Fewer than 50 links about That Book

I read Fifty Shades of Grey. Hey, it was for my job! So I could discuss the most popular book in the nation with patrons! Nothing to do with dirty bits and kinky sexual practices. Honest!

And I'm afraid I'm late enough to this show that I don't have much say about the book that hasn't been said. No, it's not very well written. But neither, in my opinion, are many other bestselling works of fiction (I'm still waiting for the International Court of Literary Justice to convene and give me back the four hours I spent reading Angels & Demons). Mostly, it struck me as oddly retro, a throwback to the romances referred to these days as Old School -- of the Kathleen Woodiwiss/Rosemary Rogers 1970s-80s school. No rape scenes, thank God, but a lot of the touchstones were there. The heroine is virginal and insecure. The hero is dominant (literally, in this case), but tortured by his past, yet still able to recognize virginal heroine's stunning beauty when no one else had noticed. And also induce her to multiple orgasms the first time out. And like a lot of the older romances, it's epic in length -- three books at more than 500 pages each. And I feel confident that the vast majority of its readers understand this is a fantasy. Lots of us think of ourselves as insecure but goodhearted people -- and wouldn't it be nice if the one person who recognized our qualities was an incredibly goodlooking billionaire who flies his own helicopter and practices global philanthropy and is extremely good at sex, even if he has some serious issues -- that only you can help him get past? Like I said, fantasy. Just like vampires, dragons, elves and whatever that guy does in all those Clive Cussler novels that fly off the library shelves. (5/23 update: See last link below for an opposing view on this issue.)

So instead of opining further about the book or trying to diagnose the social factors behind its unlikely and astonishing success, I'll simply share a few links worth reading if you're curious.