Actually, the title of this post is not completely accurate. I am 50, but I am not gray. Highlights help hide those gray hairs, which I know must be there, somewhere. But they are not prevalent just yet. Give me a few more years.
What is prevalent, of course, is the buzz in the library world (Will’s talking about it; The Annoyed Librarian’s talking about it; Andy’s talking about it; ALA is talking about it), and the reader world, and the get-on-your-high-horse-about-what’s-appropriate-and-what’s-not-world about Fifty Shades of Grey. I feel uniquely qualified to write this post for the following reasons:
1. I am a librarian
2. I read the book
3. My book group actually chose this book for April’s selection
4. I am a Mommy (as in “Mommy porn”)
As a reader, I was unimpressed. I actually read the book before my book group picked it because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about (as a librarian and a reader). Still not sure what all the fuss is about. The subject has been covered before and by better authors. There is little to no character development. It is a sex book. Erotica is too fancy a word. This is a book about kinky sex and even that characterization is subject to your own definition of kinky. To each their own, I say.
With regard to the dom/sub theme and degradation to women–this, too, is open to interpretation as some will view the story as an endorsement of male dominance while others may say Anastasia was in control the whole time.
As a woman and a mother (apparently “mommies” are asexual by default), I say read the book; don’t read the book, whatever. When my book group chose it, I was quick to point out that while I was not opposed to the book itself, I was opposed to having a group discussion about it. Awkward.
Finally, as a librarian, I say buy the book; don’t buy the book, whatever—follow your library’s policy. But please, don’t buy the book and then pull it off your shelves! What makes me laugh, though, is the fact that there are many other books of this nature on the shelves of libraries everywhere; however, they are not notorious because they have not made big news. So nobody is complaining about those books (i.e. bodice rippers and others). The only reason this book is getting so much attention is because its made a splash. And everybody’s talking about it, so librarians are forced to talk about it, too. Just today a local news station contacted the PR person in our System about the “controversy.”
As I said in my comment over at Agnostic, Maybe–fifty shades of boring. Why are we allowing this book to dominate much of our conversation? Why are news outlets only interested in libraries when they see an opportunity to sensationalize a story? Why do we submit to this treatment? Perhaps libraries are in a dom/sub relationship with the rest of the world. And lately, we’re not coming out on top, so to speak.
There are more important things to talk about. So why am I adding fuel to the fire, you may ask? Because I just couldn’t resist. How often does a 50-year-old librarian-reader-mother have a legitimate opportunity to write a blog post about a sex book? The controversy and the book may be bland, but I know a hot topic when I see one.