Thursday, August 2, 2012

Not a Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

I can't review this book because I didn't read it. I heard about it, read some hilarious bad reviews and some less convincing (but even more numerous) good ones, skimmed through it in a book store and found nothing in it that appealed to me.

End of.

What drives me crazy is the number of readers who did the same thing, found nothing personally appealing about the book, but BOUGHT IT ANYWAY. Why? I hear two main reasons:

"To see what the fuss is about" which translates, as far as I can tell, into peer pressure. Wanting to fit in with the rest of the crowd.

To write a review about how bad this book is and to write it with the authority of someone who read it cover to cover.

Blech. I don't know which of these appeals to me less- the idea of being a sheep or being an arrogant know-it-all. (Although some of the hater reviews really are funny, like this one from The Guardian, suggesting the real appeal of this book isn't the sex but the hero's frequent demand that the heroine EAT- confronting what is a much more titillating taboo in this day and age than sex is.)

People are so eager to convince others that this book is good or bad. I'd suggest neither is provable because it is completely relative. It isn't about whether it's good or bad - it's about whether it's to your taste. I have never read (or watched) Harry Potter or Twilight and I have no desire to convince you that they're crap. Are you a fan? Cool. I didn't find them appealing so I spent my time reading other stuff. Was my stuff better? Impossible to say. But it was more to my taste.

The good vs bad argument is not worth having. Plenty of people liked this book. Just check out the THOUSANDS of reviews, mostly positive, on Goodreads.

Is something good if enough people agree that it's good? If a publisher gets behind it with an intense marketing plan? If it receives critical acclaim?

I tend to think it's more personal than that. It's good if you liked it.

And if you don't like it, don't read it! Simple. And for heaven's sake, don't buy it! There are so many amazing books out there. Never suffer through hundreds of pages to prove something you knew when you skimmed it in the book in the store. Instead, spend your hard earned money on something you might actually enjoy.

Consider one of these:
A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I reviewed here.
The Bluest Eye or The Poisonwood Bible, my all-time favorite books.
Monsoon Season, my own humble offering.


  1. Yes, it has to be the pancakes in syrup! Absolutely the sexiest thing a man could say - "More pancakes!"

  2. Here, here.
    I am also one who will NOT be buying or reading it, but half my friends are driving me crazy with their 'oh, I didn't want to read it, but bought it anyway'. And then went on to secretly buy the next 2 installments.