The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

May 24, 2012

'Fifty Shades' heating up summer reading

OTTUMWA — Since its recent release, the risque novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" has dominated best-seller lists and checkout counters at libraries across the country. That includes Ottumwa.

The story of a young woman entering into a torrid relationship with an older billionaire man has stirred national debate on whether the book and its two sequels are pornographic or classic erotic literature in the vein of D. H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's Lover."

Either way, the trilogy by English author E. L. James has touched a nerve with its mostly female audience, evoking a series of discussions of whether they will usher in a new era of female sexuality.

"Fifty Shades" has stirred so much controversy that many libraries across the country -- including some in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin -- have declined to carry it.

That's not the case in Ottumwa. Sonja Ferrell, the Ottumwa Public Library's director, said the library is having trouble keeping up with a demand that began even before the book shipped out.

"We do have all three of the books in the E.L. James trilogy, starting with "Fifty Shades of Grey," she said. "It has been very popular and has a lengthy hold list. Before it had shipped, we had many advance requests for it."

Having more copies isn't even a guarantee patrons can get their hands on the book. A New England consortium of 35 regional libraries said they possess 112 copies of the novel but there's a long list of people waiting to check them out once the book is returned.

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