Things I learned at Borders.

Sounds like a pretty mundane day — do the 9-to-5 job thing, head to Borders on my lunch break to scope out the next book I’ll fall in love with and claim is the best I’ve ever read. (I do that.) But, have you, ah, been in a Borders lately? No, you say? I suggest you go, especially if you are a reader of this blog. Why? Paranormal pop culture has taken over the bookstore.

Every other table is brimming with para-lore: vampires, dragons, monsters, ghosts, witches. It’s absurd! My eyes were big as (flying) saucers the minute I stepped in the door. Edward Cullen bookbags, True Blood posters, troll dolls, the whole shebang. Of course, I ate it up. But I thought: what about all these other people? So I thought I’d do a case study. My victim: A 40-something woman in scrubs I found lingering around the Jodi Piccoult section, the antithesis to para-anything.

She wandered from Piccoult to Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed to the “newest” Jane Austen-angled modern rom-com, this one with cover art so trite I didn’t even bother to get closer to make a note … that and the fact that she was casting me sidelong glances, most likely wondering why I was following her.

I lost interest, and lost her, until I saw some blue-on-blue streak across the floor and make a beeline to the vamp table. I clicked a pic (above) of the sign that lured her (first-name basis? Jealous). She eventually went with a Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novel — Dead Until Dark. I casually asked her if she watched True Blood or read Twilight, but the answer was no to both. So why did she pick this particular book? “All I hear about lately is vampires.”

What a world, huh? Vampires and their ilk have infiltrated our lives. They’re our dinner guests, our chitchat over coffee. How weird is that? In addition to the vampire books, I saw quite a few people walk away with A. Lee Martinez’s Monster, about a quirky boyfriend/girlfriend pest control team for which the word “pest” means anything from yeti to demon; and Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater's para-romance about a girl named Grace and a shapeshifter/werewolf named Sam (must be a popular name for shifters).

Forget about things that go bump in the night. Readers are deliciously devouring these para-themed books all hours of the day. And speaking of shapeshifting — I loved one author’s take on the Twilight phenomenon: Defining Twilight, an SAT vocab practice book that explicitly explains what Stephanie Meyer means when she describes Edward’s eyes as “ocher.”

Paranormal pop culture has won its battle with Borders. Next up? The World. Or, in the very least, a blog. — amy kates