Wednesday, January 30, 2013

i dare you to read: mark reads 50 shades

  me: we should start by explaining the "I Dare You To Read" segment
2:56 PM Mark Perini: Okay so pretty much we are daring one another to read a book that we think is out of the normal scope of the other reader...For me I normally read Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Thrillers, or Classic Novels usually geared towards males
2:57 PM While Julie...
 me: normally reads ONLY Young Adult fiction. I can literally count on one hand the number of adult books I've read in the past 5 years.
2:58 PM When we hit 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% we chat about the book so far. Assuming we can even make it to those markers because the rule is, we can stop anytime we want to.
2:59 PM Mark Perini: Like that rule!
 me: Today, we're talking about the first 25% of the book I've dared Mark to read...50 Shades of Gray
 Mark Perini: DUN DUN DUN...
3:00 PM me: Is it Grey or Gray?
 Mark Perini: Grey
  Have you read this book?
  I forgot to ask
 me: Yes, I have.
3:01 PM Mark Perini: Okay let me just get my notes...
 me: you have notes? Lol
 Mark Perini: I kept notes just trying to be organized
  I didn't want to rant I wanted to have an argument...
 me: well you are the good student in this co-authorship
3:02 PM Mark Perini: lol trying I'm like Anastasia it's my first time...
 me: haha
3:03 PM Mark Perini: Okay so first of all as a male reader my nightmare is to open up a book and it starts with a girl getting ready...
  Already you've lost my attention...
3:04 PM me: It's not my favorite opening either.
3:05 PM Mark Perini: I think my main complaint so far is that none of the characters are believable...
  Especially Anastasia and she is the MC...
3:07 PM She's 21 and shes never held hands with anyone before? Or kissed anyone or gotten drunk? I don't believe it. I had a girlfriend when I was 3 years old and we held hands...granted that's all we ever did and drive around in my power-wheels but to me it's so not real life
3:10 PM me: lol...the Power wheels. My little brother had the motorcycle. He used to lift the lid on the seat and pee in it. He was 2 so...
3:11 PM Mark Perini: lol hahahaha dude's and their power-wheels lol
  I loved that red jeep wrangler
3:12 PM me: but you're so right about Anna's character. I could believe her inexperience if she was ugly, mentally ill or a victim of physical/sexual abuse as a child. But she's not...
 Mark Perini: exactly
  I agree
3:13 PM maybe she has some self esteem issue's maybe she has some general body issues but I don't trace self loathing or mental illness anywhere
3:14 PM She just kind of frustrates me she's way too naive
3:15 PM me: I'd even go as far as to say, stupid. Actually that's what my grandmother thought of her.
3:16 PM Mark Perini: I mean just so not believable at 21 living away from home for four years you get to know yourself and the world around you, your forced to grow up it happens to everyone
3:17 PM me: and there is nothing wrong with writing a stupid character, but you can't write a stupid character and give them a happy childhood, intelligent parents and a college degree. Well...unless it's Forest Gump
3:18 PM Mark Perini: yeah I agree. but I think she wasn't meant to be stupid she's well read and she has an awesome vocabulary so it just doesn't add up...
3:19 PM I love Forest Gump by the way
 me: exactly. not believable and inconsistent. big writing mistake, IMO
  okay, what else is in your notes?
3:20 PM Mark Perini: Mr. Grey is a stalker...and a domineering control freak that is praying on a baby lamb...(as she's written)
3:21 PM It's horrifying to read
  one of his quotes as they are talking early on in the book is "If you were mine you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday"
3:24 PM me: so i take it Mr. Grey isn't your type either? it's obvious Anastasia isn't...
 Mark Perini: to me he's using her innocence and I think it's boarder line psychotic
3:26 PM me: agreed. But....given the fact that some people actually intentionally get off (literally) on the whole submissive/dominant thing, does that make it possible for you to see his side? that women actually agree to be beaten by him
3:28 PM Mark Perini: I suppose I get it and that's not my cup of tea and I know nothing about S&M...but if she has never had any kind of sexual past no kissing, no hand holding nothing then I just don't think she can make an informed decision about this...It feels like shes being manipulated
3:29 PM that's my issue...if people choose that life and they like it go right ahead I don't think there is anything wrong with it because you decided for yourself
  this isn't that though she doesn't have anything to base it off...
3:31 PM me: yeah, I don't know anything about S&M either. Had to Google a lot of words, but in all honesty, he does try to warn her and push her away on several occasions but she keeps at it...
3:32 PM Mark Perini: I don't know. I agree he does try and tell her not too but in the same breath he's giving her 15 thousand dollars in first edition books or buying her a car it's like don't do this but I love you and you've never felt love before...
3:33 PM It's a bit beauty and the beast I suppose
  and I hadn't thought about that till now...
3:35 PM me: I'm with you in saying it's horrible and he's horrible, I'm just trying to get some help in figuring out if I can really call it wrong since there is a fiction genre for this type of book and an audience that frequently reads BDSM books but this series is gathering much more than that audience....
3:36 PM maybe we should save that question for when you finish (if you finish)
3:37 PM Mark Perini: lol yeah I mean like I said shes a consenting adult but I guess I see her as an innocent youth...because of her lack of life experience...
  Shit now I sound like Holden Caulfield
3:41 PM me: I love Holden. But yeah, you're right. He's preying on her in a lot of ways but yet I kept thinking she was so stupid for not walking away. What else?
  What about the S-E-X? Is there any in the first 25%?
3:42 PM just checked...there is...
3:44 PM Mark Perini: It all felt a bit pornographic to me...Maybe it's because I don't believe it
  I don't buy into the characters so I don't buy into any of doesn't feel real
3:45 PM me: I found myself laughing out loud and cringing a few times while reading those scenes. Not sure that's the reaction I should be having.
3:46 PM Mark Perini: hahahaha
  I agree
  It's so over the top the whole thing and at one point after they have sex he is outside playing a sad classical tune on his piano because he can't sleep..REALLY what are you Dracula?
3:48 PM me: I know. Why can't he just be up late watching ESPN or something?
 Mark Perini: lol exactly. I just don't buy it I guess...
3:50 PM me: any specific quotes from the dirty scenes that rang untrue from your male perspective? Also, we need to put the "mature content" warning at the beg. of this blog post
3:51 PM Mark Perini: yeah absolutely...
3:52 PM I don't know it feels really wrong when he calls her baby. I don't know why feels really forced and awkward
3:53 PM me: I rarely write any of my characters using terms of endearment such as baby so that's always a thing with me.
 Mark Perini: but also there is this undertone the whole time of like please sign the contract
  to be my sex slave
  and use the red room of pain with me
  the whole thing is freaking weird
3:54 PM Like I said before I'm fine with love and sappiness if it seems real and it's believable
3:55 PM me: and why make such a big deal out of the contract if you're just going to do it with her anyway?
 Mark Perini: yeah exactly and it's non binding?
3:56 PM I don't know. the whole thing is strange to me...I think the reason this book did so well is because it's a world that no one lives in that people can get taken away to a new world that resembles ours...I get that
3:57 PM but it's just a little too much for me...
3:59 PM me: maybe women want to fantasize about being virgins again yet having an oddly dirty mind for someone who hasn't even seen 2nd base...?
4:01 PM Mark Perini: lol yeah it sounds crazy but that's what this book is...
4:03 PM me: I'm honestly curious to find statistics on this. But feel free to stay silent on this issue. I have 3 children so I don't even have the ability to give the illusion of virginity.
4:05 PM Mark Perini: Do you think that's it or is it about people who want to be taken to another life while they are reading
4:07 PM me: that could be it...but based on the audience it seems to be picking up, I don't think it's just women who want to read about sex. Despite what people say, it can't just be about that or else actual porn and such would have a bigger audience
4:08 PM Mark Perini: but maybe because this was so huge there was less of a social stigmata with it porn still has a stigma associated with it
4:09 PM and of course this does too but clearly the barriers to entry in terms of stigmata were pretty low
4:14 PM me: that's true actually. Now that you mention it...all the dance moms and soccer moms love to talk 50 Shades and since I have a friend who writes BDSM erotic romance, I figured I'd give her a little mention. She's a fantastic writer.
4:15 PM anyway, all the moms were like, no way, I don't read BDSM stuff. and I was like, "but you like 50 Shades..?" and they were all insistent that it's so much more than a trashy romance. Why? cause there's a tie on the cover instead of a half-naked couple embracing?
4:16 PM Mark Perini: lol hahahahah I mean it's exactly that: a trashy BDSM book
  with some romance
  and some naivety*
4:21 PM me: but oddly, it's not even a good BDSM. There's ones, for those that like that genre, that actually have a good plot and believable characters who happen to be into all kinds of kink in addition to their regular life.
4:23 PM Mark Perini: yeah and that's the issue is the character development is totally lacking...but there has to be some element that made this one in particular so much of a fad...Some tipping point...Maybe it was simply the right, cool book club read it and gave it to all their friends that give it to all their friends and so on and so forth
  that's all it takes
4:26 PM me: I think for women, it's kind of brainless reading. Requires little thought or focus and it's easy to get swept up in the drama. And many women go years without reading a when your kids are little. I did this too. And often it's been Twilight or 50 Shades that becomes the first book they read in years
  so it's kinda like a gateway drug but a gateway book...same thing happened to me but it was Harry Potter that I picked up after years of not being able to read
4:28 PM Mark Perini: yeah maybe it was all about timing it's probably a lot of factors all coupled together to make this super fad that's continuing on...
 me: I've been trying to finish the second book since June. Only at 40%
4:29 PM but I read the first one quick. In a day or two. But I didn't like it.
4:32 PM ok, so I'm re-reading/skimming some of the first sex scene and for a girl who has kissed two people in her life, she's way too comfortable with Christian "pressing his erection against her leg" that's not believable at all imo, anyway
4:33 PM there's no fumbling, doubt, nerves....nothing of a typical first time
 Mark Perini: hahaha exactly
4:34 PM it's like she just gets it from the beginning but everything she says is to the contrary she falls into his office at first but then she is in a high pressure highly sexual encounter and she's cool as ice
4:36 PM me: yeah, I know. And in the sentence following the erection pressing or whatever, she mentions not understanding her feelings, "is it hormones?" like she's so out of her element and was never a sexually charged being until the moment she met Christian Grey.
 Mark Perini: hahahaha I know I don't get it at all
4:37 PM she should be just as clumsy
  as before and just as fumbling
4:38 PM me: especially if it's supposed to be Twilight fan-fiction...she needs to get her klutzy self on.
 Mark Perini: exactly
4:39 PM for me I like sci fi and fantasy but I like my characters grounded in real human emotions/traits
  if the worlds crazy then the characters have to be grounded if the worlds normal then it's okay if the characters are a little crazy but there has to be a balance
  same in improv
4:40 PM me: that makes sense.
4:41 PM and I agree. I only like to read sex in books if it's justified and serves an important purpose. The description even needs to be justified.
 Mark Perini: I agree...
4:42 PM I think it needs to feel like it needs to happen because that's how it is in real life
4:43 PM me: so are you going to be able to read on? at least to 50%?
 Mark Perini: To be honest it's painful I think I'm done...I don't think there
  's much surprise left
4:44 PM me: well you are totally allowed to quit anytime and I kinda wish I would have quit at 25% to be honest.
4:45 PM Mark Perini: lol I think I've seen all I need to see...
 me: you've been very brave.
 Mark Perini: I hate to quit
4:46 PM but I think I fulfilled my quest
4:47 PM me: it's not about finishing. It's about discovery and exploration. Like the red room of pain  So, there you have it, I Dare You To Read 50 Shades of Grey will not have part two but I completely support Mark in his decision to stop reading. However, if you disagree and think he should read on, feel free to let us know in the comment section.


  1. Great post today. I haven't read 50 Shades (mainly because of listening to other authors I respect talk about the writing/story not actually being that good). Many of my friends that don't read at all read 50 Shades becasue everyone else was. I have read just two other BDSM books and both of them had a good plot, with well developed (and experienced) adult characters. They are not my regular thing but I wanted to understand this whole BDSM hype thing by an author I actually knew I would like reading. They were entertaining, but they can't replace my contemp romance or romantic suspense loves. Give me a navy SEAL with a gun or CIA agent saving the world (sometimes with his woman) any day over the BDSM thing. Love your posts as usual. :)

    1. Amy, have you read Roni Loren's books yet? Her newest called FALL INTO YOU is my favorite so far. Stars an ex-CIA and a girl reporter with someone after her, willing to kill to keep her from writer a story.

    2. No, I haven't read her books yet, but I would like to. I see them around and hear her name!

  2. Mark--and Julie,
    Great interview!! Honest and refreshing concept. And I so agree with Mark. Heard enough from other friends/authors who read (or tried to) and said Fifty Shades is more ways than one. Good for you, Mark, to say enough's enough and give logical reasons why. Bad is bad no matter how many copies sell. A bit discouraging, tho, as an author to know people are reading this when there are so many worthwhile books out there being ignored. Nothing against erotica (tho it's not my thing)as long as it's well-written and believable.

    1. I completely understand, and I agree with you Diane. I just think there are so many better books out there that could be read way before reading 50 Shades of Grey. However, having said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and decisions, this is my opinion. I just hope that people are reading for the right reasons not just because everyone else is reading it.

    2. the one positive that I can't deny with 50 Shades is that I think what happens in many cases is this becomes the first book people have read in long time. Once they finish, they looking for another title to check out. So, in a way, it's become a gateway book that's led people to much better stuff.

      It's kind of like Chinese food. Some people freak out at the mere mention of Asian cuisine. They could never like something so...unusual. Then, while strolling around the mall, they're offered up an orange chicken sample from the Panda Express dude. Before you know it, they're heading over to Panda for lunch and ingesting an entire meal of Asian cuisine. After that, they may willingly walk into a real Chinese restaurant and after realizing the absence of sugar coated orange chicken they bravely choose something new...

      and so the adventures begin.

      Or at least that's the fairy tale I tell myself so I don't go insane wondering what's wrong with people.