50 Shades of Grey – Bookcast #19

50 Shades of Grey (2011) by E.L. James

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is handsome, brilliant, and intimidating. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty and sharp wit, Grey admits he wants her too—but he 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.

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“50 Shades of Grey” Show Notes

2:00 – Intro to “50 Shades of Grey”

  • James has told the most famous dirty story in the world about forbidden sex, dark passion and the exploration of our deepest needs
  • Intended audience: People who like reading porn, Anyone who has a blah sex life, Anyone who’s curious about BDSM; Anyone who wants to understand why “50 Shades” became a global phenomenon
  • Who won’t like it: People who like great literature; People who don’t like to step outside their sexual comfort zone; Highly religious/conservative people; People who are never going to hook up with a billionaire

5:30 – How easy is the book to read?

  • Very Easy reading wise. Could be traumatizing if you’re not into highly kinky, violent sexual acts – or fairly cheesy writing.
  • Print: 530 pages (11-13 hours to read)
  • Audiobook: 19 hours 45 minutes

6:00 – Reviews and significance of “50 Shades of Grey”

  • 48,679 reviews — 3.8 Stars
    • “50 Shades” book series has sold over 150 million copies
    • 8th most reviews for a book (out of millions of books on Amazon)
  • Currently: 
    • #789 Amazon – Erotic Romance and Fiction
    • #222 Amazon – Contemporary Romance
    • #287 Amazon – Holiday Romance(??)
    • #12 Audible – Contemporary Romance
    • #22 Audible – Women’s Fiction

8:30 – Bio of E.L.James

  • British author Erika Mitchell (born March 1963 – she’s 57 years old)
  • Born to Chilean mother and Scottish father (BBC cameraman)
  • Degree in history from University of Kent, England
  • Met husband Niall Leonard, a screenwriter and novelist, in 1987. They have two children. 
  • Worked as studio manager’s assistant at the famous “National Film and Television School” in England, then became a production executive at BBC
  • Read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, became obsessed. Read multiple times, then started writing fanfiction using the web name “Snowqueens Icedragon.”
  • Between January and August 2009 wrote two Twilight fanfiction novels “Master of the Universe 1 and 2” that served as the basis for the Fifty Shades trilogy.
  • After the novel was edited and published in e-book form, it blew up
  • Remained on the NYT best-seller lists for over 100 weeks
  • Quickly became the #1 Amazon book of all time on Kindle
  • She never wrote anything before her Twilight fanfiction.
  • In 2012, Time magazine voted her one of the Top 100 most influential people in the world
  • Now oversees an empire of “50 Shades”-related merchandising, including all manner of movie tie-ins – with an emphasis on toys of all kinds
  • She currently has a net-worth of over $170 million
  • James has written six books so far: “50 Shades of Grey” and the two sequels in the trilogy “50 Shades Darker” and “50 Shades Freed.” She’s also written two more books retelling the “50 Shades” story from the perspective of Christian Grey. James also has one more book “The Mister”

12:00 – Major Themes of the Book

  • Power
  • Wealth
  • Innocence (and the end of Innocence)
  • Violence
  • Past Trauma
  • Mystery
  • Sexual Exploration

16:30 – Jay’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best about “50 Shades of Grey”? 
    • I am continually fascinated by the idea that all women have deep, mysterious sexuality that can be unlocked…if you have the right key. I also really enjoyed investigating why so many women are compelled to read about violent sexuality.
  • Share a favorite quote (maybe 2). Why did this quote(s) stand out?
    • “There’s a very fine line between pleasure and pain. They are two sides of the same coin, one not existing without the other.”
    • “This is a man in need. His fear is naked and obvious, but he’s lost. . . Somewhere in his darkness. His eyes wide and bleak and tortured. I can soothe him. Join him briefly in the darkness and bring him into the light.”
  • What did you learn from this book / How did this book change you?
    • I learned that millions of women around the world fantasize about very kinky things
  • What did you like least (critique)?
    • My biggest issue is that the writing is often cringe inducing. The book often feels like a twelve-year old is writing it. It’s the exact opposite of literature.
  • What question(s) would you ask the author?
    • How much of “50 Shades” is something you’ve experienced in real life – and how much is fantasy?
  • What character, other than the main character, impacted you most and why?
    • Christian Grey’s family. Basically all highly-successful romance stories have at least two or three highly loving “support characters” that sit in the background and make sure the main character feels valuable. They don’t get praise but they’re critical to the well-being of the protagonist. I think this is true in real life as well.
  • Any other related/connected books that you’d recommend to others?
    • “Beautiful Player” by Christina Lauren. An agreement between a venture capitalist and a bookish woman quickly becomes a very NSFW version of My Fair Lady. Most romance novels are overwrought and ridiculous. This book is surprisingly fun to read and actually quite sexy.

24:00 – Matt’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best about “50 Shades of Grey”? 
    • Women’s reactions when they get caught reading this book
  • Share a favorite quote (maybe 2). Why did this quote(s) stand out?
    • “Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said – when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
    • “I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey… and I hate coffee.”
  • What did you learn from this book / How did this book change you?
    • I learned that the editor for this book shouldn’t work again
  • What did you like least? (critique)
    • Poorly written, hello Editor. Odd lingering descriptions of things that don’t matter
  • What question(s) would you ask the author?
    • Where did this story come from? Were there personal pieces in the story – things you’ve experienced?
  • “What character, other than the main character, impacted you most and why?”
    • I just kept thinking, what if the roommate (Kate) didn’t have the flu, then Ana would have never met Mr Gray…
  • Any other related/connected books that you’d recommend to others?
    • “Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual” by Jocko Willink

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50 Shades of Grey – Bookcast #19 2

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