Today in Embarrassing News, 50 Shades of Grey is Now Britain’s Bestselling Book of All Time

This past week, amidst the outpouring of national pride surrounding the London Olympics, Britain has harbored a dark, shameful secret: 50 Shades of Grey has just become their best-selling book of all time. It finally eclipsed each individual Harry Potter tome to snag the top spot and has just been named the biggest-selling book from in its 14-year-history.

As one Daily Mail commenter put it:

Rowling: an inspiration to a generation. James: an embarrassment to society.

– Matt, Northampton, 2/8/2012 6:40

Now before Americans start celebrating their intellectual and moral superiority to their British cousins, it should be noted that 50 Shades of Grey has been #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for close to six months so it won’t be long before we reach the same humiliating benchmark.

Also, just in case you’re still tempted to read it (and please, I beg of you, just don’t — it’s not even entertaining in an ironic way), here are the best context-free hilarious quotes I highlighted and never used in previous articles:

“I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me”

Damn me! Damn my full lips, rosy cheeks, sculpted brows, heart-shaped face and long, long lashes! I’m so terribly plain! (Plain is, like, old-timey British for ugly. I know this because I read super old British books like Wuthering Heights).

“To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library.”

I’m so wonderfully, wonderfully unique. Also, I went to a magical school wherein the campus library had comfortable chairs and no one listened to their death metal too loudly and it wasn’t mostly just filled with incredibly stressed-looking people clutching their heads, staring at textbooks and sighing loudly while erasing their notes furiously. My library was a place of grace and refinement.

“I sit down, fish the questions from my backpack, and go through them, inwardly cursing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography. I know nothing about the man I’m about to interview. He could be ninety or he could be thirty.”

First of all, if Christian Grey is the most breathtaking Adonis ever to step foot on the planet Earth, I think most people in the Northwest would know about him. But even if he wasn’t some kind of local celebrity, which the book then goes on to explain that he is, it’s called Google you baffling moron.

“Miss Kavanagh.” He extends a long-fingered hand to me once I’m upright.

I don’t know why, but when an author describes someone has having long fingers, I’m instantly grossed out.

“…I work on my essay on Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Damn, that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong century.”

I bet you anything that that’s her actual thesis.

“His tongue caresses my name…”

See: long-fingered hands.

“I am restless that night, tossing and turning, dreaming of smoky gray eyes, coveralls, long legs, long fingers, and dark, dark unexplored places.”

Enough with the long fingers. Also, coveralls? What the fuck? Take me, you rich, controlling farm hand!

“He likes soccer — European soccer especially”

Ah, yes, of course. As opposed to American soccer, where they wear pads and the ball is curiously lemon-shaped.

“Would you like to go?”

“To Paris” I squeak. This has thrown me — who wouldn’t want to go to Paris? “Of course,” I concede. “But it’s England that I’d really like to visit.”

He cocks his head to one side, running his index finger across his lower lip… oh my. “Because?”

I blink rapidly. Concentrate, Steele. “It’s the home of Shakespeare, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy. I’d like to see the places that inspired those people to write such wonderful books.”

First of all, on behalf of all actual English majors who took their studies seriously, fuck you. Second, what are you going to do? Stand in the middle of a moor and find a tree to smash your head against for the sake of posterity? Don’t act like you’re going to walk around the countryside, taking in the mystical air of England. You see one moor, you’ve seen ’em all. Go to London. See a show or something. Visit a museum. Get some actual culture in.

“I magic a smile on my face and stroll over to the laptop.”

What does that mean? I hate you.

“It’s Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.”

Sounds like a real barn-burner. I hope you don’t get all crazy and read a book written within the last century.

“[Kate’s] all tiny camisole, tight jeans, and high heels, hair piled high with tendrils hanging down softly around her face, her usual stunning self. Me, I’m more of a Converse and T-shirt kind of girl, but I’m wearing my most flattering jeans.”


This is probably only from the first quarter of the book, and I’m already done with this. I hope these have been good, because I honestly don’t have the strength to continue.

17 thoughts on “Today in Embarrassing News, 50 Shades of Grey is Now Britain’s Bestselling Book of All Time

  1. Pingback: Celebrations Are in Order: 50 Shades No Longer #1 on Amazon « Tea Leaves and Dog Ears

  2. Loved the snippets and your responses, especially the one about the moors. Having grown up very close to the Yorkshire moors, I can testify that they’re hauntingly beautiful… for five seconds, until you realise it’s grey and drizzling and the closest beacon of culture is the Wensleydale Cheese Factory which, I confess, I’ve been to twice.

    Akin to the long fingers, did you notice how James loves to mention how Grey’s pants ‘hang off his hips’ every five bloody minutes? It just made me think he should invest in some better pants.

    • Thanks! And I really meant no disrespect to the beautiful English countryside (which was plenty beautiful!) but I always laugh when I hear people talk about it as though it’s a mystical dreamworld of magic where you can feel the very essences of Cathy and Heathcliff stumbling around, etc.

      I would go to a cheese factory every day, though, if I could.

      One of my other posts attacks the hip-hanging thing. It drove me nuts. Is this guy wearing MC Hammer pants?

      • I’m with you on the countryside thing, it’s no more mystical or magical than any other place really.

        The cheese factory is pretty awesome actually. So much free cheese!

        I now have mental images of Christian Grey doing a very unenthusiastic rendition of ‘Can’t Touch This’, which I suspect will be in my head all day…!

  3. It’s rather sick that awful male writers slip through the harsh criticism their female counterparts endure. I can name two male writers that should have suffered the same hate that Meyers and James have rightly received: Ralph Ellison (The Invisible Man) and Stephen King (I don’t care if he’s had 5 good books…the other 4926820980296 have more than overpowered them with terribleness).

    Also, can you please do more of these snipits? Your responses to them are slam-my-hand-on-my-desk hilarious.

    • I was going to say that Dan Brown is probably the only author I can think of who has been accused of “ruining literature,” despite having a penis. But Stephen King is a good one as well. Ralph Ellison… obviously that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

      I aim to please, m’dear. I was worried the Hilarious Quotes thing was overplayed, but it seems to be a crowd-pleaser and I am horribly desperate for love and appreciation.

  4. I completely agree with you here! I’ve also written a post about this horrendous trilogy. Oh and plain usually means boring and what Americans call soccer we call football. The books just make me cringe. Great post 🙂

    • Thanks! The soccer thing was meant as a joke — I thought it was funny that James felt the need to clarify that he liked “British soccer.” Anyone in North America who says they love soccer mean that they love British teams (because almost no one watches American or Canadian soccer), and if they love British teams, they will call it “football.” I could do a whole post on how James’s assumptions about life in the Northwest were hilariously off-center.

      I’m not totally sure I agree about “plain,” though.

      • Yeh, she phrased the whole soccer thing very strangely. I think the only reason the book was set in the US is because it’s Twilight fanfiction so she was trying to take the basis of the books. To be honest I don’t know anything about life in Northwest probably just as much as James does! She should have steered clear of it or at least done some research.

        As for claims that 50 Shades has outsold Harry Potter I think that’s just on Amazon and mainly eBook sales. JKR has sold over 400 million books and chose to be late with the party with eBooks. Please correct me if I’m wrong but there has been a lot of ’50 shades outsells Harry Potter’ and it is a bit misleading.

        I’ve really never heard of plain meaning ugly. It usually means simple/boring or just not particularly special. Maybe it has a more varied meaning in the states?

    • Ha, unfortunately not. I’ve tried for about a year and a half to finish the first Twilight book and I just couldn’t get through it. Nothing happens! It’s a lot like 50 Shades in that everyone was crazy about it or hated yet, and yet when you boil both books down, you’re just dealing with poor, boring writing.

      If I’d been a little quicker on the draw with the Twilight hate, I might have, but now it would feel like beating a dead horse. Also, nothing happens! It’s hard to even make fun of it, honestly.

    • Eh, in all honesty, this is the history of books. Everyone rushes out to read some campy, pulpy, awful book that’s completely forgotten a century later.

      I do think it’s interesting/funny that we throw up our arms at bad books written by women as the end of all literature, yet the John Grishams of the world get a pass because they’re just “doing a genre.” But that’s a feminist rant for another time.

      • Indeed, you raise an excellent point. That said, I think bad writing is bad writing regardless of whether the offending scribe is a guy or gal.

        My wife purchased “Fifty Shades . . .” for her Kindle. I read a couple of pages. It was truly awful. I have nothing against erotica–just bad writing!

      • I’m not arguing that this is possibly the worst thing I’ve ever read, but I would very much argue that female writers who churn out pulp are condemned much more heavily than male counterparts. The most reviled authors of the last decade have been EL James and Stephanie Meyer.

        In fact, I’m hard-pressed to name a male author who’s received the kind of negative press and negative attention paid to the two women above, and there have certainly been male authors who would deserve it.

        It’s ironic, in a way, that women have been outselling men for years and yet never seem to get an equal measure of credit and appreciation.

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