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Conversations: Fifty Shades of Grey

By 17:00:00

Conversations is a brilliant, new fortnightly meme by Geraldine @ Corralling Books and Joan @ Fiddler Blue. Check the details and get involved!

The theme for April is Popular Issues, and the topic for this week is:
✱ Is 15 years old too young to be reading Fifty Shades of Grey? 

Hello my lovelies!
Today we're talking about Fifty Shades. Spoiler alert - I hate it.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Okay. So... As far as I'm concerned, no one should read it. Ever. I feel like I shouldn't be saying this because I haven't read it, but just talking about this book is making me uncomfortable! Why does it even exist?!

Let me tell you a story, though.

I had a flatmate two years ago who proudly announced that she hadn't read a thing since high school, but she'd found something amazing and had actually finished reading a book. Surprise, surprise - it was Fifty Shades of Grey.

I was in shock.

She knew I liked books so she asked if I'd read it and I kind of rudely answered, "NO. I will never, ever, read it. No." (I stand by my words, to this day.) I'm paraphrasing. I think I made a speech about the dangers of Fifty Shades.
So after all that, she asked me what kind of books I read.
I said, "Literature."

This was the end of what could have been a beautiful friendship, I'm sure. I feel a bit bad, because I try not to be a book snob [ - if you enjoy reading something, you should read it]! But when it comes to this particular book, dammit - I am a proud book snob, okay?

Kids' Reading Choices and Sex in Books

I've always felt that as much as we'd like to shelter our kids from sex and violence, it's important to let them read whatever they want - I know I read everything from children's books to adult literature when I was young - Stephen King gave me nightmares, Nora Roberts probably made me understand what sex actually was ( - or maybe that was Audrey Niffenegger's the Time Traveler's Wife?). I also think that if we tell a fifteen year-old not to read Fifty Shades, they will definitely go and read it.

Yes, I'm a bit worried that (especially younger) teenagers may not always be able to distinguish romance from sex - or might think that there's something realistic about Fifty Shades or the BDSM in it or the fictional sex lives of the characters. It makes me really worried for kids and their expectations regarding sex and what's normal and what's not. But at least when it comes to the book, our friendly/rebellious 'little' 15-year-old can stop if they realise it's making them uncomfortable. This is why I'd rather not control what kids read. I didn't do it for my younger sisters - I wouldn't do it for my own children if I had them. Kids are generally smart enough to stop reading if they don't like it. I'd like to trust them to make their own choices about it, especially at fifteen.

So ultimately, even though I'd prefer fifteen year-olds not to read Fifty Shades, I was reading Nora Roberts when I was nine. I can't judge. If a fifteen year-old feels like they are mature enough to read Fifty Shades, then they're allowed to go for it - as long as they know that in this case it's an option to stop reading the book and tear it into pieces whenever they'd like.
Okay guys. Fifty Shades: yes or no? What do you think - should a 15 year-old be able to read Fifty Shades of Grey?

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