DAY 29. – A book you hated.

I’m not really into hating books. Some books I don’t like obviously. But hate seems dreadfully harsh. Reserved, in fact only for books that offend in some way. Books that are blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic would be deserving of my hatred. Thankfully, I have not read many books that are.

There is only one book that I can think of that i have read recently that I have found offensive in this way. In my mind, Fifty Shades of Grey is anti-feminist. I know a lot of people claim that the ending of the first book is a feminist ending because she leaves him but the next two books obviously put a damper on this.

There are many annoying things about this book, not least that it really should be called Christian Grey and his ever-ready erection. I’m sure this is one of the things that women like about this book. Christian is always ready, no matter how recently he has already had an orgasm. That and the fact  that Ana has amazing wonderful orgasms right from the first. Every time. Then there is all the talk of Christians ‘considerable length.’ Actually that’s not offensive, it’s laughable. I’d have been happier if she had said Christian has an enormous cock. I find euphemisms much more cringe worthy for some reason. All the talk of inner goddesses had me cringing in much the same way. So far, so annoying but not quite enough to warrant hatred.

So here are two things that I really hated about this book. (I could choose more but these are the two that stand out.) Ana gives Christian a blow job in the bath. In fact, she deep throats him then he praises her lack of gag reflex. Really! Because they’re the words every woman is just waiting to hear. If a man had written this scene I am sure that women would have been appalled. Well, the fact that a woman wrote it doesn’t make it any less dubious as far as I am concerned.

The other thing that Christian says that should have women screaming in outrage is “You’ve had six orgasms so far and all of them belong to me.” So Ana is not even allowed to own the pleasure of her own body. Was this book really written in these last few years? To me, it seems hard to believe because the sexual politics in this book are so ridiculously old fashioned. It would be amusing if so many women didn’t love this book.

I’m not even going to comment on the whole s/m thing. Enough words have been shed over this book already. I am told that I should read the other books because they explain Christian’s background but to be honest I do not need to know because there is no excuse for the way he makes Ana act and the things that he does to her. That is as true in fiction as it is in real life.

 

Day 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.

I don’t really get embarrassed about what i read. As I mentioned when it was a book that is a guilty pleasure, I like what I like. I think there is very little point to being embarrassed about liking something. Why bow down to what other people think you should or shouldn’t like? It all seems a bit pointless.

I was embarrassed to read 50 shades of Grey. Not because I liked it. I think I’ve made my feelings about it clear. And not because of the sex either which is neither original or all that exciting. Embarrassed because I knew the judgements I’d be making if I saw myself reading it on the train. I did not want people to make those sort of inferences about me. So I actually hid the front of it. It is not easy to read with a book flat on your lap but this is what I did so that no one would know what I was reading. I probably looked a little weird. I wouldn’t pick up the Twilight series for much the same reason. So maybe I am being a little disingenuous when I say you shouldn’t be embarrassed by what you read when I am pre-selecting what I would be embarrassed to say I liked in advance.

I ain’t thick, don’t treat me as though I am.

As ever, I find myself out of step with fashion. just another craze that is beyond me. So much cultural nonsense that I just don’t get. Following on from X Factor, Big Brother, TOWIE. Why is it that I feel my intelligence is being called into question on a daily basis? And yet, reasonably intelligent people seem to find these things unproblematic. I find myself, more and more, listening to little bands, local bands, watching art-house movies and avoiding the TV all together.

This particular rant started a few weeks ago and has been running through my head since then. It was startled into life again today as I was listening to Jeffrey Lewis’ version of I ain’t thick, its just a trick and suddenly I was feeling all riled up so here it is.

It all started when I decided to read 50 Shades of Grey. I know, I know, what exactly was I expecting. (I know a snobbish part of me was already hoping it would be a bit rubbish as anything that popular should be.) But I wanted to understand exactly why it was so popular and, of course, if you haven’t read it then you can’t really moan about it. So how exactly did this tame tale of an irritating sadist and a pathetic masochist become the publishing phenomenon of the year? It’s hard to know. Are there really that many bored housewives out there? Of course, it’s the hype. I would never have read it otherwise, that is certain. At least I can say I bought it in a charity shop so someone needy at least benefited from my purchase.

I have to admit – and I’m comfortable with my intellectual snob status, so feel free to use that label – that I find the popularity of this book depressing. Just like I find the popularity of TOWIE depressing. The plot is basic and obvious. The characters are annoying stereotypes. However, I have to also admit that the popularity of this book is proof of the power of the reader. Proof of the power of the e-book. All to the good then, when, in the next few days, my book hits the e-shelves.

So on the one hand, 50 Shades of Grey makes me feel more confident about the possibilities for my book, Shattered Reflections. Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect to become the next big thing. I’d rather have lower sales and better reviews anyway. On the other, it has helped to contribute to the snobbishness already surrounding self-publishing. When I was wavering over whether to self publish or not, this is the factor that I found the most difficult to deal with. The idea of no quality control.

Still, ultimately I think it is a cause for celebration that something could be carried along by word of mouth and that there is a whole world of publishing outside of the big six publishers. Just like with music and film, I think I will be investigating it a bit more closely.