What I Learned From Reading the “Fifty Shades of Grey” Series Over the Years

In 2011, E.L James changed the lives of millions of housewives all over the world with the publication of the first Fifty Shades of Grey novel. The phenomenon brought two more books in the series, a fourth book written from the perspective of Christian Grey and three movies in the franchise. This popular story takes the ideas of a romance novel to a new level with erotic content and honest review of the implication that come from hard beginnings and their impact on relationships in the future. Many see it mainly for its sexual content, which can be expected. There is a lot of sex and it is not the vanilla idea of sex and love. However, there is more to the romance and dynamic of the novel, and over the years of reading the series I have found new things about the character, the romance and about my personal opinions of the book and its subject.

I read the first book when I was sixteen. My mom had the book and she had never really limited me to what I could read (to an extent). When I first read it, I was slightly overwhelmed by the sexual content, only because it usually not so openly discussed. There was a lot of Googling because let's be honest, how many 16-year old girls know what “silver balls” are and how they are used? So it's easy to say the first reading went over my head, but what did stand out was the difference in this kind of romance. It is not so black and white for them. As the title would suggest, it take the shades of grey in between to understand their love. It is a fast-paced romance that expresses the ability to find the good in a person that may not have initially good intentions. I read the next two books soon after and still found myself connecting more to the movement of their love relationship rather than to their sexual relationship.

I read the series a second time right before the 2015 release of the first film. At this point, I was two years older and two years into a committed relationship. I found a new connection to the book. In reading the series a second time, I found an appreciation and a connection to Anastasia’s “Inner Goddess.” It is spoken about throughout the series, but is discovered in the first book as Ana is exploring her newfound sexuality and womanhood. At 18, I think it gave me a sense of confidence to know that despite Christian being seen as dominant, Ana herself finds a new part of who she is in her relationship with him that she did not necessarily think she would find.

After the first film release, I took a look back at the books to try to understand more of what lies behind the intentions of Christian Grey. Because his emotions and feelings came to life through an actor, I found a bit of a clearer understanding of what it is that makes him such a confusing man. These books go even deeper than just the romance or sexual connection.

Because of his past, he deals with issues in commitment and connections to the women he keeps around. All of this adds a lot of dimension to a book and its characters. Many females feel weird or uncomfortable reading these books or talking about them, but there is so much more than just sex. If you take all of the erotic content out, there is still a great amount of romance and a worthy storyline to follow.

With Valentines Day coming up, reading Fifty Shades of Grey can be a way of getting in the mood for a romantic night, but it can also be a part of a solo night at home with a glass of wine!

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