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Wendy Reviews Books: Now I Feel 50 Shades Of Awkward

Vintage Books

The newest book out there that has people buzzing is “50 Shades Of Grey” by E L Thomas, a book that actually started out as “Twilight” fan fiction, but morphed into something even stranger. Many refer to it simply as “mommy porn”.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into with “50 Shades” and so I sauntered into my favorite local book store and picked it up, thinking nothing of it. The man behind the counter raised an eyebrow at me, but said nothing, rang up my purchase and sent me on my merry way. He also informed me that as of Wednesday, the book had sold over 10 million copies.

So, I got home last night, settled in on the couch, and began reading. The book started out simple enough. A girl, Anastasia Steele, is in her last week of college, and has to fill in to interview a wealthy businessman, Christian Grey, because her roommate is too ill to do it. That’s the only simple part of this book. Or at least the only “innocent” part.

The book delves deep into sexual psyches, dominant/submissive relationships, and coming to terms with your sexuality when you’re with a man who seemingly eats, sleeps, and breathes sex.

I wasn’t prepared for it. And I’m glad that I decided to read it in the comforts of my own home as opposed to out in public. I know that any other woman who has read the book would be looking at me knowingly, wondering what part of the book I was at. Judging my facial expressions at every page turn.  Wondering what I was thinking.

I'm pretty sure I made this face a lot while reading "50 Shades".

The book isn’t good, per se. But, it does pull you into it. The dialog between Anastasia and Christian Grey is one that you would never encounter in a real-life setting. No one talks like that. Even if they’ve memorized the thesaurus, which is seems they would have to in order to know what some of the words even mean. No 22-year-old woman talks like that. And if she does, she doesn’t have any friends, because no one can understand what she’s saying.

And while this book is, I assume, far from a Harlequin romance novel, I couldn’t help but cringe every time they referred to Ana’s “sex”. That’s what she calls her vagina. Her “sex”. It sounds weird when you say it out loud in the context of the sentence, and kind of makes your inner 12-year-old giggle. Then again, I don’t know what other word could possibly have been used. I’m not the biggest fan of any of the slang terms for the vagina, either. And to just say “vagina” is a bit too clinical for this type of book.

Also noted by many, is the overuse of several different words and phrases throughout the book. One reviewer on Amazon actually used the search function on her Kindle to figure some of them out:

I have discovered that Ana says “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. She “blushes” or “flushes” 125 times, including 13 that are “scarlet,” 6 that are “crimson,” and one that is “stars and stripes red.” (I can’t even imagine.) Ana “peeks up” at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian’s “hooded eyes” and 7 to his “long index finger.” Christian’s “mouth presses into a hard line” 10 times. Characters “murmur” 199 times and “whisper” 195 times (doesn’t anyone just talk?), “clamber” on/in/out of things 21 times, and “smirk” 34 times. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 “grins” and 124 “frowns”… which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences “intense,” “body-shattering,” “delicious,” “violent,” “all-consuming,” “turbulent,” “agonizing” and “exhausting” orgasms on just about every page.

The book series, as a whole, has received a lot of flack online from people saying that it sets the women’s movement back decades with it’s portrayal of a woman being completely subservient to a man in a relationship. I don’t know that that is necessarily the case. While Ana does do many things at the command of Christian Grey that would make many of us cringe, she is also shown challenging and questioning him throughout the book. Putting her foot down, and setting her own rules when she sees fit.

Preconceived notions, uncomfortableness, and odd dialog aside, I couldn’t put the book down. Trust me, I tried. I sat down to read at 10pm, thinking I’d get a few chapters in and then drift off to sleep. But no, I was awake until 2am. I finished the book. And now, I can’t decide if I need to go out and pick up the other two.

So yes ladies, Wendy Reed read “mommy porn”… but so did you.

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