Library Ban of 50 Shades of Grey is Almost as Stupid as 50 Shades of Grey

By now, you won’t have been able to escape 50 Shades of Grey, a book written by the middle-aged Twilight and S&M enthusiast, E.L. James. I am eternally grateful that my New York Times project dissolved before this book hit the list. While a part of me feels that I should read something that’s become so wildly popular, another has read the synopsis, backed away slowly and plowed through two Neil Gaiman books in the last week instead. Grey, meanwhile, has been sitting at the top for weeks, along with its two sequels, despite reportedly being one of the worst popular novels of all time, and especially despite being written by a woman whose only other writing credits prior to this were for — I shit you not — Twilight fanfiction.

For anyone who has been hiding under a rock, here’s the rough outline care of Amazon:

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

There have been a lot of jokes made at the book’s expense (for good reason, obviously), but it’s also being considered for big-screen adaptation, prolonging the reign of this up-jumped romance novel far longer than is necessary.

Yet perhaps the best bet at longevity is the decision on the part of several American libraries to ban the book. Because if history has shown us one thing, it’s that if you limit the public’s access to something on the grounds that it’s dangerous, you certainly don’t make it all the more desirable and fuel people’s desperation to get their hands on it.

As one outraged taxpayer argues, “If somebody writes something and I want to read it, and pay fees into a library, that’s my right … And when they tell me what our values should be, I feel like they’re treading on my rights.”

I know I’ve been in Canada for most of my life, so a part of me does feel like a snotty Canadian when I say this, but I do so treasure the bizarre relationship that the United States has with the first amendment. If someone writes a book entitled, “How to Trap Children in Your Van Using Candy,” I’m going to go right ahead and say that the public shouldn’t be able to access that. Somehow this country has the ability to both be outraged at a government organization telling them what they can or can’t say and what they can or can’t read, but at the same time wants to make sure that family values and honored above all and that women should have next to no ability to regulate their own bodies.

This got away from me pretty quickly. I guess my point is that censorship is a necessary beast, but when in doubt, let people decide for themselves and just keep taking those pedophile handbooks off the shelves instead.

So good work, American libraries. Not only are you potentially violating the First Amendment, you are clarifying for the rest of the world that you are incapable of learning a very simple, very repetitive lesson.

Just put an age limit on the book and then teenagers will just steal all of your copies and you won’t have to worry about banning it at all. Problem solved.

14 thoughts on “Library Ban of 50 Shades of Grey is Almost as Stupid as 50 Shades of Grey

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  5. What makes this book any different from the many A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) books like The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty’s punishment. It’s no holds barred erotica, in Rice’s novels, there is even plenty of gay sex and things that could definitely be categorized as bondage of sorts… So WHAT is the BFD with this book? It can’t be any worse than De Sade.

    • I think that what some people think the problem with this novel is that it started as Twilight Fan Faction, which is for a younger crowded. I do not condone banning books, I find it a horrible offense and I feel all information and knowledge should be free. On that note, I will not be reading this. I read the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series when I was 15, 16, and 17. They were somewhat cheesy and over the top, but far from a romance novel. I feel this novel will be romantic and the fact that a middle aged woman was that into Twilight makes me think that her writing can be no better than that Meyer woman. I have read some very erotic novels, there are many with BDSM, hard core BDSM. I feel this is probably lacking serious depth.

      I went off on a tangent, basically I was agreeing with you that it cannot be any worse than what you listed. In fact, it is probably mild in comparison. For them to want to make it into a film it has to be mild, because I see no one jumping on the Sleeping Beauty erotic train…

      • I think the real issue is people pretending that Twilight was read exclusively (or even mainly) by teenagers. SO many middle-aged women, as James herself proves, loved those books. Probably because the idea of a mysterious, handsome, dangerous man shaking up your life in enticing at any age. But either way, no matter how it started — and I’ve heard conflicting reports, including that James has also written fanfiction, but this was always its own project — it’s not Twilight, but it’s probably just as bad.

  6. Despite seeing this book everywhere, I’ve also been doing my best to avoid it (and perhaps jumping the gun with my animosity). I don’t really know where or how some of these books get published, but as an aspiring author I don’t know if I should be comforted by the fact that my mediocre writing may one day get a similar opportunity, or if I should just be ashamed on behalf of us all… I think the shame thing.

      • Because no one ever went broke underestimating the American public.

        But even saying that, which is obviously unfair even if it is true, I think that the worse things get economically, the more people are open to complete escapism.

        We are completely inundated with fantasy right now because reality kind of sucks.

    • Meh, I think there’s a market for everything, especially now with online publishing and allowing people to read or view your work without the help of a big publishing house.

      It’s so tempting to weep for books, but crappy melodramatic writing has always sold well — it just doesn’t get remembered.

  7. Banning it is the sure fire way to make it a must…regardless of how well it is/not written. I will be honest-I haven’t read it, and thanks to The Book Report’s show, won’t be anytime soon. The host, Elaine, spoke about it, and there was a narrated excerpt, where she did say the narrator had put many audio book users off…put me off the paper version too (if still in doubt, you can listen for yourself -bookreportradio(dot)com). Regardless of whether a review site gives the thumbs up or not, I find it to be a helpful tool for getting the basics, and from there am quite capable of knowing if I’ll like it or not.
    As for rights; they’ll never keep all the people happy all the time.

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