I grew up enjoying frequent visits to the library. I was educated by some of the best high school teachers and college professors available to me. Proper grammar, correct punctuation and spelling, and strong word choice were lessons that were taught to me from an early age. I cannot remember a time when I did not own a dictionary and a thesaurus, in hardback copies no less.
I learned to read when I was a toddler and was reading at an advanced level by the time I entered public school. I had my own subscription to National Geographic when I just five-years-old. I exhausted the available supply of books in the elementary library by the fourth grade. The nearest bookstores were more than 50 miles away from my childhood home. My mother joined a book-of-the-month club to help keep me in reading material.
When I was 15-years-old and on winter break from school, I begged my mom to order a book by Diana Gabaldon called Outlander. I wanted to read this book because it took place in Scotland, which was one of many dream travel locations inspired by an issue of National Geographic a decade prior. My mom ordered the book, which contained explicit language and erotic scenes as well as strong words. I had to stop reading every few pages to use the dictionary. I devoured all 627 pages in less than three days.
Outlander was my first voyage into historic romance and erotic literature. I fell in love with how beautifully the book is written and how intellectual it is. From Outlander, I branched out into tawdry paperbacks featuring English dukes, European royalty, American cowboys, and, of course, more kilt-wearing Scots warriors. My mother bought me every book in the Outlander series in hardback because I loved that first book so much. I kept it and have reread it dozens of times. I enjoy reading these books because they allow my imagination to run wild. Fantasy can be a positive aspect of sexual health.
I could not find statistics concerning the number of women who read erotic literature. There is a waiting list at my local library for some of these books though, and it can take months before books are available for check out. At work, the women were all atwitter about a first book from a new erotic author. There was much talk and some scandal about this book due to its sexual subject material which focused on BDSM behaviors. One of my best female friends from college bought the book and read it while enjoying a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates. She was very impressed with her wine and chocolate choices, but said the book’s best use would be as kindling in a fire. I was puzzled by the contradiction of reviews: my co-workers were going gaga over the book and my best friend absolutely hated it. Against my friend’s advice, I borrowed a copy of 50 Shades of Grey from a co-worker.
By page 4, I was struggling not to scream out loud in exasperation that this was a finished book and not a copy for an editor to mull over with a package of red pens. I am not at all opposed to the BDSM subject material in 50 Shades of Grey. I am deeply opposed to how poorly the book is written. The lack of strong language bothered me. The author used the word “slate” at least a dozen times in four pages. I found myself looking up words in the thesaurus to substitute for the overly used words in the book.
Hollywood is giving us the movie version of 50 Shades of Grey while Starz is rolling out a two-season series of Outlander that has already started airing on Saturday nights. I watched the first episode of Outlander and am pleased to tell everyone the episode has the same tone, language, and beauty as the books it is based on. Now even men and women who don’t read erotic literature or historic romance can share in a strong storyline filled with well-developed characters. I consider it a bonus that most of the male cast members are wearing kilts for my viewing pleasure and for fuel for my future fantasies.