who they cast.



I have finished reading the first book, 50 SHADES OF GREY and am in the middle of the second, 50 SHADES DARKER.  I don't get what the hype is all about.  I have read sexier books from Nora Roberts etc.  I also think that it is poorly written.  But I guess to each their own.



I've read the first two books and have the third one waiting.  But I needed a break in between, so I'm reading LITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave right now. Honestly though, I don't know why the Shades books became such an incredible hit. I think they are poorly written and they are soft porn, which I guess tons of women were looking to read. Almost every woman I know is either reading the books now or have read them.

However, that being said, I AM reading them and they ARE a love story and who doesn't love a love story? And of course he's handsome and rich and generous and kind and what woman wouldn't love all that in a man. But he's also controlling and a bit of a stalker and has very dark tendencies. I think I enjoyed the second book more than the first because it had more of their story in it and you begin to understand why he is as dark as he is.



I am currently reading 50 SHADES OF GREY also because it is the book most talked about everywhere I go. The subject first came up at my church yoga classes. Then I took an all-girls Spring Break beach vacation and that was the buzz at the beach. Next thing, my husband and I are at our monthly dinner club and 50 SHADES OF GREY is our dinner discussion, because 20/20 had just aired a segment about the book the night before on TV. Since I am about half way through the book, my biggest question right now is, How did the author come up with all this information to base a book on?



I have not read these books, but my daughter Sarah has read them and tells me all the details. I feel this is enough for me. I did first hear of these books at the hair salon. Ladies of my age were discussing! These books remind me of when THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY came out and all the non-readers I know were buzzing. I read the book and thought ho-hum writing Before that there was JONATHAN LVINGSTON SEAGULL, and dare I age myself, CANDY???



It is loaded on my Nook. I have read the first few chapters. However, I can't bring myself to read it in public. I know everyone would be looking at me knowing what I was reading just by the look on my face.

It is in no way life changing. It is soft porn! It is something you read when you want to tickle those private areas! What could possibly be so life expanding about s and m and soft porn? Oh dear, I am older and more of a prude than I thought I was.

I'm in my early 60s and the buzz with this book reminds me of my first soft porn----a book called CANDY. I read it in the early ‘70s. It was passed around by my girlfriends and I and hidden from our parents. 50 SHADES OF GREY gives me those same wanting to hide the book, but wanting to read it feeling. 

I'm afraid it is one of those books I will read in its entirety someday, BUT right now I have sooooooooooooooooooo many other books I feel more compelled to read for their content, their beautiful writing, and books that are just more important to my life and well-being. 

I always have said fiction can change your life as much as any self-help book.  BUT now that you have told me people think the Fifty Shades trilogy is life changing, I will look around and visualize a lot of women with a lot of "strange toys" in their boudoirs.