Surely by now you’ve heard friends talk of this book, and if you haven’t yet, you will.  Consider me a friend.  And here’s my talk.

I love the characters.  Ana may be sexually naïve at the start of the book, but she has spunk and wit.  She takes on Christian as no other woman has; the email between them is priceless.  Christian is flawed, but for a reason.  Discovering that reason is cause enough to read on.

I love that this book is, at one level, about the empowerment of women.  Despite Christian’s need to be the Dominant and have Ana as the Submissive, she has control from the start.  Moreover, Christian falls so hard for her that she actually has the ability to change him.  Isn’t this every woman’s fantasy – to take a flawed man and help him grow?

I love the sex.  It may be kinky, but it is consensual, erotic but gentle and intriguing, with built-in safeguards and care.  I love that it has none of the violence of, say, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

I love the psychological elements here.  If you’ve read my books, you know why.

I love that this book is getting women reading again – and not in the YA fold, as in Twilight and The Hunger Games.

I love that it is creating buzz.  It has us talking.  We’re big girls; why not?  What was the last women’s book you can name that had us so chatty?

I love that this book is waking up a new generation of female readers.  My parents’ generation had Peyton Place.  My generation had The Joy of Sex.  My kids’ generation hasn’t really had anything, what with the explicit nature of today’s movies and tv.  This may be theirs.

I love that it’s available as an e-book.  As one of the members of my book group pointed out, the e-reader is a “virtual plain brown wrapper.”

Mostly, I love that it’s a page-turner, a fast, fun, and interesting read.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the first of a trilogy.  Having breathlessly finished it, I’m into the second, Fifty Shades Darker, and am fascinated both by the growth of the characters and the evolution of the sex.  The third, Fifty Shades Freed, is on my iPad.  I suspect I’ll be reading it within the week.

Can we talk about these books?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

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  1. Eileen Burkhardt on April 6, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I feel like I’m in the dark here, I haven’t heard of this book – and I’m a major fan of the Book Review in the Times…will have to buy it and check it out – Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 6, 2012 at 6:08 am

      I’m not sure this is anything the Times will touch, Eileen. It’s been woman-to-woman, word-of-mouth all the way — which is one of the things I love about it! 🙂

      • Randi Pilato on April 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

        I am on the second book 80% through it and totally agree with everything you said, Barbara. Love the read and the way the characters have evolved! I am totally immersed, but feel like there are parts that don’t read well. I think there are even some typos! I keep telling people that I am living vicariously through Ana. I do think that some of our husbands would benefit from reading it! I told my husband to read it and he has yet to pick it up. I have the physical book as well as on my kindle, iPhone, and iPad. I know redundant, but I bought the first book before I realized it was on the kindle, and I like to read at the beach on the weekends so the kindle it easy to see in the sun and I can make the text larger so I don’t have to wear reading glasses and can keep on my shades! At night in bed the iPad is perfect, especially with the black background and white print. Happy reading everyone. Still waiting for your newest to hit the shelves! Randi P

  2. Chris Jenkins on April 6, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Just started the first one the other night and couldn’t stop reading when it was time for bed. I stayed up 2 hours past the time I normally go to bed, and that doesn’t happen often! Boy was I tired the next day!

    I love Christian! I think I have a bit of a crush on him….love Ana’s spunky spirit too. And I love how fast it the book flows…it’s not a hard read at all.

    I’m looking forward to lots more time to read this weekend, and I’m also getting ready to order the other 2 books so they’ll be waiting on the ipad when I finish this one!

  3. Kathi Foley on April 6, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I have read all 3 of these books twice in a matter of a week. I love them.

  4. Deb Kosteniuk on April 6, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I am starting to hear more and more about the Fifty Shades of Grey books – some of it negative regarding the dominant/submissive theme, a lot of it raving over the eroticism. but overall women are loving the books. I thought you touched upon the aspects of the books that make them so intriguing. Now I am going to have to get off my butt and purchase them!!! It’s good to hear the dialogue women are having about what they are reading – can’t wait to buy, read, and then talk about these books with my friends!

  5. Peggie Beaupre Ashbury on April 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I love a friend to recommend books! Thanks so much. I’m on my way to the bookstore.

  6. aida alberto on April 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I’m in the middle of re-reading the second book again. Wow somebody who loved these books for all of the intelligent reasons that you posted above. I love Maya Banks, Megan Hart and Jaci Burton to name a few so yes I like to read erotica. I think I was reading erotica before it become politically correct to read them and admit how much I enjoy them. They are strong well written stories. I like to refer to them as love stories with the sex ramped up. And I love the fact that women are reading something beyond YA which I don’t read.

  7. sue on April 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I you recommed this book I will read it.
    I never heard of it I will give it a try I’m a bookworm!
    what is the authors name?

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 6, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Sue, the author is EL James, but please don’t buy this book solely on my rec. Read the comments here and on FB. These books are very explicit — but great fun, right guys?

  8. Carol on April 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I love these books! I finished reading all three in one week! I really like how Ana is a very strong young woman and her strength changes Christian. The D/s relationship is something that some women desire. It is a lifestyle that people choose to live. I found out about these books through an article on aol. The book started out kinda slow but a few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. I ordered these through Amazon and my kindle was on fire for about a week!

    • Anne on April 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

      As is my Kindle, on fire… I like the anonymity of the Kindle, although the covers for these books are neutral, until you read them. That grey tie on the cover. Yum.

  9. Bonnie on April 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Loved these books! I still blush when I even talk to my girl friends about reading them. This is what my iPad was made for!
    No one had a clue what I was reading as I sat on the airplane smiling ! I love that I heard about these from my 30 something daughter and her best friend! I really love that these books are indeed on the New York Times best seller list. I love that this is a story of growth, Christian’s, Ana’s and mine as a reader!
    I especially love that my favorite author Barbara Delinsky started a great conversation about “Shades of Grey.”

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

      And I love you for saying these things, Bonnie!

  10. Debby McClelland on April 6, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I have to say that I loved the trilogy. There was a segment on The Today Show talking about the “hottest” book to be published in a while, but they were questioning the subject matter and whether or not it was demeaning to women. Being the curious sort, I purchased the first one, and will admit that I was quite addicted. Seeing the evolution of the characters as the story unfolded was a quite a journey. As Barbara said, the changes that both Christan and Ana experienced was quite a ride…. the sex was quite steamy, and from what I’ve read and heard, it’s opened up new experiences for many people.. I also second Bonnie’s response….yay for Barbara opening up a discussion about a subject that many might wish to shy away from because the whole D/s community can be, and has been misunderstood for years. Too many think it’s solely about kinky sex, “whips and chains,and pain” But, it is so much more than that beginning with trust, mutual wants and needs and more importantly, consent. You can see that in the words written with the three books….Bravo Barbara!

  11. Anne on April 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

    I am SO GLAD you like these books! I’m reading them voraciously, one after the other. I’m starting the third today. My eyes are like peeholes and burning and I’m totally immersed. The sex is incredible, and I like the first person writing. But the book is not about the sex; it is about the relationship. I like the timeline — we see nearly every moment of Ana’s life. Not snapshots, and it’s almost stream of consciousness. So we live each day with her. I am SO RELIEVED that others enjoy this and I’m not so embarrassed now for reading them. After all, so much of book 1 is erotica. Book 2 is less so and Book 3 I have yet to see. I think the writing is outstanding, unlike some of the reviews I’ve read that are posted online.

  12. Brigid on April 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi Barbara! I hadn’t heard of this one, but am very curious now, so I’m going to download or pick it up for my next read! Thanks for recommending it 🙂 love the other readers review too!

  13. Lorraine Thacker on April 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for the recommendation, one of the best things about an e reader is that I have discovered so many new genres from word of mouth. Some are things I would never have picked up in a book store because I hate buying a book full price, getting a chapter or two into it, only to discover that it is not my taste (and that’s pretty eclectic). At least with my kindle I can read all of the reviews first or download a free sample first, makes it much easier and I have discovered so many new authors! Thanks to one of my favorites, for more years than either of us will discuss ; for adding to my list! Since you only give me one a year or so…and I read faster than that LOL!

  14. Laurie on April 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I think I’m going to grab my credit card and go buy the first one on line now…….thanks for the tip.

  15. Luisa on April 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I loved the books, all three, too! Your comments are spot on what I felt about the books. Regardless of the many and repetitive sex scenes, the love story is just spectacular. Your blog gave me the itch to start reading them again LOL


  16. carol on April 9, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Now that you’ve given it the thumbs up, I may need to add this to my reading list!
    thanks for your insights~ will miss you at squam this year!

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

      I’ll miss you all at Squam, too, Carol. Sadly, we have a major conflict that weekend. I’ll be thinking of you, though!

  17. Pam on April 12, 2012 at 2:34 am

    As a bookseller of many years, as well as a voracious reader, I do my best to keep abreast of anything in the literary world that creates a substantial buzz. I find the Fifty Shades trilogy interesting in that as Ms. Delinsky pointed out, the word is being generated primarily woman to woman and not promoted in quite the same fashion as say The Hunger Games series. After hearing it repeatedly labeled as “mommy porn”, I picked up the first book with trepidation and was pleasantly surprised to find myself completely swept into this budding relationship between someone so innocent and another so worldly. The manner in which the storyline develops and unfolds in genius in today’s age of technology driven communication. Yes, the sex is steamy and kinky–hallelujah! We can all use a bit more steam in our lives. I found, however, that much of the negative hype I have personally heard as a bookseller has no basis in truth. I have heard statements saying that it doesn’t matter what page you turn it to, there is nothing but lurid, gratuitous sex and I have heard there are sex acts that are perverse and heinous and repulsive. Really? I found I had to read a good 100 pages at least before getting to the good stuff!!! And much of the kink people assume takes place in the story is merely alluded to as possible menu items up for discussion as this young couple explore their budding relationship together. I rather found Fifty Shades of Grey to be a genuine-allbeit spicy-depiction of the evolution of a couple. The kink is simply a refreshing approach.

    My fifty cents worth.

  18. Barbara Delinsky on April 12, 2012 at 6:09 am

    With which I totally agree, Pam! Thank you for sharing such an articulate bookseller’s view!

  19. Lyn on May 5, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I certainly have enjoyed the first book, I sat up to 3.00am to finish it one morning as I was so hooked.
    I now have the next 2 delivered yesterday and can’t wait to get started
    I was talking about it to a group of older ladies at a craft group today, and showed them a few of the more steamer pages on my ipad (I bought the books before I knew I could download it) and they were all off to download or buy it today
    It isn’t often that you here all the buzz about a book for ladies, I am in Australia so it is a worldwide
    I believe it is flying off the shelves where ever it is on sale.
    I love the characters, Ana certainly has a good head on her shoulders, I don’t thin I could have handled Christian
    quite so well when I was in my twenties

  20. Pam on May 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I had heard about the books on one of the morning talk shows. I read the reviews on various websites and was a little leery about purchasing these books. I went ahead and ordered them anyway despite what the reviews said and I have to say I am very glad I did. I LOVE this series. I totally agree that the characters grow through each book and that Ana is a strong female character. Christian is a very complex character that kept me reading to find out more about his past. I have already recommended this series to others and will continue to do so.

  21. Deborah on May 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Barbara !!
    I hadn’t heard of this one book or author.But I am very curious now. I’m going to download this to my Kindle for my next read! Thanks for recommending it !!

  22. Paula on May 31, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I downloaded the sample from Amazon due to everyone at work talking about it. I couldn’t get passed the poor writing. It read like fan fiction. Then my daughter told me the author used to write Twilight fan fiction. Though a good story, Twilight is not the best written book out there either. I love reading well written books with a good plot. I’m not interested in reading explicit sex, so I will pass on this series. Some things are just not for every reader.

  23. Sammi on June 26, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I have read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and loved the books. It isn’t just “mommy porn” as depicted in the media, it is also a love story that develops over the three books. I have found the books addicting as have many others who have read them. Don’t read them to tear apart the writing, read them for entertainment, for the fun, sexy story that unfolds.

  24. Keri on June 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I have read the first two books and am half way through the third and I agree that they are not the best written fiction out there but the certainly look at sexual intimacy from a female perspective without all the euphanisms for genitals and sexual acts. I have never forgotten my best friend and I reading in a hotel room and she fell out of the bed laughing from a line in a romantic novel that read ” she stared in awe as his swordlike manhood lept from his trousers”. We were in our 20’s then and now in our forties we still will joke about keeping our eye out for those leaping manhoods. I don’t understand why so many people find them offensive when the sex is between adults and is consensual. I would not like my teenage daughter to read them but I think the message is more positive than that of Twilight that thinks marrying a man and giving up who you are and your entire life to be with him at the age of 18 is a great idea.

  25. Paula on June 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I’m just about finished book 2 and I love them. It’s interesting to hear an author comment on books not their own! Thanks for sharing your opinion of them with us and like everyone else, I can’t wait for your newest book to come out!! You’re my favorite author, by far!!!

  26. Libby on July 9, 2012 at 1:41 am

    While I found the actual writing quite repetitive and some of the dialogue like that of a teenager, I must admit it was a fast read and the pages were turning rather quickly. I won’t repeat any of the things other writers wrote but want to add that while Christian’s character is quite developed with flaws and all I think James could’ve done so much more with Ana. She states several times over the course of the trilogy that Ana cannot believe tht this beautiful man is with her, or what he sees in her, and while she stands her ground on several key issues she appears insecure regarding others. I wish this part of Ana was explored more because she too is flawed.

    Apart from that I found the entire virgin diving into s&m bit a huge leap. What started out like a Harlequin romance, i.e. naive/inexperienced virgin meets and falls for older (a bit) way more experienced (in sex at least) and much richer man quickly turns red hot and erotic. In reality, the kind of world Christian offers Ana would have to explored by two people who trust one another and that trust would have to be based on something more than lust and 5 minutes of knowing each other. Enough said.

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