It's the fastest selling book of all time but a Northern Ireland cleric has called for people to toss aside the raunchy Fifty Shades of Grey — and pick up a Bible.
Dr David Clarke — formerly the Presbyterian Church’s Moderator for Ireland — has branded the racy read “rubbish”, adding those forking out for a copy are being “robbed”.
Earlier this month Fifty Shades of Grey became the best-selling book in the UK of all time, having sold more than 5.3 million copies, its publisher claimed.
The book is the first novel in a trilogy by EL James.
It follows the romance and sexual adventures of handsome billionaire businessman Christian Grey and innocent student Anastasia Steele.
Dubbed ‘mummy porn’, it has captured the imagination of millions of women around the world with its steamy bondage scenes. Author James says, however, that women have responded so strongly because it fundamentally is a love story.
Dr Clarke, who was the minister at Terrace Row Presbyterian Church in Coleraine but recently retired having preached for 31 years, says bookworms would be better off reaching for the Holy Book instead.
He said: “There is no worse robbery than a bad book. It is robbery of style for one thing.
“How can anyone develop a proper facility in any language without reading good examples?
“That’s one reason for avoiding Fifty Shades of Grey which all agree is abominably written trash.
“A bad book is robbery of time.
“The Good Book (Bible) does not rob but rather offers life.
“So toss away Fifty Shades of Grey and turn to the book that truly enriches.”
Dr Clarke does not have a copy of the book in his household and said that while he has never read the book, from what he has heard on good authority from those who have is that it belongs at the bottom of his rubbish bin.
Last month it was revealed Northern Ireland's libraries are struggling to keep abreast with the demand for Fifty Shades of Grey.
The queue to read it stood at an impressive 330 across the province, and Libraries NI was preparing to order more copies to keep up with the feverish demand.
Elsewhere, however, some libraries found their customers were nonplussed by the whips-and-handcuffs bestseller.
A number of customers quickly returned their copies to the library after discovering Fifty Shades Of Grey was not exactly the gently aphrodisiac novel they had anticipated.
A librarian in the west of the province said there was a lot of hype about the novel which is reported to have sparked an explosion in the sales of the sex toys it features.
“People are coming in and asking for it and some of them are not really aware of what they are asking for,” she said.
“There are people who you wouldn't really expect to be reading that type of stuff.
“The frontline staff were having a bit of a giggle about it. It's definitely taken the place by storm.
“They are expecting a baby boom after it, someone was saying.”
Another said customers had been caught out by the steamy content of the book.
“Everybody's talking about it, even people who don't read,” he said. “I've heard of another library where three people have returned it, saying it was nothing but pornography.”
London TV executive James is married to Newry screenwriter Niall Leonard, who she said inspired some of the sex scenes in the books.
Fifty Shades Of Grey began as an ebook inspired by the Twilight series and initially ran on a small print.
Hollywood has plans to adapt the story into a movie.