Fifty Shades Of Grey Sparks Interest In Reading

07/10/2012 11:56 am ET | Updated Sep 09, 2012
  • Lara Grant University of Texas Journalism Student

First came Twilight, then Hunger Games and now there's Fifty Shades of Grey.

The first two series attracted a primarily younger fan base -- though adults were not immune -- while the Fifty Shades trilogy is reserved for more mature audiences. Though I'd argue that none of them are exquisite works of literature, there are striking similarities between the three: Each series became paperback phenomena, helping increase interest levels in books in otherwise apathetic readers.

During the initial Twilight mania (in which every girl in my senior class partook), I narrowly abstained from reading the vampire love story and becoming a Twihard. On the other hand, I did read The Hunger Games. While it was not a literary masterpiece, I found it to be a very original plot and enjoyable, as I was eager to discover Katniss' fate.

Now the book to read, at least for middle-aged women, is Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. I was hesitant to read the New York Times best-selling novel, one that can only be described as erotic fiction. Not only would it be mildly embarrassing to purchase, I had to deal with the fact that my mother had read it. After prodding from my roommate, I decided to buy a copy.

Some aspects of the writing, primarily the narration, are almost comically awful, but I understand the allure. What makes this book so appealing is its simplicity. Readers aren't searching the Internet for definitions, aside from maybe a few BDSM terms. It's entrancing. This explains why I finished the Fifty Shades trilogy in just a few days.

Much like Twilight and The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades is successful in large part because readers really want to find out what happens to the characters. This is why the sequels have been more than successful. According to the Wall Street Journal, as of July 2, the trilogy has sold 19.4 million copies in print and e-book form since its U.S. release in March. Readers may not stop to highlight a great quote or sigh in awe at any superb metaphor, but they will read it through to the last page. It is for this that I am thankful.

I've always loved a good book. In elementary school I would check out as many of them as the librarian would allow. Though my favorite book has evolved from Walk Two Moons to East of Eden, I have never wavered in my love for reading. This is why it's incredibly disheartening whenever I hear people say they hate to read.

While I can't comprehend why people don't like books, it seems apparent that maybe pushing classic novels is the problem. Many people don't want to read Shakespeare, I agree, but that's why books like The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey are so great; they appeal to the masses.

These books that are chiefly plot-driven may lack more sophisticated literary devices, but they are definitely crowd pleasers. Although I wish their consumers would purchase a Dickens novel with their copy of Breaking Dawn, I'm overjoyed that they are becoming attracted to reading at all.

During a summer class at NYU, my professor asked a student if they read. The girl replied that she had read Twilight. Her answer is one I've heard echoed many times. While I wish everyone could obtain the same passion for reading and books that I have, I'm delighted that there's a positive answer and not a "no."

If every person could find a genre or author or series that piques their curiosity, reading could hopefully replace some of the time spent surfing the Internet or playing video games. I may be alone in my age group for having reading as one of my favorite hobbies, but if fan fiction and YA books can inspire a new generation of readers, then I say bring on as many Hunger Games and Fifty Shades-esque trilogies as publishers can print.