We all know what this book is about and why I didn’t like it. If you don’t have any idea what it is, here’s the Goodreads link.  Instead of writing a negative review about that, let me tell you a story about Fifty Shades of Grey and my first days as a librarian.

It was March of 2012. After being unemployed for four years to be a stay-at-home mom, I was hired to work behind the circulation desk at the public library in town. That particular day, a line formed at the front desk, which, as I would discover, happens all the time- but it’s stressful to have people waiting while you’re learning the ropes.

At the front of the line, a sweet, little elderly lady asked me, “Honey, do you have that book about the color grey?” I looked at my manager in confusion and he immediately answered, “Yes, ma’am, we do, but all SIX of our copies are currently checked out. Would you like me to put you on hold for it?” He walked me through the process of doing a hold request and then we were on to the next person in line. This time, a teenage girl giggled behind her hand as she asked me about, “That Fifty Shades book, do you have it?” I gave her the answer that we just gave the little old lady, and I put the girl on hold for it too.

All day long, for my first two weeks on the job, women, old/young and from all walks of life, asked me to get the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, for them. I still had no idea what this series was about… remember, this was before E.L. James did the talk show circuit in the states. After she made her appearances on Rachel Ray and, I can’t remember where else- was it Ellen?-, all hell broke lose. We couldn’t keep the books on the shelves and irate patrons were calling and storming the circ desk, wanting to know why the second book in the series arrived on their hold shelf before the first book did. (Short answer-the first book had four times as many holds on it as the others in the series.) To accommodate the demand, the library bought another six copies of the regular print books, bringing our own total copies to a dozen, not counting the audiobooks and large print versions. The library system that we take part in, owned nearly 500 copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, altogether. It was a literary phenomenon.

I decided, that even though it wasn’t my thing, I was going to read this trilogy that was blowing up the library world. So, I did. I wasn’t floored by it, but I could see how it appealed to a certain crowd. Erotica is very popular at the library, after all. Conscientiously, I read all three of the books, because that’s just the kind of professional reader that I am. :p After awhile, I started skipping the sex stuff because, frankly, it became repetitive and boring. I soldiered on because I wanted to know what happened to Ana. And, I found out.

In this book, on the other hand, I knew what was going to happen before I even picked it up so I didn’t bother to finish it when I discovered that it had nothing really new to offer. Grey is just for the true fans of the series and, unfortunately, I am not a true fan. I’ll always equate Fifty Shades with my first days on the job and my whirlwind introduction to the world of public libraries. I believe that it is a cultural touchstone for me in that regard. But, that doesn’t mean that I think it’s worth the ridiculous hype that it has garnered. Pick up Grey if you truly loved the original trilogy and wanted it to go on and on. I’d advise all other readers to steer clear.

Thanks for reading!

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One thought on “Grey by E.L. James

  1. This is a great story! I’m so glad you shared. I have an amazing image of you trapped behind a desk by hoards of women…
    I had no idea that erotica was popular at the library, either. Honestly, I will need to do some research for my local branch…

    Liked by 1 person

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