culture

Bookstore Browse

books on shelves
Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

February 2021. I wandered through four bookstores to see how religious books were displayed, how Christian books showed up in those.

In one store I didn’t even have to get to the Religion/New Age/Metaphysical sections. A display in the entryway was all about palmistry, numerology, reiki. And those books were paired with books about meditation, calmness, and that spiritual favorite: how to be successful. Huh?

This display also featured a book on home remedies, which included information about herbs. Another store had a book that was about herbs plus crystals. Of course, there are nutrients in herbs—as God created them. Perhaps the combo is a subtle attempt to use legit herbs to give credibility to occult practice. What is the reader supposed to be thinking? Thank you, God (or Universe) for parsley! I’ll eat that while using this orange crystal to contact a spirit guide.

In one store, the Religion section did offer lots of Bibles. But the other books were mixed together—not separating Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc. Perhaps that’s because the area wasn’t large enough to officially subdivide? Whereas, in another area of that store, general nonfiction books on “self-transformation” and “personal growth” were so numerous, they each had their own designated subsections. In the Religion section of this store, I couldn’t locate Christian books for teens—though in other areas there was row after row of teen books related to success, self, video-game-like fantasy, and what we might classify as supernatural/hauntings. Do you see the emphasis on selfism and sorcery? Read more on that here.

Two stores separated spiritual materials into Religion and New Age/Metaphysical, and there was an end-cap display for each. But there was a bit of a jumble. The Religion display had Bibles, some fluffy Christian books (including a book on prayer with a cover photo of a Hindu worship pose), reincarnation books, and also a “Buddha Snow Globe.” Not much in the way of useful Christian books. The New Age/Metaphysical display offered books on astrology, tarot cards, aliens, vampires, dreams, and crystals, as expected—but also on guardian angels. A rack of “Ouija board socks” (yes, really) was sold out. The shelves within both sides had books on the Enneagram.

The non-Christian offerings looked exotic, with the Christian books looking bland by comparison. I wish someone would release Christian books that have strong titles, striking covers, and strong content—and bookstores could replace the shallow/iffy books with those. I’m imagining a title like Say Yes to God, Say No to Sorcery … or … Jesus Calling Already Called—Just Answer!

These aren’t Christian bookstores, I realize. But since they do have Bible shelves, I couldn’t help wishing that the Bible displays had a sign saying something like: “Got Problems? Here’s the Answer!” … or . . . “Manager’s note: We have to offer all these other books, but this is really the only one you need.”

 

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