It started as a whisper … “do you have THAT book?” Then the phones starting ringing…
“I forget what it’s called – something Grey?”
Once That Book hit the shelves the word quickly spread – Fifty Shades of Grey is here!! Bigger than Harry Potter, hotter than Twilight, “Fifty Shades” is being read in planes, on trains, in cars and at bars. You cannot escape it. But what is it and should you read it?
First, a little background. Have you read Twilight? Take away the vampires and add lots of, ahem, adult scenes and that is the basis for Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s true – the best-selling book of the year started off as a piece of fan-fiction in Australia.
Fan-fiction is when a writer takes an established character and writes an original story involving that character. If I wrote a story called Scarlett O’Hara Saves the Day in which she prevents a meteor from smashing into Earth – that would be fan-fiction. British author EL James wrote Master of the Universe as Twilight fan-fiction – Edward and Bella in an adult relationship. As it grew in popularity she reworked it, changed the names to Christian and Anastasia and turned it into more of an original story. And “Fifty Shades” was born.
It was picked up by a small publisher in Australia who released the first in the series – Fifty Shades of Grey- as an e-book and a print-on-demand paperback in May of 2011. The second book- Fifty Shades Darker – followed in September and the third and final book- Fifty Shades Freed- this past January. By March, word of mouth had made the trilogy go positively viral. Everyone wanted these books – even if they didn’t know why – and Random House in the United States released it in paperback and e-book format. Universal recently bought the movie rights so we can look forward to seeing Christian and Ana on the silver screen.
If the most popular question is “Do you have it?” the second is “Have you read it?” Yes I have. Strictly for professional reasons (of course). Is it great literature to be taught along with Jane Austen and John Steinbeck? Absolutely not. Should you read it? Definitely – if you are looking for the ultimate guilty pleasure, a few hours just for yourself, total escapist fiction. It is not for the faint of heart as it is rather risqué but think of it as eating an entire bag of potato chips – utterly addictive, tasty if not really filling.
So now you’ve read it, what’s next? You can go retro with a good juicy Jackie Collins. If you prefer something more contemporary Bared to You by Sylvia Day is a must-read. Looking to keep the heat going? One word – Zane. Or three – Eric Jerome Dickey. For a little less sizzle but still a satisfying read head to Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts and Nicholas Sparks.
Whether you like your fiction as spicy as jerk chicken or as cool as a Mojito, nothing beats a good book.