Fifty Shades of Book Clubs

Several of the book clubs in my area have already or are in the process of reading E.L. James’ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. My own book club has not selected it but a few members have been reading it. Although I haven’t read the book and can’t offer a review, it’s the opinions surrounding it that interest me.

Certainly, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY has received a great deal of press – especially since it’s been banned in some library systems. How outdated does that sound? I admit I don’t know much about the book other than it chronicles a passionate and erotic physical relationship in detail. Some have labelled the book pornographic. I have no idea whether it is or not and frankly, I don’t care. It’s the comments from friends and fellow readers that got me thinking.

One friend’s husband has read the book and keeps questioning her about it while she’s reading it. What does she think? Has she gotten to the part where…? Hmmm, something tells me his interest in the book wasn’t the great plot line or writing style. Another friend’s book group chose it as their selection of the month but a few members, including this friend, have opted not to read it. She laughed that she’s too much of a prude before adding that it just didn’t appeal to her. Fair enough. Maybe the controversy surrounding the book is partially fueling it’s popularity but at least people are reading and talking about what they’re reading. What a positive for the book world!

This book also got me to thinking about book clubs in general and how much I love the diversity in them. When my group read the Stieg Larsson series, a couple of members abstained. The violence was too graphic for their taste. However, that didn’t stop the rest of the group from reading the entire trilogy and devoting multiple meetings to the discussion of the books and subsequent movies (both versions). They didn’t mind because not all our selections can be everyone’s favorite. Lately, my book club has read quite a few nonfiction titles. We’ve also read historical fiction, chick lit, and literary fiction in recent months. That’s important because I’ve read books I never would have selected on my own and was glad I did.

Last week, I was speaking to another friend about her book club when she told me they never read nonfiction (I personally think they’re missing out but I understand). She went on to say, however, that their fiction choices are all over the map, crossing several genres. That sounds good to me. Variety is primarily why I couldn’t be a part of a book club that specializes in only one genre (i.e. romance or mystery) although I like those books, too. There’s just too much good writing out there (okay – there’s bad writing, too, but that could happen in any type of book club). It’s okay to have a favorite style of book but once in a while, readers should branch out and try something different. That doesn’t mean I’m saying book clubs should read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY but maybe one meeting a year, groups should pick something that shakes things up. Discover a new genre or writer.

My own book club may or may not select FIFTY SHADES OF GREY but, either way, I have a feeling I’ll read it. I admit I’m curious and want to know what all the hype is about – good or bad. The only thing I know for sure is that when I do read it, I hope I’m sitting somewhere near the water with the sun shining down and a cold drink in my hand. Just sounds like that kind of book to me.

P.S. I’m always looking for good book club recommendations. Don’t by shy and send me some comments/ideas.

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