Despite the controversy and criticism, 50 Shades of Grey has broken records by selling over 20 million copies. 50 Shades of Grey and 50 Shades Darker have remained on the best seller list for 16 consecutive weeks with no sign of disappearing. The book is the first novel to sell more than 1 million copies on the Amazon Kindle. The book has sparked media attention and uproar because of it's erotic language and sexual exploits. Usatoday.com reported that women can’t put it down because they crave love. Everyone loves a good love story and the book resonates with many women. Believing in love is what gets us through our day to day. For those who have not found true love, books like 50 Shades help solidify hope.
So we’ve asked average women, of all ages, who’ve read the record breaking book…why? Our panelists’ names and ages are listed below. Here’s what they had to say:
Why did the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy appeal to you?
Susan (52): I enjoyed the rapport between Anastasia and Christian and watching their relationship evolve.
Shelly (41): I heard it was a really good book…so I had to check it out.
Rachel (25): The buzz surrounding the trilogy and the author intrigued me. And I am always eager to get lost in a good book.
Sharon (33): Honestly, there was so much media hype and controversy around the book that I wanted to check it out for myself to see what all the fuss was about.
Nicole (41): Everyone was talking about it. My co-worker who is an avid reader and has suggested many, many books to me which I have thoroughly enjoyed loaded them on my Nook.
Did you go on to read the entire trilogy?
All of the women on our panel have or are in the process of reading the entire trilogy.
What did you take from the book?
Rachel (25): In some ways, this book makes me feel normal. I sometimes wish my partner could be more like Christian Grey; proud, doting, honest and rich. As a woman, I resonate with Ana Steele and I can feel her pain and joy when dealing with the love of her life. And while Christian and Ana’s specific “situations” are rather unique, the story and journey of love and life come down to one specific task: compromise.
Michelle (32): How to overcome insecurities.
Nicole (41): All relationships are built on trust. If we can learn to trust the ones we love, we can make them work. Also that there truly is someone out there for everyone
Sharon (33): At its core, the story is a great romance story – and who doesn’t love a romance? The story also left me with a reminder not to always be afraid of the unknown.
Do you believe that E L James is an inspiration to other women authors?
Michelle (32): Yes.
Rachel (25): Personally I would not necessarily describe her as inspirational. I think her bold delivery, character development and honest writing makes her a force to be reckoned with in the literature world.
Shelly (41): I think anyone that writes something that’s “taboo” is inspiring, too many people worry too much about what society thinks is right or wrong.
Sharon (33): I do. I think she’s demonstrated to others that you don’t always need to “follow the rules” and it’s okay to shake things up a bit.
Aside from the obvious MA rating, what makes 50 Shades of Grey different from other romance novels?
Michelle (32): It’s very raw and to the point. Not only in respect to the MA rating but follows along with how women really think and react to things; both by what we think to ourselves and then how one would deal and react to something in real life.
Nicole (41): Not too sappy. This was not predictable and I love that. I loved the other elements that she added. I loved the danger and the mystery. I always wanted to keep reading. I love the way it ended. It did not leave me wondering what happened to the couple.
Rachel (25): Having never read other romance novels I do not have much to compare it to. I both love and hate the characters. I have never encountered that in a novel before; usually I either love or hate a character but E L James makes me feel both.
Sharon (33): To be honest I haven’t read many true “romance” novels so I’m not sure how this book compares.
Shelly (41): I’m not sure what makes it different because this is my kind of book, you can’t have romance without sex.
There is a lot of controversy about the book. Many are calling it “offensive,” “pornographic,” “crap”, not “real” material – what do you have to say about that?
Rachel (25): If someone is offended by this book or wants to immediately attack it, perhaps they are not being honest with themselves. The book is a work of fiction. Read it for fun as you would a Jodi Picoult novel or a Nicholas Sparks novel. If you don’t like it, put it down and move on to the next; no harm no foul. And, if you were to read the entire book series and never think to yourself, man I wish that were me (male or female) I would question your truthfulness.
Nicole (41): It’s their opinion. If you don’t like it, don’t read it! I was not the least bit offended by any of the content and it was very real. He is messed up. She helps him get past his issues without him having to change who he is.
Susan (52): I personally didn’t find it offensive but educational; however I understand how it would be to other women of different generations, backgrounds etc…
Shelly (41): Real material or not, it’s a great book and I can’t put it down. Isn’t that what every author wants?
Sharon (33): Everyone is entitled to their own opinion though I can say that in my opinion, this series is far from “offensive” or “crap.” If reading a romance novel that includes sex bothers you my advice would be not to read the 50 Shades trilogy. Children hunting and killing other children bothers me, so after reading the first Hunger Games novel I decided not to continue reading the remaining books in the series. Does this make the Hunger Games series or movies with violence “crap” or “offensive”? Of course not – I just don’t enjoy them.
“You wanted hearts and flowers,” he murmurs.
I blink at him, not quite believing what I’m seeing.
“You have my heart.” And he waves toward the room.
“And here are the flowers,” I whisper, completing his sentence. “Christian, it’s lovely.”
“Anastasia Steele. I love you. I want to love, cherish, and protect you for the rest of my life. Be mine. Always, Share my life with me. Marry me.” – E L James 50 Shades Darker
Everyone loves a happy ending. 50 Shades of Grey presses the envelope and pushes the limits of acceptability. But isn’t that what love is about? Finding someone to spend the rest of your life with? Someone that makes you feel complete? Based on the opinions of our panelists, this is why women all over the world can’t put their books down because they all believe in love.