There were at least 20 titles which I would characterize as from the "prosperity gospel" genre. One author had nine books in that section! Nine? I don't want to be overly critical, but I could not help but wonder, "Is that woman really finding time to write prolifically or are most of these books a rehash of the same theme?" I noted a large number of "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen, and titles such as (my paraphrase) "Seven Steps to Greatness," "How to Overcome Your Fears," "God Wants You Blessed," "Being All You Can Be," and book after book with similar titles. Because all the books were in one relatively small space, I was struck with something that seemed overwhelming.
It was not that there is no truth in these volumns. There probably is. Do I not want to be the best I can be? Yes, of course I do. Do I want to overcome fear, or things that hold me back? Oh, very much! Don't I want to have the best life I can have? Yep, for sure.
So what is the problem?
The books do not turn one's focus to the greatness of God, the beauty of his holiness, do not call us to repentance and righteousness, do not rebuke us for our lack of sacrifice and submission and discipleship, do not deal with our pride (the perpetual sin of mankind).
It's all about....ME getting happy!
The topics are, with some exceptions, a rehash of self-help and pop psychology with religious terms attached to make it seem "Christian." Perhaps some will say that it is sour grapes for a pastor of a small rural church to criticize the pastor of one of the largest churches in America, but to me there is little of Christ in Joel Osteen's runaway best seller.
You may already know what I think about what is largely offered in most "Christian" book stores. I think the inflated prices and the "Jesus junk" and the shelves loaded with books characterized by shallow exegesis (if any at all) and humanistic theology and "devotional" baby food are disgraceful. As for the gender specific books like "Wild at Heart" and "Captivated" -- back away quickly! And it grieves my heart to admit that some of the worst offenders are in the "charismatic" camp.
Some stores are better than others, of course. All have sections with books that will genuinely challenge, stretch your brain, make you think and ask questions. Bypass the current best sellers and the books with girly or manly covers and head for the theology or the classics sections. Read Bonhoeffer and Murray and Moody and Chambers and even Billy Graham. And don't be afraid of contemplative authors such as Nouwen. Some wonderful devotional material is available from Catholic authors.
"In Search of that Which is True" has a blog post that is must reading. It is titled Popular Christian Literature as a Reflection of an Intellectual Crisis. Here is a quote from the longer post.