TIME Books

10 ‘Yikes!’ Moments in the Fifty Shades Spinoff

Vintage

Ashley Ross is a writer and editor at TIME.

Reading notes from the newest addition to the sexy franchise

E.L. James’ latest addition to the bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey franchise is here, people. Now you can read the erotic origin story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey through Christian’s eyes, and also his, er, other things. The story is the one you know: boy meets girl, boy unlocks girl’s “inner goddess.” This time, though, Christian’s deepest motivations and tics are revealed, and the story extends chronologically beyond where the first Ana-told Fifty Shades left off. A little shy about reading it, but curious what everyone who isn’t shy will be talking about? Here are some of the most blush-inducing, “eek!”-eliciting and often cringeworthy moments in Grey.

1. James’ opening dedication
Even the book’s dedication goes heavy on the innuendo, addressed to the readers “who asked… and asked …and asked… and asked” for Christian’s perspective on the story. “You rock my world every day,” James writes.

2. Ana and Christian’s initial meeting
Grey’s thoughts during the newspaper interview during which they meet are too graphic for a family publication. When he notices that Ana is gazing at him, he thinks: “Yeah, yeah, baby, it’s just a face, and it’s only skin deep.”

3. The incessant lip biting
Ana must have read Wikihow: How to Bite Your Lip Seductively, because she is really good at it. Enough that it’s constantly referenced. His reaction to it, how he can’t take his eyes off it, how he yells at her to stop doing it, how she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. (Right.)

4. Christian’s utter desperation
Christian constantly yells at himself to “keep it together,” then sighs with relief when she shows interest, like, “I’m still in the game.” From her side, the head games read as enticing; from his, it reads more like a creepy obsession. And he’s not just mad she’s “disrespecting” the dominance he’s used to having—he’s self-conscious and frantic about her interest in him.

5. Christian treating Ana like a (bad) business deal
“Get it done, Grey,” he thinks, when trying to lock her down. “How am I going to close this deal?” he thinks at another point. He does ponder the idea of being in an actual relationship with her, no paperwork or contracts included, but never goes through with what he knows she wants or deserves.

6. The sex scenes (NSFW, even in words)
ie. “I want to give her a brief, chaste kiss, but as our lips touch, she leans in to me, her hands suddenly fisting in my hair, her mouth opening to me, her tongue insistent”
or
“Finally, she stiffens once more and whimpers.”
or
“I love that she loves this. I do as I’m asked and she moans again, throwing back her head, her hair tumbling in a riot over her shoulders.

7. Christian’s dreams
Hardly the stuff of fantasy, they’re sad, not sexy. He recounts these emotional nightmares to his therapist when he’s trying to sort through his “fifty shades of f—-d up.” The dreams tend to focus on beatings he took as a child, or abuse that he witnessed, and usually feature him as powerless to do anything about it.

8. Christian’s lack of respect for Ana
We know that he has feelings for her, he just can’t control them. Despite constant worry that she’ll leave, he still thinks of how fun it will be to train her. He gets upset when she refers to herself as an occasional sex partner, his thinking spiraling into anger, him thinking: “What the hell? How dare she talk about herself like that? As my submissive she’ll be so much more than that. I’ll be devoted to her. Does she not realize this?” Then there’s also his appreciation for her trying out his “Red Room of Pain:” “She’s not in tears,” he thinks. “She did as she was asked. She’s faced every challenge I’ve thrown at her; she really is quite remarkable.”

9. The writing. The writing. The writing.
Exhibit A: “My campaign to win her back is under way. I feel elated; the small blossom of hope is now a Japanese flowering cherry.”

10. His reaction to good sex
When it’s not cherry blossoms and goddesses, it’s “F–k,” “whoa” and “oh, yes.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Why J.K. Rowling Needs to Let Harry Potter Go

J. K. Rowling attends a charity event in London on Nov. 9, 2013.
Danny E. Martindale—Getty Images J. K. Rowling attends a charity event in London on Nov. 9, 2013.

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

What is there to speculate on if the author fills in the blanks for us?

xojane

Last February, mystery author Lynn Shepherd committed an unforgivable offense: she advised J.K. Rowling to stop writing. Her piece, titled “If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It,” chastised the children’s author for occupying the media’s attention with her post-Potter mystery novels, claiming her continued publishing efforts make it difficult for other, amateur writers to break into the industry.

The punishment was swift and scathing. Forbes writer Jerry Bowyer denounced the “second tier” writer’s “pathetic cry for relief” and her view that Rowling’s new writing projects threaten to occupy publishing’s limited “shelf space.” Interview with A Vampire author Anne Rice condemned Shepherd’s “vicious, cynical, [and] resentful” behavior. One blogger went so far as to call Shepherd’s piece “venomous”; another recommended that she seek a therapist, “or a priest, if that’s your thing.”

To say that Shepherd made Rowling the scapegoat for her own personal failings is not entirely inaccurate, but her argument can’t be completely discredited. While her claim that the Harry Potter series “[made] it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive” demonstrates a flawed understanding of the publishing industry, her suggestion that Rowling needs to let her beloved series die is correct, but for very different reasons.

Before I continue, I should preface my discussion by saying that I believe J.K. Rowling should never stop writing. A single mother who suffered bouts of clinical depression and survived on welfare for years before publishing her now famous series, Rowling used literature in a way that literature should be used: to inspire personal growth and happiness. I don’t believe her attempts to expand on Harry’s world pose a threat to new writers trying to break into the exclusive realm of “successful authors.” I cannot deny (nor do I want to) that Harry Potter has had an enormous impact on our society, on our kids’ imaginations, and on literature.

In fact, I resent Shepherd’s holier-than-thou opinion that adults should be reading more “grown up” books; her suggestion overlooks the potential the series has for dissolving the boundaries between young adult fiction and adult fiction, and eliminating the elitism that sometimes comes with the latter title. And I’m not saying we should torch our Harry Potter books and devote our precious reading time to authors who have learned how to pursue other projects.

Here’s what I am saying: the last Harry Potter novel was published eight years ago. The last movie was released four years ago. Since then, Rowling’s released three novels and a handful of short stories. Despite these successes, though, she continues to return to Hogwarts. And that’s where I see a problem.

Steven Spielberg once said that the key to Jaws’s success is not its visual effects but its reliance on the audience’s imagination: “Jaws is scary because of what you don’t see, not because of what you do. We need to bring the audience back into partnership with storytelling.” Our imagination is the most powerful tool we have. It’s the well that keeps creativity flowing. It’s what keeps the passion alive, in literature at least.

Withholding the details of Sirius Black and James Potter’s adolescence, for example, allows readers to speculate alternative narratives and create their own connections. It inspires discussion at book groups and encourages the exploration of character development.

In other words, it starts a conversation, which is the best thing any book or piece of art can do. Filling in all the details restricts that creative movement.

What is there to speculate on if the author fills in the blanks for us? Nobody wants to read an extensive biography of an imaginary character. That level of detail isn’t necessary or desirable. In fact, that lack of detail, those spaces between the lines, is what makes some stories so compelling. That’s what engages fans, that opportunity to devise an explanation for all of the stories left unsaid. We don’t want you to show us the shark; we want to imagine it ourselves.

To Ms. Rowling: Saying that it’s difficult to let go of something as massive and influential as Harry Potter would be an understatement. You not only reinvented young adult literature but you built a world that became a part of the national zeitgeist, spawning a film series, tourist destinations, and even a theme park. But you have to. You must. If you’re going to grow as a writer and as a person, you need to keep your eye on the future and not dwell on the past. You need to challenge yourself to create new places, new stories, and new ideas.

You’re allowed to be proud of your accomplishments; I’m not suggesting that you trash all of your Harry Potter memorabilia and “obliviate” your memories. Building up a kingdom that big just to knock it down is counterproductive. But I think you need to stop releasing Harry Potter short stories. You need to stop revealing obscure character details in cryptic tweets and writing prequels, sequels, and spinoffs. You need to kill your darlings, Ms. Rowling, if not for your fans, at least for yourself. Let us pick up where your imagination left off. Pack up your Hogwarts stories and move on; your fans can take it from here.

Tyler Vendetti wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

People Are Pre-Ordering the Fifty Shades Spin-Off Like Crazy

grey watchman

Grey is rivaling this summer's other big book release

E.L. James’ latest addition to the bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey series hits Kindles at midnight Thursday, and fans are going hard when it comes to pre-ordering. Grey will tell the story through the eyes of Christian Grey himself, offering a “fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers,” according to Amazon.

The online retailer’s latest data reveals that the book is the #1 Kindle pre-order of 2015. Meanwhile, Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s long-awaited follow up to 1960’s To Kill a Mockingbird, is the #1 print pre-order of the year.

It makes sense, of course, that Grey continues to lure digital fans. The erotic series has sold more than 125 million copies since its 2012 release, rivaling Harry Potter and Twilight. And it’s also no surprise the book is an e-bestseller as the series was initially self published online. It also didn’t hurt that readers could enjoy the book in public without advertising what they were actually reading.

Watchman has been a hot topic of debate, with some concerned that publishers were forcing 88-year-old Lee to release the manuscript. The book is set about 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, featuring many of the same characters, but specifically Scout and Atticus Finch.

Grey is out June 18 with Watchman set for a July 14 release.

TIME

The 17 Most Intriguing Weddings of All Time

From royal pairings and White House romances to naked nuptials and doggy "I do's," in the long history of matrimony, these are the ceremonies that take the cake

Simon & Schuster

If for some reason you don’t have a white folding chair awaiting you somewhere in this month of weddings, do not despair. For a nuptial fix, you can always revisit some of the greatest ceremonies that have taken place—in both history and fiction. After six years of researching marriage with my husband for the new anthology, The Marriage Book: Centuries of Advice, Inspiration, and Cautionary Tales, from Adam & Eve to Zoloft, I’m happy to report these ceremonies rise above all the rest.

  • Best Entrance

    In 2009, a bride named Jill Peterson and a groom named Kevin Heinz decided to replace the traditional Mendelssohn wedding march with “Forever” by Chris Brown. The result was the surprising, exuberant, wish-you-could-have-been there wedding-party romp down the aisle that’s become known in its video form as the JK Wedding Entrance Dance. With an estimated 3.5 million views in its first 48 hours, and another 80 million or so since then, the video was one of the first to go viral, and along the way it raised not only spirits but $50,000 in contributions to end domestic violence through the Sheila Wellstone Institute. And yes, Jill and Kevin are still married.

  • Best Double Wedding

    Chang and Eng With Their Families
    Corbis Chang and Eng, Siamese twins, pose with their wives and children in North Carolina in 1853.

    Chang and Eng Bunker were the conjoined brothers who gave the world the term “Siamese Twins.” Born near Bangkok, they emigrated to the United States in 1829 and, after touring as a lucrative attraction, settled down on a North Carolina farm. Their 1843 wedding—to the sisters Adelaide and Sarah Anne Yates—was widely decried as unnatural, but, despite the sisters’ growing antipathy toward one another, they stayed married to the twins. Prompting decades of prurient speculation, Chang and Adelaide had 11 children, and Eng and Sarah had 10.

  • Most Grudging

    Portrait of American abolitionist and women's rights activist Lucy Stone.
    Frederic Lewis—Getty Images American abolitionist and women's rights activist Lucy Stone

    In 1855, suffragist Lucy Stone insisted on keeping her name when she married abolitionist Henry Blackwell, and in the marriage contract that was read at their wedding, they gave voice both to their mutual devotion and to their shared rejection of the marital laws that deprived women of so much freedom and financial equality. Unitarian minister Thomas Wentworth Higginson presided over the ceremony, later calling traditional marriage “a system by which man and wife are one, and that one is the husband.”

  • Most Kitschy

    There have always been odd people, and there have always been publicity stunts. They combined in 1969—with an audience of 40 million viewers—when Herbert Khaury, a 37-year-old, frizzy-haired, falsetto-voiced ukulele player who called himself Tiny Tim married the 17-year-old “Miss Vicki” on the highest rated episode of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Thousands of tulips, celebrating the singer’s signature rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” adorned the stage.

  • Most Presidential

    Grover and Frances Folsom Cleveland
    Corbis President Grover Cleveland is featured with his new bride Frances Folsom in an 1886 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

    According to the White House historical association, the mansion has hosted 17 weddings. Boomers will recall those of Lynda Bird Johnson and Tricia Nixon, but the only president to be married there was Grover Cleveland. In 1886, the 49-year-old bachelor wed Frances Folsom, the beautiful 21-year-old daughter of his late law partner. The ceremony took place in the Blue Room. Music was provided by the Marine Band and the March King, John Philip Sousa, himself.

  • Largest

    Mass Wedding
    Yvonne Hemsey—Getty Images Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, marry 2,075 couples at a mass wedding July 1, 1982 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

    Sun Myung Moon founded the Unification Church in South Korea in 1954. Accounts of its controversial traits and its leadership’s corruption were frequent. Among its most eccentric practices have been mass marriage ceremonies, in which many of the participants were matched by Moon himself. (Moon died in 2012.) In 1982 a “Moonie” wedding of some 4,000 adherents attracted enormous attention when it was held in Madison Square Garden. In subsequent years, tens of thousands of couples would take part in such ceremonies, one of which was held as recently as March of this year, led by Moon’s widow.

  • Shortest

    General Tom Thumb alias, Charles Sherwood Stratton, US midget showman,and his wife in 1869.
    Popperfoto/Getty Images General Tom Thumb, also known as Charles Sherwood Stratton, and his wife Lavinia Warren in 1869.

    Connecticut-born Charles Sherwood Stratton stopped growing at the age of six months. Stratton was “discovered” at four by circus impresario P. T. Barnum, who promptly renamed him “General Tom Thumb,” claimed the boy was eleven, devised an act of dance, dramatic readings, and impersonation, and toured for years with him. Already world-famous, Tom Thumb became an unrivaled sensation when in 1863 he married Lavinia Warren, another Barnum find who was a few inches shorter. The wedding, which was staged by the showman, took place in Manhattan’s Grace Church and was followed by a reception attended by several thousand people, including the highest of New York’s high society.

  • Most Ridiculous

    AnimalFair.com Presents The Pet Wedding Of The Century At Jumeirah Essex House
    Cindy Ord—Getty Images The groom, Chilly Pasternak and the bride, Baby Hope Diamond attend AnimalFair.com Presents The Pet Wedding Of The Century at Jumeirah Essex House on July 12, 2012 in New York City.

    The idea was to raise awareness for the Humane Society of New York. The 2011 wedding, organized by author/reality star/animal activist Wendy Diamond, cost $270,000 in donations. Presided over by Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog, the ceremony married Diamond’s tiny dog, a Coton de Tulear (wearing a $4,000 dress) to a tie-dyed poodle named Chilly Pasternak, who had won an online contest.

  • Most Widicuwous

    In the stage directions for the shooting script of The Princess Bride, the character called “The Impressive Clergyman” is described as having “[a speech] impediment that would stop a clock.” Peter Cook’s pronouncements about “mawidge” and “wuv, twuuue wuv” during the wedding of Prince Humperdinck and “Pwincess Buttwercup” create a high point in a film that has no lows.

  • Most Anticipated

    DC Comics

    Fifty-eight years after Superman met Lois Lane, they finally married in DC Comics’ December 1996 Superman: The Wedding Album. Though there had been dream-sequence and hoax weddings in the comic books before (as well as marriages in movies and TV shows), this wedding was billed as “The Event of the Century” and featured a ceremony in which the priest was drawn to resemble Jerry Siegel, one of Superman’s co-creators, and the pews were filled with the many artists and writers who had brought the Man of Steel to life over the years.

  • Least Plausible

    "Love Actually"
    Universal Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley in Love Actually

    The film is Love Actually. The bride is played by Keira Knightley, the groom by Chiwetel Ejiofor. They’ve just gotten married in a small London church but somehow have failed to notice that among their guests are three trumpet players, two flutists, three trombonists, and two saxophonists, all of whom pop up from the pews to join a string section, a choir, and the late Lynden David Hall singing “All You Need Is Love.” How is that possible? Screenwriter and director Richard Curtis, actually.

  • Most Watched

    In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
    Anwar Hussein—WireImage/Getty Images Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles ride in a carriage after their wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral July 29, 1981 in London.

    If you were alive and awake on July 29, 1981, you were probably one of the 750 million viewers who watched the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. Over the next decades, there would be countless images of the couple—together and separately; in the classiest fashions; in the cheesiest tabloids. But arguably no image is more indelible than that of their departure from St. Paul’s Cathedral in a fairy-tale carriage and a puff of white taffeta.

  • Second Most Expensive

    The Reuben Foundation Adventure  In Wonderland Party
    Nick Harvey—WireImage/Getty Images Amit Bhatia and Vanisha Mittal attend the Reuben Foundation Adventure in Wonderland party in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital on Nov. 21, 2013 in London.

    Charles and Di take the cake, so to speak, for most expensive wedding. But right behind them are Vanisha Mittal (daughter of a steel magnate) and Amit Bhatia (British banker), who are said to have spent $60 million in 2005 on Paris nuptials that included invitations mailed in silver boxes, a pre-wedding dinner in the Tuileries, the ceremony itself in a 17th-century chateau, and fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.

  • Least Expensive Clothing Budget

    Gypsy Taub
    Eric Risberg—AP Gypsy Taub, left, places a ring on the finger of Jaymz Smith, right, during their nude wedding outside City Hall on Dec. 19, 2013, in San Francisco.

    The bride wore a veil. The groom wore a grin. In 2013, nude activists Gypsy Taub and Jaymz Smith were married, then fined, at San Francisco’s City Hall. Joining in the protest of the city’s anti-nudity law, some of the guests followed (non)suit and took their tops off. A mariachi band provided some dancing music until police ticketed the newlyweds and handed them some blankets.

  • Most Glamorous

    Amal and George Clooney
    People

    It had everything: clothes by Armani and De La Renta; backdrop by Venice; transportation by taxi boat; additional star power from Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Emily Blunt, and Bono; gift bags featuring iPods with a playlist selected by the happy couple. Everything was tasteful, smart, and beautiful, not least the bride (international lawyer Amal Alamuddin) and groom (actor/director George Clooney), who seemed equally radiant.

  • Most Awkward

    2015 A+E Networks Upfront - Arrivals
    Brad Barket—Getty Images Doug Hehner and Jamie Otis attend the 2015 A+E Networks Upfront on April 30, 2015 in New York City.

    So far, six couples have been chosen to participate in the sur-reality series Married at First Sight, in which four professional advisors match up sets of total strangers, who then meet and marry at the altar. Similar shows have taken place in Denmark and Australia. But nothing has topped, for sheer awkwardness, the spectacle of a former Bachelor and Bachelor Pad contestant named Jamie Otis freaking out at the mole-flecked appearance of Doug Hehner, the man she would nonetheless marry and—in the show’s spin-off sequel—remarry.

  • Most Magical

    Granted, they are fictional characters, and granted, they come from different fictional universes. But that didn’t stop author J. K. Rowling from suggesting Hogwarts’ headmaster Dumbledore and Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf as possible wedding partners after Ireland legalized same-sex marriage. A tweet from the Westboro Baptist Church that promised picketing ensued. Next, an answer from Rowling: “Alas, the sheer awesomeness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny bigoted minds out of your thick sloping skulls.” And finally, in a triumph of theatricality, two actors playing the great wizards were pronounced “husband and husband” in a ceremony at the Equality House in Topeka, Kansas—directly across the street from the church.

TIME Books

The Romantic True Story Behind James Joyce’s Bloomsday

Cover Credit: MARCEL MAUREL The Jan. 29, 1934, cover of TIME

June 16 was a meaningful day for the author

The day June 16, 1904, was a big one in the romantic life of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyces’ Ulysses, at least inside his head. In celebration of that day, and Bloom’s fictional perambulations around Dublin during the course of it, James Joyce fans mark the date each year as “Bloomsday.” It is, as TIME explained in 1982, “a sacred date on the calendar of all Joyceans.”

But for James Joyce, the action on that day was even more momentous and concrete. As TIME related in a 1959 story about the writer, that was one of the most important days in his life:

Precocious as a writer, Joyce was also precocious sociologically. He had his first sexual experience at the age of 14 with a prostitute on a riverbank. Some small taint of degradation kept clinging to his idea of sex—one of the many dramatic paradoxes in his life. He was a near-alcoholic; yet he pursued his writing craft with monastic austerity. He had the courage to face approaching blindness, eleven eye operations, and his daughter Lucia’s madness, but he ran from dogs and thunder. He renounced Roman Catholicism, but he could never rid his mind of the systems of Aquinas and Aristotle. He loathed and left his native land, yet his bitterness was inverted longing. Small wonder that Nora once told a friend: “You can’t imagine what it was like for me to be thrown into the life of this man.”

Joyce always liked to say that Nora Barnacle had come “sauntering” into his life out of the Dublin hotel where she worked as a waitress. The first day they went walking together was June 16, 1904, and Joyce always regarded it so romantically that he made it Bloomsday, the day everything happens in Ulysses. Nora had only a grammar school education, but when Joyce spouted his literary dreams to her and then declaimed: “Is there one who understands me?”, Nora understood enough to say yes. She eloped with him to the Continent (they were not married till 27 years later) and he swore to “try myself against the powers of the world.”

Joyce’s masterwork was published in Paris in 1922 and finally cleared for U.S. publication—after a long battle over whether it was obscene—in 1934.

Read TIME’s 1934 cover story about Ulysses, free of charge, here on Time.com: Ulysses Lands

TIME Books

John Green Apologizes for Using the ‘R-Word’ in Paper Towns

The YA author says he "won't use the word again in a book or elsewhere"

When a fan took to Twitter to chastise John Green for using the word “retarded” in his novel Paper Towns, the wildly popular YA novelist offered a mea culpa.

Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin Jacobsen, whose neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman goes missing after they share an adventurous all-nighter together. In the scene in question, a character says, “Sometimes he’s so retarded that he becomes kind of brilliant.”

The novel currently tops the New York Times Young Adult Best Sellers list, where it has spent 117 weeks. The film adaptation, starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, opens in theaters July 24.

TIME TIME View

Why It’s Risky to Be Risk-Averse

RISK/REWARD

Anne Kreamer is the author of It’s Always Personal, Going Gray and the new book Risk/Reward.

More than half of the U.S. wants to switch jobs—but they don't know how to leap

Most of us, optimistic or oblivious or both, launch into our working lives inadequately imagining the twists and turns we’ll encounter along the way. Plan B used to be something a rare few embraced at mid-career or, more often, in retirement. Once he finished school in the 1950s, my father worked at one job at one firm for the rest of his life, like so many other men of his generation. That’s the way we learned to think about careers in the 20th century.

But things have changed, at first slowly and then radically, and most of us have not adapted to the new normal. According to an ongoing longitudinal study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of 10,000 younger American baby boomers, people now in their 50s have on average held a half dozen jobs apiece since they were 25. For Gen-Xers and Milennials, the average is surely higher and rising. Given that one out of six manufacturing jobs and one of out of twelve sales and administrative jobs were eliminated in just a couple of years of the Great Recession, having a single, worst-case, Hail Mary Plan B is no longer enough. As all of us are thrown into a state of insecurity and chronic anxiety as jobs and whole industries are being eliminated and created at an astonishing and accelerating rate, we need to continually and permanently learn to tee up multiple Plan C’s again and again and again throughout the course of our working lives.

In the course of three national surveys I conducted with the global advertising agency JWT Thompson for my new book, I discovered that more than half of Americans, from all levels of the workforce, are thinking of changing not only their jobs but their careers. But of those who want to change, roughly 50%, have no clue how to start figuring out the next chapter. When the times are so intensely and perhaps permanently uncertain it feels safer to hold onto a job that’s only okay or even worse. But if you were to ask a veteran of the 90s recording or automobile or newspaper industries, for instance, if they wish they’d taken exploratory steps ahead of their pink slips, wouldn’t their answers would be yes?

In this new 21st century world, people have to develop a “risk practice” to become or stay professionally content and successful — meaning not 24/7 OMG anxiety and dithering, but calmly and perpetually considering and taking small and large career risks. These days, simply keeping your head down and hoping only to avoid risk is the riskiest strategy of all.

 

Anne Kreamer is the author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace, Going Gray: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters and the new book, Risk/Reward: Why Intelligent Leaps and Daring Choices Are the Best Career Moves You Can Make. She graduated from Harvard College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the writer Kurt Andersen.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Chip Kidd Judges 6 Books By Their Covers

The award-winning book designer picks some of his all-time favorites

If anyone knows how to judge a book by its cover, it’s Chip Kidd. The longtime Knopf graphic designer is behind countless iconic covers, including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, David Sedaris’ Naked and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, and has an eye for creating startling jackets to convey a book’s content.

“A good book jacket both invites you into the text and acts as a distillation of it,” Kidd says. “Then, during the course of your reading the book (especially if you like it), the cover becomes like a best friend’s favorite shirt.”

Kidd’s new book, Judge This, details how he takes in commonplace design details in his world throughout his day. TIME asked him to name five of his favorite classic book covers — plus one of his own.

  • Jaws

    Doubleday

    By Peter Benchley

    Designer: Paul Bacon

  • The Postman Always Rings Twice

    Knopf

    By James M. Cain

    Designer: Arthur Hawkins, Jr.

  • Charlotte’s Web

    Harper

    By E.B. White

    Designer: Garth Williams

  • Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

    Pantheon

    By Chris Ware

    Designer: Chris Ware

  • Detective Comics #27

    DC Comics

    By Bill Finger

    Art by Bob Kane

  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    Knopf

    By Haruki Murakami

    Designer: Chip Kidd

TIME Books

Who Killed Carrie Bradshaw?

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker and writer Candace Bushnell attend the opening night celebration of the New York City Ballet at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on November 25, 2008 in New York City.
Michael Loccisano—Getty Images Actress Sarah Jessica Parker and writer Candace Bushnell attend the opening night celebration of the New York City Ballet at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on November 25, 2008 in New York City.

'Sex and the City' creator Candace Bushnell's new novel shows what happens when writers regret their own creations

Pity poor Sarah Jessica Parker. Without doing anything but winning over America, she’s ended up caught in a tussle between the novelist Candace Bushnell and her legacy.

After all, Bushnell has, since the late 1990s, been most famous for something Parker did: Turning Carrie Bradshaw into a romantic heroine. Sex and the City, Bushnell’s 1994-96 New York Observer column and 1997 book about a clique of neurotic, messy abusers of substances and one another, centered around one Carrie Bradshaw, the worst of the lot. It was a scathing satire of fin de siècle life in the world’s most important, and most self-important, city, and Bradshaw’s pathologies, though understandable, were far from cute. The HBO adaptation began, too, as a pretty biting satire, but Parker’s winsome portrayal ended up turning Bradshaw into the sort of heroine that can inhabit the center of a profitable movie franchise and become something of a Zeitgeist unto herself.

Carrie Bradshaw as played by Parker was last seen in 2010, with the release of Sex and the City 2, a fairytale-like romp in the Middle East. That film grossed some $288 million worldwide, but had become unrecognizable, a cobbled-together Frankenstein in Louboutins. Though Big and Carrie stayed together, the enterprise had undergone a divorce from reality. Bushnell tried to regain control of her own creation in the past couple years with two young-adult novels about Carrie Bradshaw growing up in the 1980s. Even after writing a book about entirely different characters, Bushnell still seems preoccupied; her new book Killing Monica reads like a fairly unhappy comment about life in the shadow of one’s own creation.

While Bushnell has said that Killing Monica is entirely a work of fiction, it’s hard to believe that none of her real-life frustrations made it into the story of aspiring literary novelist Pandy Wallis, whose career is sidetracked by the popularity of actress SondraBeth Schnowzer playing Pandy’s “Monica” character. Schnowzer, a relative unknown who rises to stardom on the back of Monica while Pandy’s contributions are forgotten by opinion-makers, is drawn with plenty of fang but little finesse. She’s Pandy’s fair-weather friend—a creature of Hollywood so slim she refers to herself as a “racehorse,” a drama queen who so overidentifies with the Monica character that she steals it away from Pandy. Killing Monica is pugnacious from the early moment SondraBeth enters. What subtle differences from Parker exist in the book—SondraBeth is a newcomer, not a former child star, and she’s an object of tabloid fascination, unlike the reticent real-life star—they’re not enough to preclude the uncomfortable sense of walking into a family feud.

But whatever one thinks of the parallels between Schnowzer and Parker, this fight isn’t really about them. The real tension, unfortunate at best, comes from framing a character seemingly styled after Parker as the delusional thief of a writer’s intellectual property, rather than as an actress doing her job. After all, despite Bushnell’s apparent frustration at changing times and the rise of social media (called here “Instalife”), seasons change. So do cities. And so does any work of fiction as time goes by. A TV series as caustic as the original Sex and the City columns would never have survived. And it’s no accident that the tone of the HBO series significantly softened after Sept. 11, 2001; irony may not have been dead, just then, but it wasn’t culturally prevalent. Bushnell’s attempt, in Killing Monica, to litigate through fiction what happened to her creation only proves that the changes the show’s cast and contributors wrought may have been for the best, in terms of giving depth and longevity to Bushnell’s project and earning it a loyal TV and movie audience.

On that note, there’s good news: If you’re a Sex and the City fan, the book is intensely readable. Bushnell actually is something of a forgotten relic in the show’s origin story, and her depiction of an artist feeling both cut off from and constrained by her own creation is often compelling. But while Pandy plots outlandish schemes to free herself from Monica’s oppressive omnipresence, Bushnell’s path out could have been (and could still be) far simpler. “You want people to think you’re literary?” another character asks Pandy at one point. “Then be literary.” If the one story left for Bushnell to tell is dealing with the fallout from her first book, then the opportunity to write herself a new reputation is a chance she should have recognized.

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