I got out of bed. He was right, there wasn't much of a difference. And I wasn't sure what was more embarrassing: that I was reading such a smutty book, that I was reading such a badly written book, or that I was still so immature that I couldn't put down a page-turner.
At least it had been a Friday night when I opened the book and read half of it before retiring for the night. Our book editor friend was right: "It's the worst book I couldn't put down."
Even the origin of the book is kind of embarrassing: a middle-aged woman wrote a story called Masters of the Universe using the main characters from Twilight (vampire Edward Cullen and teenager Bella Swan) on a fan fiction website. Didn't know there was such a thing as fan fiction? No, neither did I. After complaints it was too explicit (and because of its growing popularity), she moved it to her own website, then changed the characters' names to Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, and signed up with an on-demand publisher in Australia. Now publishing powerhouse, Vintage, has reissued it, and it's selling out everywhere.
The story follows the relationship of a 22-year-old university graduate and a 27-year-old self-made billionaire, who also happens to be about the hottest thing to land in the Pacific Northwest (where the story takes place). After an exceptionally rough start to life (followed by an adoption by lovely people, and then a six-year BDSM relationship with one of his adopted mother's friends), he blossoms into a ridiculously successful control freak. But, of course, our lovely Anastasia wants more out of a relationship, and we're all just hoping she can see him through this crazy fetish. (Of course she'll be able to, come on. The last of the three books is called 50 Shades Freed.)
The second night, I was able to put the book down after two hours. The third night, after 45 minutes. As I approach the third night, the novelty has worn off (along with much of the sexual tension). But I'm still going to read it, and I'll skim through the second two books in the coming weeks. And I'll probably see the movie when it comes out.
But it won't change the fact that it's embarrassing on all fronts. There's a reason erotica sales have gone sky high since e-readers came on the scene: at least you don't have to be embarrassed in front of anyone but yourself.