Fifty Shades of ‘Oh I Say’…

I can’t not talk about it any longer, I have to finally admit defeat to what seems to have become the literary sensation of the last decade, let alone the last week or month, which is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Everyone is talking about it (by the sales week on week it seems they are also all buying it) and when I say everyone I mean everyone. Get ready for a little, and rather funny, Fifty Shades story that happened the other day…

On Sunday The Beard’s Mum and Dad, who are in their late sixties, took us both out for dinner as part of The Beards birthday week treat (he was 41 on Wednesday, send belated wishes, he’d love it) and what a lovely dinner it was. Between mains and dessert The Beard and his Dad left the table. His Mum and I were chatting when she suddenly leaned over and said ‘Si, I was wondering… You couldn’t get me a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey could you?’ I think it was one of the very few times my jaw has almost hit the floor and I have been speechless. We caught each others eye and both started laughing and I said ‘of course’ and more laughing ensued. It was at this point that The Beard and his Dad came back and asked what we were discussing, when they learnt what it was I thought The Beard was going to faint from a mixture of shock and awkwardness. I have to admit I was oddly touched his Mum felt that she could ask me, anyway…

Since then I haven’t stopped hearing about the book be it on Woman’s Hour (I feel no shame I listen to this as a male), my Aunty telling me all her friends (housewives in their forties) are reading it but she’s not and Gran said when I saw her on Thursday (she can move her left thumb, minor progress but promising) that the nurses are talking of nothing else. Ha!

Well today whilst supermarket shopping I saw this…


Well I went and caved in didn’t I?


Not for me though! I will be taking it as a gift tomorrow for The Beards mum when we go round for dinner (and to see how Oscar copes there as he will be visiting while we are in Italy, then I will get her the other two as a thank you for cat sitting, ha) as I know she nearly bought it at another supermarket the other day ‘but too many people were watching’.

I am pondering if I should read it. I’ve been a little snobby about it, and in hysterics reading it aloud to The Beard in the kitchen just now (he’s even more horrified I’m giving the book to his mum after those extracts) but can I judge it and roll my eyes (or give people a dirty look when seeing them buying it) without having read it myself? What do you think?

I also wondered about your thoughts, be they good bad or indifferent, to the whole Fifty Shades debate! Have any of you read it… Dare you admit it? Do tell…


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

40 responses to “Fifty Shades of ‘Oh I Say’…

  1. Kristen M.

    I don’t think that you have to read something first to be able to roll your eyes at its readers when there is enough information out there to paint a decent picture of what it is all about. That said, there are those times that you just have to pick it up anyway, right? (I won’t be picking up this one though!)

  2. Ceri Kay

    I think this is happening everywhere, my husband says almost every woman on the train yesterday was reading it plus my husband’s Mum declared herself a fan on Wednesday, she has obtained this recommendation through my sister in law and is avidly waiting the second instalment! She asked whether I had read it or whether I would be reading it. I have to admit I sidestepped the question. I won’t be paying to read this (or borrowing it from anyone!)…

  3. Sarah Cubitt

    I admit it! I’m 2/3 through the first book…bye bye credibility! Love the funny anecdote. The writing is awful, and she uses the same phrases over & over, which gets really irritating. However, I have a total book crush on Grey (so far – I don’t know what he’s going to unleash later!!). I also don’t like to think of myself as a book snob, and like you, felt I had to see what all the hype was about. Think I’ll need a break before the rest of the series though. I thought the conversation on woman’s hour was interesting.

  4. Jo

    I have read it and recently reviewed it on my blog

    Should we judge when we haven’t read it probably not, and if it was not my book clubs choice then I am not sure when I would have given in and read it.

    Mind you it has boosted libraries which is a good thing, and hopefully more people will read other books.

    But it is causing some problems

    To be honest, I recommend following @50ShedsofGrey on twitter they make me howl laughing and kind of sum up the phenomenon perhaps?

    • I have to agree on the great things it is doing for books and reading and I wouldn’t want to take anything away from it for that as that is all really really positive. I have given it a whirl, I am clearly not the market the book is aimed at.

  5. Louise

    I have read this trilogy, the first one I read on kindle months ago. It is meant to be Twilight fan fiction (i’ve read that saga) and I couldn’t see the comparisons. The first book does repeat itself a little, the second book is a whole load better. They must be doing something right to be on the NY Times bestseller list and for M&S to be out of silver ties (kiding)

    Since reading them I have read several other novels in this genre, Bared to You being one, and it was actually quite good, the writing was good, there was story to the book…it wasn’t just a load of sex. I’m no prude, well that’s now obvious lol! but everyone has sex, and just like people having different tastes in books, the same applies with sex..some people are into bdsm and they shouldn’t feel embarassed about that and neither should people who want to read such fiction. I don’t see any difference between reading this type of book and watching some film with a heavy sex scene. Men have their magazines full of naked women in a variety of positions, where is the difference?

    In Hotel Iris, we have some young girl, with some awful smelly old man and he’s doing all sorts to the girl. I don’t think she agreed to let him do the things he did to her first time round, there was no communication during that sex, and at times it came across more like rape than two couples engaging in bdsm. Is there a difference between this and Fifty Shades? Is Fifty considered dirty because its not ‘literary’ enough?

    I think people know if they aren’t going to stomach that type of erotica (just how some people can’t handle some crime books) then they aren’t going to read it, which is fair enough… but people shouldn’t bash the books just because it’s that genre.

    • I just really wish that when everyone is talking about this book they would then direct its fans towards Anais Nin or Henry Miller, that is the thing that is getting to me at the moment. People are acting like its a new thing and its not, but also I just wish they would try the older and better written stuff. And I can say that now that I have tried it.

  6. I have a funny story re: this book. I bought it from Book Dep when it was very first released b/c a review I read sounded good. I ordered it, paid for it and received it. B/w the time of ordering and receiving I read another few reviews and thought, Oh darn, this is not going to be a good book. I received it. I read the first couple of chapters and then I just could not stand it any more. I flipped ahead, wanted to see how good the “good” parts were and found myself drifting off to yawning. I was cross with myself for having wasted the money as I could have bought something else, like Penguins. So I put it up on eBay and it was like a feeding frenzy although there are a gazillion copies up there already. I am happy to say it has moved out of my house, to a most excited young adult who just can’t wait to read it. I got my full amt of money back and everyone is happy. I think I’ll stick to something that’s a bit better written as the content is just way too boring to make up for the atrocious writing.

  7. I’ve read this too – okay, but I’m not bothered about reading the rest of the series. I read Hotel Iris straight after this one and the comparisons are very interesting, like Louise writes.
    A lot of my workmates are currently reading this, but I’ve lost my cred as I haven’t read The Hunger Games (and don’t intend to!)
    Anything that gets people to read is okay in my book.

    • You see, and I should have mentioned this below Louise’s comment, I read Hotel Iris and the sexual thing was part of the book but I didn’t ficus on it because it was so well written and there was so much else to it. The only thing discussable with this book seems to be the sex.

  8. Brilliant post! It is a truly awful awful book!! I had no willpower, so I caved in and bought it. I wrote a rather tongue-in-cheek, no holds barred review which seems to have made quite a few people laugh

  9. I think you know your own reading preferences well enough to know whether this is for you or not, the reason you would read it might curiosity about what appeals to the mob – just like Caesar and the gladiators.

  10. I’m not going to judge people for reading it but I dislike the fact that people assume something about you if you decide not to read it. I’ve seen extracts and had the opinions if people with sensible heads and I don’t want to read it along with many other books in the world. I haven’t read a whole Dan Brown either. Really fed up of the whole judgmental attitude this book has caused. I read Black Lace at school, it’s 15 years too late for me to giggle over.

    Though some girls made me laugh in Tesco the other day, one was shrieking about it and said “this is the best book I’ve ever read” friend replied”did you learn to read yesterday?”

    • Louise

      I think you’re judged a lot more if you read it…. although this book has opened up how people talk about sex etc in general… I’ve been on some social sites and a few blogs and people are talking about sex in a much broader way, these books have opened people up and I think that’s a good thing.

      It does seem though that this series has become the new ‘Forever’ by Judy Blume for some younger readers,and if it makes them want to read, then that’s a great thing, and they should not be judged on their opinion…

    • Oh no I wouldn’t judge anyone for reading it because at least they are reading after all. It is selling a huge amount and that is great for the industry, I just wish it was a little better written.

      I should admit here that I have read a Mills and Boon in my time.

  11. Janette

    I downloaded this in ignorance a while ago before the hype whilst browsing kindle’s bestsellers and the review mentioned “twilight” and a dark secret – I kept reading as was convinced at some point his vamipiric tendancies would be revealed – took until half way through to realise all the sex scenes were not about drawing blood at all and I had dipped into a different genre all together!! doh! I got a bit bored after that …..

  12. gaskella

    I have no desire to read this book, but neither would I throw it out without a quick skim should a copy wend my way, but I won’t be paying money for it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Riders by Jilly Cooper earlier this year, although that’s much tamer I expect, and I have read the original Belle du Jour book (for book group!) which was educational, so I can imagine 50 Shades a bit. If it gets people reading though, it can’t be all bad, can it?

  13. Looking down on people for buying bad books is fine because you know they’re just following the hype. But if you want to enter the debate on a book, you do need to read it – otherwise how are going to know what you’re talking about? I haven’t read 50 Shades so I know little about it – all I know is it’s reported to be badly written mainstream erotica. The mainstream erotica part is fantastic – it’s definitely opened up the way women talk about sex and the way we see female sexuality – although sometimes I wonder if people know what they’re implying when they post a facebook update about spending an early night with 50 Shades (if they want to tell the world that they’re probably masturbating, good for them, but it’s not the sort of thing most people would come out and say. Even men, who are generally much more open about it because male masturbation isn’t news to anyone, wouldn’t publicise it on the internet.) But basically it’s great that it’s enabled women to admit to having sex drives – which is pretty much what you’re saying when you let people know you’re reading it. The reason I haven’t read it is because that’s not what I read books for. That doesn’t mean I’m not comfortable talking about sexuality or admitting that I masturbate because I’ll talk about these things anyway.

    • I agree about needing to have read it before you can debate on it, and so I have tried it (I couldn’t finish it) just for that reason. I have no issue with people buying it in their droves as its good for the book market, I just wish they were then going onto better erotica rather than some of the bonkbusters that are being re-released.

      I agree on the fact its opened up discussion certainly on sex, that is never a bad thing… well unless it goes too far!

  14. You’ve got it, why not read it? I am getting very annoyed with the whole 50 Shades thing, not because of the people who are loving it but rather those who are sneering at people for enjoying a book. No one should ever feel embarrassed to read whatever they like, and seriously, what the hell is wrong with people that they feel the need to mock or insult others for their reading material? People are reading, and enjoying reading. That’s all that matters.

    • Amen! I find that incredibly annoying as well. People should know better than to judge people for the books they enjoy. Attitudes like those of a couple of posters above, who reserve the right to sneer at people for reading certain books (even if they themselves haven’t read the book in question) make me really angry. By all means, trash the book once you’ve read it, if you thought it was bad, but don’t make assumptions about the readers. I know people who’ve enjoyed 50 shades and who are also extremely well read and like what’s generally considered “good” books, too.

      • I am certainly not judging people who are reading it. I wouldn’t have bought it for The Beards mother if I was anti it. Plus, I am a big fan of Agatha Raisin so who would I be to be a snob?

    • I did try it Gail and it just wasn’t for me, though it did provide me with a good laugh. I am glad people are enjoying it and reading it, its good for books and the debate its causing is adding to that I think.

  15. I’m reading it for my book club, which is about evenly split male/female, so it should be an interesting discussion! So far I’m not liking it at all. I have been stuck about 10% in for about a week, as every time I pick it up I want to strangle the heroine. Seriously, every time she stumbles or goes “Holy crap!”, which is basically every couple of paragraphs. But a few of my friends who’ve read it already have told me it was a really quick read for them (even the ones who didn’t like it), so I’m hoping it’ll pick up.

    (BTW, Simon, we’re meeting in central Liverpool on the 25th, you’re welcome to join us if you do decide to read it and want to talk about it.)

    • Rosario I wish I had seen this earlier as I would have loved to have come to the meeting. Alas I was away actually so that didn’t work, but I am looking for a Liverpool book group, hint hint hahaha.

  16. Noooo! I read three pages and the writing was so, so, SO bad it was unreadable. I have no issue with erotica, but if people are going to read it, why read something that’s so badly written? It was just painful.

  17. Mimannee

    I read it for my book group a month or so ago, and would not have done otherwise. Quite glad I read it because it seems that it’s going to be a book that’ll be spoken about for a while. However we all agreed that it was awful!
    I found the first few pages quite boring, but once I got past that I was intrigued, but only for the naughty bits.
    No desires whatsoever for Mr Grey – he’s an annoying man who thinks that throwing money at problems will solve them! And don’t get me started on her ‘inner godess’….!

    • I am slightly worried how many women seem to be falling for a man who is really a naughty sadist, a bit scary really. I won’t open up the ‘feminism’ can of worms though!

  18. I tried to read it but I found it boring – it’s poorly written, I ended up just skipping to the naughty bits. I’ve still not finished it. I’ve no problem with a ‘dirty’ book being popular, nothing to be ashamed of; my issues lie in the depiction of women and the poor prose.

    I say give it a go, where’s the harm.

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