It turns out readers in Saskatchewan are no different than readers in the rest of the country, except in one respect: they really like The Shack.
The religious-themed 2008 bestseller, written by Oregon-based author William Paul Young (who was born in Grande Prairie, Alta.), ranks among the top 15 books sold in the province in the last 10 years, according to a recently-released study of BNC SalesData statistics by BookNet Canada.
And Saskatchewan is the only province or territory where The Shack ranks as highly.
Booksellers in Saskatoon are divided as to why.
"I'm a little surprised that it's [such] a sell for this province," said Helen MacPherson, the general manager of the city's McNally Robinson bookstore.
"It continually sells. But, you know, not that it flies off the shelf."
'A strong Bible Belt'
The book, which was recently adapted as a feature film, tells the story of the grieving father of a missing child who, in the process of trying to solve that mystery, may or may not come into the path of God himself.
Or herself, in the case of The Shack: God takes many forms in the novel, which is part of its appeal, says Roxanne Cooper, the manager of Saskatoon's Kennedy's Parable, a Christian-themed bookseller.
"[Young] presented God in different formats: God as a black woman, God as a gardener. He came to meet people in different places in their lives as not necessarily always a male figure," said Cooper.
For her, the book's appeal in the province is a no-brainer.
"We have a strong Bible Belt in Saskatchewan. So a lot of people are looking and reading religious or Christian fiction. It was also a very controversial book. People were buying it just to find out what it was about."
The movie helped, too.
"The DVD came out in May and we've sold 59 copies of it already," plus 30 copies of the book since November, said Cooper.
"For a speciality bookstore, that is a lot."
On Fifty Shades of Grey: 'Haven't read it'
But MacPherson from McNally Robinson is nevertheless surprised to see it among the list of top sellers.
"I know people will ask for it by name and it's basically, 'Oh, my friend read it. I should get this,'" she said.
"But there's nothing to tie it to any particular reason here for Saskatchewan."
As for the top-selling book in the province — the first installment in E.L. James' salacious Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy — Cooper of Kennedy's Parable had little to say.
"I haven't read it. We don't sell it here," she said.
Full list of Saskatchewan top-selling books in the last 10 years
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.
- Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw.
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.
- Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer.
- Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James.
- Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
- Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James.
- Minecraft by Mojang.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
- The Shack by William Paul Young.