I’m planning to lock myself in a bookstore, any bookstore, overnight and re-shelve the books. Before you call the authorities, let me explain.
Most categories make sense: art, self-help, travel, reference. But what about the “Fiction and Literature” category? Isn’t that redundant? Or is there some fiction that’s not literature? Is it IL-literate, then? There’s some literature that’s not fiction, but aren’t those volumes across the aisle in Nonfiction?
While we’re at it, let’s think about the other bookcases. There’s one case, around the corner from “Fiction and Literature,” labeled “Mystery.”
Hmm. Is Mystery neither Fiction nor Literature? Confusing, isn’t it.
Mystery comes under the umbrella known informally as Genre Fiction, along with Romance, Western, and SciFi, to name a few. Mystery writers grumble about this seeming second-class citizenship in the world of books. We like to think we create engaging characters, interesting and complex stories, rich settings, and aesthetically pleasing turns of phrases. In other words, literature.
As a mystery writer myself, with 13 novels published, I often envision all the mysteries in a bookstore coming to life and entering into a criminal conspiracy. I picture them infiltrating the Fiction and Literature shelf, until they are seamlessly woven in with a Joyce Carol Oates, Ian McEwan, and Sue Miller.
Booksellers claim that identifying books in more specific categories makes it easier for readers to locate what they want. Heaven forbid a reader might pick up a book and realize that it’s slightly off the formula he or she is used to.
“Oh, no,” she’d say. “I wanted a mystery and I got fiction!” Bam! She’d throw down the book in an instant. So perhaps the categories are for the protection of book spines.
What do you think? Do you seek out a certain category of books or are you open to simply a good read? And by the way, I’m looking for recruits for my re-shelving project.
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Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer.
As Camille Minichino she’s published eight novels and a short story in the periodic table mystery series; as Margaret Grace, she’s published five novels in the miniature mystery series. Visit her website.
To comment for a chance to win on Margaret’s Blog please click here.