I like fantasy and science fiction. I just don’t like it when they’re all jumbled together. It’s like peas and mashed potatoes: they’re delicious alone, and yucky if you stir them up.
I had never given the issue much thought until I moved last year and started visiting a local used bookstore. My first clue was just inside the front door in the fiction section, which consists of three U-shaped shelves. Each U runs from A to Z. The first U seems to be women’s fiction. The second U is men’s fiction. The third U might be highfalutin’ fiction. It’s hard to say: all three are just labeled “fiction”.
If you’re a mystery reader in this store, you’d better like cozies. That’s all they have, and the mystery section runs from B to Z. That’s right, nobody whose last name begins with an A writes cozy mysteries. Did you know that?
The historical fiction has its own separate section. It’s divided into three groups: “Historical Fiction”, “Really Old Historical Fiction”, and “Westerns”. Yes, the sign actually says “Really Old Historical Fiction”.
There’s a nice big romance section. They must have a special employee come in to shelve the romances, because they are reasonably organized into historical, contemporary, and paranormal.
All of that – fiction, mysteries, historicals, and romances – is half the store. There is a divider, and then the entire other half of the store is science fiction and fantasy. Half the store and yet it is all one section, science fiction and fantasy mixed in together.
I’m so glad to have found a different bookstore across town that separates the peas and potatoes! Did I mention they have coffee, too? And a yarn store next door?
photo courtesy flickr user noodlepie