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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along

Getting people to read can be a challenge. I know this because I am a high school English teacher. When I ask, at the beginning of the year, how many of my students read for pleasure, I am often met with the sound of crickets and a lonely hand waving frantically to share the last 16 books that he or she has read. Because of this, I am compelled to weigh in on the current debate going on about the 50 Shades of Grey series by E.L. James.

 Although my opinion does not matter much, for purposes of this post, I will say that I truly enjoyed this series. Is it award-winning literature? No. Is it highbrow literary eloquence? No. Is it even without errors that could have been caught with additional editing? No. However, it IS a fun, quirky look at ONE couple's experience in the world of BDSM. When I emphasize the "one," I do this for a very specific reason. Apparently (as I do not have practical experience to rely on), not EVERYONE into this lifestyle practices it this way, just like not EVERYONE into this lifestyle will enjoy this book.

For those of you who are appalled that a mom from the suburbs is reading such things, I appreciate, but politely disagree with your opinion. I am open to all forms of literature. I find that after lauding the classics for their merit all day long, sometimes I want to come home and stop thinking, stop analyzing and stop working.  I am happy to fall into an alternate world, whether it comes in the form of vampires, witches and werewolves, sex crazed BDSM practitioners or even just regular vanilla characters involved in a story I enjoy. I don't care if the book I am reading accurately portrays the lifestyle it professes to be about or contains anachronisms. I don't care because I am trying to indulge in some mindless reading. During my mindless reading, I like to stop thinking and start experiencing.

Now I will step off my soapbox and explain what this post is REALLY about. I have seen many articles, Facebook posts and tweets that rant and rave about how "lame" this book is. People clearly have very strong opinions about it. I understand the book critics who provide a book review because it is their job, but for people to insult their friends online because of a book is wrong. I teach my students not to judge a book we read in class until they have completed it. Even then, I try to encourage them to come away with SOMETHING positive they have gotten by reading it. Insulting the people who enjoy this book kills the pleasure in pleasure reading. Don't murder the experience for another person, especially if it was a good one. Although it is cliché, if you don't have anything nice to say, be quiet, or private message your friends who share your opinion, but don't insult someone for enjoying a book. It is a personal experience.

As I said in the beginning, it is difficult to get people, of all ages, to read. I have friends who infrequently or never pick up a book. This book, like the Twilight series that it is loosely based on, has gotten "mommies" and other women (and men) READING. In my opinion, whether you like the book or not, isn't THAT the point?

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