Hello book worms,
As you all know 50 Shades of Grey is a best seller and sold 40 million copies world wide. The critics never liked the book based on the reviews.
The critics were never wrong for me, I trust them in my book and movie selection. I believe there is an X-factor which made this book such a big success. Is it the word of mouth, crazy marketing or is the book really that good?
I think the "X-Factor" here is people's fascination with BDSM.
Although the book is far from an accurate portrayal of such a relationship, it manages to shed some light on the potential appeal. Of course there's no real-life Christian Grey to match the dream, and Anastasia is too much of a blank slate to believably reflect anyone of her age and experience, but that doesn't matter because the attraction is in the forbidden nature of the relationship more than in the characters themselves or their story.
That she's a blank slate also allows female readers to put themselves into her role. Never mind the fact that most of them were never 21-year-old virgins, because it's beside the point. Even in "vanilla" relationships, playing with power exchange is a powerful aphrodisiac. Most men enjoy playing at dominance in the bedroom, and most women at least occasionally enjoy the sense of being overpowered by a physically dominant male. That it's usually play doesn't matter - it speaks to something in our animal nature, even if only on a purely physical level, the body responds.
It's rare that a book on the subject is published that achieves mainstream acceptance. Most of what's out there is either pure porn that your average person would be embarrassed to purchase or be seen reading, or it's clinical academia, couched in language that leaves most people cold.
While not great literature, this book is at least accessible, and its popularity serves to remove much of the stigma that would otherwise attach to it.
The critics are usually right about the literary merits of a book, but what they most often miss is when a book taps into an under-expressed current in popular culture that the public is ready to latch onto. When a book is published that's timely in that sense, its popularity can far outstrip the expectations critics may have based on quality.
Paradoxically, I think the male dominant BDSM/power exchange meme is one that's been stronger since the rise of feminism. When male dominance was a more universally accepted aspect of our culture, it didn't have the forbidden appeal and resulting power to excite that it does today. For human beings, the mind is the only erogenous zone.
LOL this was fun!
I agree with your comments, and one more thing I realized is that popularity and good quality have noting to do with each other... I.e twilight, Michael Bay movies, Lady Gaga, Burger King, etc. 50 shades of crap goes right in there.I did not read the book and I will not, but I guess its easily written like a comic novel. Its meant to entertain, not solve world peace. Clearly more people have been entertained by it which is why it became a bestseller and now possibly a movie with Meagan Fox!
Thanks by the way, that was well dissected theory!
I completely agree with what Darryl so eloquently expressed. The quality of the book has nothing to do with its popularity. It was just a timely answer to a question that has apparently been buring in the minds of suburban housewives and business women everywhere. Who doesn't want to be dominated by a good-looking millionaire from time to time? I, myself, tend to read reviews after I've watched or read something, just to see if other people agree. A review, after all, is just someone's opinion, influenced by taste, religious beliefs, mood, weather, the demeanor of their partner at the moment they write it, or the alignment of the stars and moon. I like to decide for myself.
Books like 50 Shades and The Valley of the Dolls are what lots of people want. Just look at what they watch on TV. Taboo, all sorts of crazies; get weird enough and you've got an audience. Some even believe TV commercials.
HEY! DON'T GO THERE!
Valley of the Dolls was ART!
I recently had a guest blogger write a post of "50 Shades". (I made him read it because I didn't want to read it myself!) Here is the link to his very entertaining responses to my questions about it. Spoiler alert: he didn't really like it:)
I heard an interview with EL James on the radio. She said that women were writing her and telling her: "I haven't read a book in twenty years, but I'm reading your books!"
She's tapped into an undiscovered market: she's selling books to non-readers. Whether it's luck, or genius, I don't know.
Good insight! Its combination of many things to get success like that.
I personally wouldn't read this book if it was the only book in the house but that is my opinion. :) I also never trust what book critics or movie critics say because I usually don't like what they do like and like what they don't (except I agree with them on this one..lol)
I agree with Stormi A friend loaned me this book and I read part of it and then gave it bak. Im so glad I didnt spend the money for it. The ritis have it right this time.