Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Crimson

I have a confession.

I honestly feel like I might be the only living female who hasn't read the Fifty Shades trilogy. (Except for my mom. Please, mom, don't say you've read it...)

I wasn't going to do it. I start books and feel like I have to finish them. No matter how badly characterized or created, I always wonder what happened to the characters. I am sometimes (OK, frequently) guilty of starting sentences with "I have this friend who..." only to taper off and realize that "friend" is actually a fictional character in a book I just finished. Nerd problems, I guess.

I had heard Fifty Shades was a series of absolutely terrible writing. Who wants to immerse themselves in terrible writing? Well, besides the gazillion Twilight readers. (I read the first two, so feel that I can say that with no fear of perhaps being mistaken.)

But, there Fifty Shades was on my Kindle because Cyndi, my best friend in the whole wide world and Kindle account sharer, had purchased it out of curiosity a while back. (For the record, she couldn't get past the writing either; she never finished it.)

I started reading it last night. I haven't gotten to the dirty bits, but I do have to agree with those critics who have warned me against it. I'm not sure if I'll finish it or not. At this point I really don't care what happens to Anastasia. Or Gray. Neither one has made an impression on me despite steely gray eyes and those lips. Ugh.

Admittedly, though I have been trying to cast the characters. Right now Ian Somerhalder is in the running for Gray in my mind movie. I have Anne Hathaway as Anastasia, though I don't want to. She's in Les Mis right now for goodness sake. Why would she want to do this film? (Since it is being cast in my head I don't think it matters.)

So here I am contemplating if I should read it or move on to bigger and better things. Part of me wonders how so many readers can be wrong. All three of the books are on the New York Times' bestsellers list. The first book has been there for 37 weeks. Do you realize how long that is? There are only 52 weeks in a year, for Pete's sake. She's slowly creeping up on a year there. That should be reserved for good literature.

How is it that Louise Erdrich's National Book Award winning The Roundhouse isn't even on the NYT bestseller list? (If you've been paying attention to my little reading widget down on the right, you've noticed that it has been sitting in the "To Read" placeholder for a while. I'm ashamed that Fifty Shades pushed it aside in  my actual reading. I'm leaving the widget there; no one needs to be taken to Fifty Shades on Amazon with my help.)

I'm relieved that my copy of Fifty Shades is digital and I can hide that I'm reading it. In fact, I contemplated not confessing to anyone that I'm reading it. (That is why my title is "Fifty Shades of Crimson", though  I'm certain if I do decide to read on I'll have other valid reasons for this title.) The Kindle allows readers to read lovely prose or crap anonymously. When I see a Kindle reader I always assume they are reading something smart. That's the beauty of not having a cover to mar strangers' opinions of your tastes.(Oh, goodness, what if people see me holding my hot pink Kindle case and assume I'm reading erotica all the time. That thought had never crossed my mind.)

I digress...

 All of this "do I read, do I not read" thinking has really got me contemplating how we as a society spend our time. How is it that books like this and Twilight, TV shows like the Honey Boo Boo show (which I have not seen due to not having cable), Jerry Springer, etc. and music like the annoyingly catchy new Alicia Keys "This Girl is On Fire" are the big sellers? (All due respect to Alicia Keys. She's a good musician. She just needs to fire her lyricist for someone who can write something with a little more substance.)

Are we getting dumber as a society? Is that why these things are so, so, so successful? Or, are we a society of people who need to escape? Do these mindless books, TV shows and songs let us escape our own existence long enough to take a mind vacation? These are serious questions, dear readers. I really do worry that we are getting dumber. I like to think that bad media in general is escapism at its finest, but what if it isn't?

Am I just a snob? Am I the only one who worries about these things?

What is your mindless pleasure? Is it escapism for you? Did I successsfully plant "This Girl is On Fire" in your head? (You're welcome. I've had it in my head for days.)


  1. i saw a girl reading 50 shades at the pool last summer and my first thought was to admire the fact that she could put it out there without hiding behind a kindle. One of the great things about the kindle is that it's no one's business but you're own what you're reading - no shame in the sappy romance novel but no flaunting some thick academic tome for show, either. For the record, there are at least two of us who haven't read 50 shades (hopefully three, counting your mom!) but then again, I think i'm a literary freak, since I've also skipped Harry Potter and Twilight. There's a copy of the Hunger Games on my kindle that I picked up for a buck but haven't touched that yet, either.

    1. I'm encouraged by the number of people who have commented on my Facebook page saying they have not yet (nor plan to) read 50 Shades. As for HP and Hunger Games, I highly recommend both. I think Harry Potter is complex, rich, well written and entertaining. I also love that it has moved a generation to read (maybe only those seven books, but hey, it's a start...). Hunger Games is also a good series. They are both young adult, so you have to keep that in mind!

  2. I didn't finish it and I am not thrilled that I can't forget the part I did read. Just B-A-D. As far as your deep questions at the end, I think people tend to disregard the truth that what you see and hear influences your heart and mind, and where you spend your time really does show what your priorities are. So you should add to your list, What would you have been doing if you hadn't turned on Honey Boo Boo? AND, if you're a parent and you let that stuff into your own life, your kids are watching you and forming their own ideas of good choices. Ugh. Unplug and pursue your passions, that's what I say!


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