Posted on January 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Love it or loathe it, by one measure, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James was the past decade’s bestselling book.

And boy, did it and its two sequels inspire breathless analysis of what it meant about society as a whole.

The Guardian’s Sian Cain, who was working in a bookstore when the first books came out, looks back at the various trends the trilogy inspired and breaks down the hot takes on it.

Many phrases in the article are somewhat naughty, so we’ll share a few of our favorite (clean) snippets for those who aren't ready to click through just yet:

“Charity shops began refusing donations of second-hand copies; one Oxfam in Swansea received so many that staff built a fort out of them. A hotel owner in France told me of the season they were saddled with 150 discarded copies in different languages.”

“A few years ago, students in (sex educator Evie Fehilly)’s kink classes would cite the books as their reason for being there. Now, no one mentions them at all, although Fehilly does credit them for bringing BDSM into the mainstream.”

“Multiple authors who had made a living from writing erotica during the Fifty Shades boom told me that within two years they were unable to pitch it.”

“Fiona Mackenzie, from the campaign group We Can’t Consent to This, says her group avoids the term ‘Fifty Shades defence,’ as it puts the responsibility on the mainly female readers of the books, instead of the male perpetrators.” 

And, in conclusion from Cain: “What stays with me from my time selling Fifty Shades, even more than the creative excuses, was what so many people said when they returned for the sequels. ‘You know, I’d never been in a bookshop before,’ they told me, clutching their haul. ‘What else is there?’”

Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: Scandal, The Guardian

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