There's nothing wrong with reading erotic books on the train

Periwinkle Jones explores a very modern dilemma – what are the rules about reading erotic fiction on the train?

By Periwinkle Jones 15/06/2012 14:22

Woman reading a book

My daily commute has become a little more sweaty and uncomfortable than usual. No, it’s not due to the rush of pre-Olympic and post-Jubilee tourists flooding London’s already overcrowded underground: it’s because we’re all trying to covertly read Fifty Shades of Grey on the train.


For the uninitiated Fifty Shade of Grey is the first in a trilogy of books heralded as ‘mummy porn’ by the press. Starting its life as Twilight fan fiction, the books explore the sexual and romantic relationship between the naïve and virginal Anastasia Steele and the sexually domineering Christian Grey.


So far so Mills & Boon. But it’s not. Unlike other literary romp-fests Fifty Shade is genuinely un-put-down-able. Which heralds the dilemma: are we allowed to read it on the train?

I’d certainly feel uncomfortable in a carriage full of men reading about Keeley’s bare-chested views on Syria

You see, I’m in two minds about this: firstly, these books are designed to arouse and scintillate – in the same way as Page 3 – so shouldn’t we be keeping it behind closed doors? I’d certainly feel uncomfortable in a carriage full of men reading about Keeley’s bare-chested views on Syria.


You wouldn’t start watching clips from The Red Shoe diaries on a smartphone on your daily commute (or maybe you would… who am I to judge) so is getting hot under the collar over a book any different?


There’s also the very real danger that you’ll become so engrossed in your exploration of Christian’s playroom that you’ll miss your stop or that other passengers may mistake your panting for an asthma attack and pull the emergency cord.

By the time you get to book two and some interesting toys are introduced, you’ve given up caring


But on the other hand… It’s just a book. And there’s something delightful about seeing a Shades newbie trying to hide their copy beneath the latest issue of Good Housekeeping (by the time you get to book two and some interesting toys are introduced, you’ve given up caring), and sharing conspiratorial glances with other Grey-ers. 


The practical way around this is to get yourself a Kindle: it hides the front cover and if you pull a serious face (tip: try bringing down the inner corners of your eyebrows to meet your top lip) you can pretend that you’re reading Proust.


Your only concern then is stifling your blushes and muffled giggles when a man with a grey tie gets on.

What's your verdict? How do you feel if you see someone reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the train?

Periwinkle Jones has written for big name brands such as Cosmopolitan, Men's Health and Company both sides of the screen. Picked by Huffington Post as one of Twitter's funniest women she can most often be found there under the moniker @peachesanscream.


Follow Periwinkle Jones on Twitter @peachesanscream

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