E.L. James’ erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey first made headlines as a phenomenal best-seller, topping the Amazon.com, New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists at 3 million copies sold. Now, not surprisingly, the book is getting attention for a different and disturbing reason: censorship. The book has been removed from public libraries in Brevard County, Florida, reportedly because of its sexual content (some reviewers have dubbed Fifty Shades “mommy porn”). Despite overwhelming demand and long wait lists for library copies, some other libraries across the country are refusing to even acquire the book.
The NCAC wrote a letter to the Director of Library Services in Brevard County expressing our concern over the censorship of Fifty Shades of Grey. The letter and a statement regarding the incident can be found on NCAC.org.
Libraries certainly aren’t obligated to purchase every book ever printed and literary merit is a legitimate consideration before buying a book. But whether or not Fifty Shades is a classic work of literary genius that will stand the test of time, the Brevard County libraries thought the title worthwhile enough that they bought 19 copies. And they were removed because one or more adults decided that other adults shouldn’t be able to read sexual, explicit, titillating materials. What makes Fifty Shades any more objectionable than other erotic novels or romances held in the Brevard County libraries? Why shouldn’t adult patrons be able to access a text that is in such high demand? Such high demand, in fact, that roughly two-thousand people have the book on hold at the New York City public library.
If you’re interested in the book and its author, E.L. James is in New York City this week and will be reading from and discussing Fifty Shades of Grey at Barnes & Noble in Union Square on Thursday, May 10 at 7 p.m.