Sunday, April 05, 2009
the upper room
A while back, Canada's most prominent Christian bookchain, Mitchell's, went bankrupt. With its departure, my vast metropolis was surprisingly stripped of a Christian book hub. Sure, there are the seminary bookstores and the theological bookstores but nothing quite like Mitchell's: a favourite escape laden with wingback chairs and a chance for a snuggle with a good book and a cup of coffee; friendly staff and a welcoming ambience.
Because I love to support "brick and mortar" franchises, I try hard to purchase as many books as possible at bookstores. Mitchells' demise has left me bereft somewhat and I have had to resort to online purchasing....
Luckily, I find myself in London, Ontario occasionally and a guest at The Upper Room: a midsized bookstore with friendly staff and a glance of what is new and hot in the fiction world.
Sure, they capitalize on the popularity of whatever is the latest buzz with large pyramids of "The Shack", but it is nice to walk into a bookstore wholly devoted to Christian books.
I went yesterday and was lucky to strike up a conversation with a salesperson whose tastes were very similar to my own.
We talked Cramer and Austin and when she told me about Charles Martin I was immediately intrigued. I had read in an interview that Dale Cramer reads Martin and thought he might be worth a peek ---- I am always looking for great fiction in the contemporary vein.
Unfortunately, due to some poor marketing which drills out his books looking like they stepped out of the Nicholas Sparks' cover factory, I had skipped him. Sometimes a savvy reader DOES judge a book by its cover: if the cover clearly defines the author as a comparative style to another ( like that guy whose books look like Tuesdays with Morrie .... cannot remember his name...another Christian....Dinner with a Perfect Stranger... or something like that).
I mentioned this to salesperson who assured me that Martin has scintillating prose. I purchased Chasing Fireflies and am about two-hundred pages and my whole heart and soul in. The writing is gorgeous! the characters are leaping off the page and each chapter- end wedges a lump in my throat.
You cannot always trust a bookseller: some will lead you off on mazes and trajectories that in no way, shape or form bear resemblance to what you crave.... but when you find a good one, strike up a conversation! --- make sure they know your likes and dislikes and allow them the credit of narrowing down a large and harrowing field to find your next favourite author.
p.s. I checked out Charles Martin and fortunately for my burgeoning infatuation, he has a wide backlist!