Meanwhile, in Classics…..

book of snobsWe installed the Second Story Cafe in our bookstore just over a year ago, and making that possible meant moving things around. Among the stuff that shifted in The Great Upheaval were the Classics, Art, Theatre, and Writing books. They all went upstairs to the place formerly known as “Jack and Wendy’s bedroom,” and spread themselves about in a dignified manner as we tore the rest of upstairs apart, getting the dining room and kitchen set up on either side of them.

Which means they are now isolated up there, poor things, all alone, a little island of thought in a sea of food.

Me being me, I worried. “What if we don’t sell as many? We always sold a lot of Classics before, and now they’ll be the only books up there, isolated, unable to socialize with the other genres ….”

“Steady on, dear!” Jack said. “They’re books, remember? They aren’t living things that think; they provoke thought in living things.”

Jack says our Classics sales may actually have increased since they moved up the stairs. “Perhaps they’ve moved up the ladder as well, getting noticed more.”

Me, I’m thinking that the sweet little students in scruffy hats, and the happy retirees in scruffy coats,  who used to buy our Classics don’t eat out much, but maybe when they do, they favor soup. Our Good Chef Kelley makes three soups every day, and I see a lot of the Barricade Brigade up there, not even removing their fingerless gloves as they enjoy soup in the garret while reading Les Miserables.

Come to think of it, I suppose the Classics do feel at home in their new quarters Certainly they no longer have to mix with the riffraff down on the shop’s main floor–the cheap science fiction tramps in beat-up paperbacks; the lurid thriller covers of horror; the demure looking girls, long lashes resting against cheeks as eyes cast down, gracing the covers of the Amish romances.

God save us from the Amish romances…..

No, really, I worried unnecessarily about the “isolation” of Classics upstairs. They’ve been waiting all their life for A Room of Their Own.

They never wanted to socialize with the other genres anyway. Snobs.

Curse you, Christian Fiction!

Those of you who run bookstores will understand whereof I speak. You will laugh knowingly at this question.


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.