I’ve read lots of banned books over the years — you probably have, too, whether you know it or not — but the only book I have sought out because it was banned is E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.
The book made international news in early May 2012, when Brevard County Library Services Director Catherine Schweinsberg pulled nineteen copies from library shelves after reviewing the book herself and finding it to be “pornography.” Needless to say, the suddenly taboo book became ever more interesting, not only to the 200+ patrons already on the book’s hold list, but also to defenders of free speech nationwide — and me.
Let’s face it: with over 1,000 checkouts to date since its reinstatement, in hardback, large-print, and spoken-CD formats, Fifty Shades of Grey‘s popularity eclipses that of other erotic titles on Brevard County Library shelves, including Anais Nin’s Little Birds, with only 16 checkouts total. Is it a good book? Was it worth the $9.99 I paid for the Kindle version when I couldn’t get it for free? Well… I made it to page 169 before giving up on it — I prefer Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Pauline Réage, Maria Isabel Pita, and Erica Jong — but quality isn’t the point, is it?
Despite its popularity, Fifty Shades of Grey wins no literary accolades in my book, but it’s not up to Brevard County Libraries or anyone else to tell me that I shouldn’t read (a third of) it.
Want to make your own decision? Check out Fifty Shades of Grey from Brevard County Libraries. I dare you.