ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS…

12.23.12

Last year I made a New Year’s resolution, not to lose weight or get healthy like usual, but to read more. I love to read but for whatever reason it is something that always seems to get pushed to the bottom of my to do list, this year however, I made a concerted effort to change that bad habit. Did I dive head first into all the classics that I’ve never taken time to read? No… Did I read biographies and learn about the lives of great men and women? No… So what exactly did I read this year? What captures the “2012 Favorite Things” title in the category of books? Ok ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, buckle your seat belts because this will be a very interesting revelation. I am going to reveal something about myself that may surprise many of you, something that some of you may already know, something that will garner disdain and many outrageous opinions I am sure. I have kept my thoughts, which are many, about this one particular thing to myself for way to long. Here we go, time to come out of the closet… ummm yeah not like that… I am one of the millions of women, and some men, who devoured every word of the “Fifty Shades” series this year… Twice! Please hold your laughter, judgement and eye rolling for the end of this blog, I also ask that you please open your mind to what I have to say about the subject starting now…

I think it is safe to say that this book series is a once in a lifetime phenomenon for any author. I am pretty sure that E.L. James would agree as she has gone from an Internet fan fiction writer, to a self published ebook author and onto being named “Publishing Person of the Year” by Publishers Weekly in the matter of a few short years. Millions of copies have been sold since the first “Fifty Shades of Grey” ebook publication in 2011 and even if you haven’t read it yourself, chances are you’ve heard about it through the grapevine. The grapevine is exactly how I came to read the series which is certainly out of my usual literary genre. Everyone on television and radio seemed to be talking about these salacious books, judgmental rants were circulating on Facebook daily about their immoral content, even my sisters friends were talking about the words that lie between the mysteriously dark covers and that meant only one thing; I had to read them! If curiosity ever killed a cat, then I am dead one thousand times over, one personality flaw I cannot deny is the need to know things, and I needed to know what all the fuss was about when it came to “Fifty Shades”…

Now I will admit that I am not a fast reader, unless of course I’m reading something that grabs my attention, when that happens I am a beast in the speed reader department. Needless to say I read all three books in the “Fifty Shades” series in about two weeks and while there is quite a bit of lascivious content within, this was not what kept me turning the pages. If you haven’t read the books, my guess is that you probably think it is nothing more than 1000 pages of explicit sexual dialogue, it is not. There is plenty of that and it has it’s place, but that is not what drives the story. While James has received endless criticism for her less than perfect writing style, the woman can certainly tell a story that sucks you in and keeps you hanging through every chapter until the very end. The “Fifty Shades” trilogy revolves around the rather unusual love story which takes place between Ana Steele, a young, naive college student and Christian Grey, a wealthy and powerful business tycoon. Without actually reading the books it’s hard to digest a lot of what you’ve probably heard takes place within the pages, it’s certainly not your typical Danielle Steele romance, but I’ll attempt to explain my thoughts on why I think most women find this story so intriguing. My theory is this: Every woman, no matter how strong, modern and independent she may be, wants to be loved, cared for and protected to some degree. I’m not talking about the kind of “love” that I often see, you know the “Hey you’re cute and nice enough, kinda funny and tolerable, age appropriate and acceptable, ok I’ll marry you” kind of “love”. Women, deep down, want to know that the guy they are with would do anything to be with them, move heaven and earth to make sure they were happy, rearrange their entire life just to make you theirs. That is exactly what Christian does for Ana and why I believe women are so drawn into this story. Likewise, I believe that every woman can see a little of themselves in Ana, she considers herself an average girl, plain looking and she often questions what the stunning Mr. Grey sees in her… And really, what woman couldn’t sympathize with that line of thinking? I mean really, if a beautiful and wealthy man sauntered into my life, introduced me to his dark and mysterious lifestyle and then offered to turn his world completely upside down simply because he thought the sun rose and set on me and he couldn’t live without me, well I’d personally wonder what kind of drugs he was dabbling in myself… And on another note, for those men who have read the series, I think it’s safe to say that most guys would be equally grateful to find a woman who accepts them completely and sticks around despite their tragic past and extensive personality flaws, loving them in spite of every obstacle. Everyone wants to feel that kind of love and that is why I believe E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades” trilogy has been such huge a phenomenon, not solely because of the adventurous sexual situations, but because of the emotions that lie just beneath the surface of pleasure and pain.

I know that a lot of people have expressed some pretty strong feelings concerning this series of books and it’s contents… Many proclaiming that they didn’t “need” to read books about fictional characters because they were happily married and satisfied, some suggesting that reading the series would somehow aide in destroying marriages and families, and even implying that by my reading these books it somehow made me less “Christian”. To those people I say, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, my opinion just happens to be that if a book with an unusual perspective on love and sex somehow affects your faith or destroys your marriage and tears your family apart, it obviously was not very strong to begin with and the books are not to blame. And, if you are truly happy in your relationship and aren’t interested in having a little fun via fiction then more power to ya! All I ask is that you “don’t knock it before you try it” and don’t judge me for satisfying my curiosity about a fictional novel, that does not in fact make me a bad person…

For those of you not I interested in “Fifty Shades” I do have a lighter reading recommendation… Earlier this year I heard about the book “Angels & Idols” via twitter. Again, out of curiosity, I downloaded the book onto my kindle app not knowing what the book was really all about. I quickly became engrossed in the story of Reggie Hamm, a Nashville musician and song writer, and his family’s struggle with adoption and disease. The story follows Hamm through his professional rise and fall, all the way to China for the adoption of his baby girl and the search for answers about her condition that changed their lives forever. Throughout the book Hamm struggles with his faith and the circumstances that continue to mount against his family. This was another book that I quickly devoured, mainly because I wanted the answers about the disease plaguing baby Bella about as badly as her parents. Hamm has a way of drawing you into their story and making you feel fully vested in it’s outcome as if you are one of the family. Another reason I was so completely drawn into this story is the series of “random coincidences” that prevail throughout Hamm’s life. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as coincidence, and even when I don’t like the course of events, I believe everything happens in devine order… The picture that Hamm paints of his life only reaffirms that every single thing happens for a reason, no matter how big or small everything serves a purpose, you are always exactly where you are meant to be in this journey we call life. Mr. Hamm’s story is inspirational and it came at a time when I needed reassurance that everything would work out as it should, it served that purpose fully and for that I am thankful. I hope you all will check out “Angels & Idols” and enjoy it just as much as I did, hopefully it will bring you the same message of hope that I received…

Since the first of today “favorite things” has been both wildly popular and controversial I am giving today’s lucky winner a choice between these two books as their prize. If you’ve already read “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James or simply don’t want to give it a try you can choose to receive in it’s place “Angels & Idols” by Reggie Hamm for your reading pleasure. And that lucky winner is Mindy Reyes!

Congratulations Mindy! I hope you enjoy your reading selection… Check back tomorrow for more prizes, you could be the lucky winner!!!

For more information on these books and the authors please visit the sites listed below:
www.eljamesauthor.com

www.regiehamm.com