Those of you who run bookstores will understand whereof I speak. You will laugh knowingly at this question.
WHY THE HELL ARE THE CHRISTIAN FICTION SHELVES ALWAYS DISORGANIZED?
The people who shop Christian fiction tend to fall into a certain demographic: female, circling retirement age on one side or the other, sweet, watching their pennies, and looking for the latest of some series. I’m waiting for the day when a writer realizes the market for Christian Amish fantasy space exploration novels is still wide open.
Don’t get me wrong; I read Christian fiction, some for enjoyment, some for sarcasm factor. C. S. Lewis changed my life, but I’ve also enjoyed an occasional aga saga (that’s a British term for a domestic novel) here and there. We’ll not talk about the Left Behind series; observation suggests that opening such a dialogue is the fastest way to start a fist fight at a church’s fellowship supper.
But it is not so much the writing as the selling of them that I now query: if the customers are sensible, quiet, gentle people, then why are these bookshelves so eternally … untidy? As in the B’s are visiting the Q’s and the pocket romances are sliding behind the Gilbert Morrises? (And that’s a BIG space to hide behind; he’s got his kids writing now, sigh.)
One night I spent two hours re-alphabetizing, stacking, assigning “this far and no farther shall your boundaries be” spaces to Okes, Morrises, and Dekkers, feeling vaguely Genesis 1 about the whole thing as I parsed into order what had already been created.
I went to bed with those books lined up straight and tall as soldiers in the army of the Lord (not the Joseph Kony one). A few days later I brought a stack of new acquisitions over to shelve, and it looked as though someone had taken a leaf blower to the place. Bs and Q’s openly fraternizing, pocket romances hanging with Copeland westerns…..
I glanced suspiciously at a mother-daughter combo, Mom a dignified woman bent with age in a twin sweater set, saying “read that one” as her daughter, blond highlighted hair sculpted into perfect little “I am a teacher” waves, moved a stack of books from her arms one by one back onto the shelves.
Willy-nilly, in random order. They looked up and smiled at me in a friendly way before returning to their task.
It’s enough to make a bookslinger lose faith.