I have been a reader all my life and escaping into the world of a good book is something that everyone can enjoy. With fiction particularly, I get inspired by reading books in different genres, and I’ve compiled a list of them as well as sub-genres – for fiction only. What’s your Genre?
Commercial Fiction and Literary Fiction
There is commercial contemporary fiction and literary contemporary fiction, and both fulfill different needs of the reader – and the writer. Commercial fiction can be anything from The Godfather to books by Liane Moriarty and Elin Hilderbrand: the writers are storytellers and while the writing is good, it is the story and the characters who move the story that make the novels memorable. Contemporary women’s fiction falls into this category rather than romance since romance is only one part of the whole story.
Contemporary literary fiction is more writerly. There is character and story, and both unfold with literary expertise and reflect the author’s sensibilities. From E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime to writers like Michael Chabon and David Foster Wallace; Jennifer Egan and Elizabeth Strout – these writers weave a web of magic with their mastery of word usage and language.
If you love history, then try some historical fiction. A good historical novel will provide historical accuracy as well as drama. Look into the imagined life of Helen of Troy, Caesar, Alexander the Great, and even Cleaopatra! Historical fiction won’t take you to a whole new world, it’ll take you to an entirely new era—an era that has passed, but has not been forgotten.
Historical fiction is something that everyone enjoys because it’s a perfect mix of reality and fiction. If you want to live through the Victorian or Elizabethan era for just a little, then grab a book on historical fiction—you might just experience things you never thought you could. Here is a great list of 50 Essential Historical Fiction Books.
While the genre title says “Children’s,” most children’s books are classics that even adults enjoy. Books like The Velveteen Rabbit, The Secret Garden, and The Little Prince are just a few of the iconic and nostalgic books that even adults still read.
With children’s books, there is more than talking animals and life lessons and fresh perspectives. Today, there are sub-genres called Young Adult Literature and Tween Literature or New Adult, and these are important categories that often cross into adult readerships. The Harry Potter books, the Twilight series, all the dystopian novels fall into the category of Young Adult literature and are hugely popular.
With Young Adult fiction books, you never know what you’re going to get. If you’re looking for a mix between safe and dangerous, romantic and adventurous, then you just might need to spend some time with a young adult book. Interested in this genre or have a younger reader in the family, this Goodreads Best Young Adult Fiction for 2016 is an excellent place to start.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
There is a world of difference between fantasy and science fiction, but the key point to remember is that science fiction can actually happen, while fantasy is pure imagination.
Fantasy books can transport you to super-imaginary worlds, different eras, and amazing cultures. They take you into a world beyond our world. Most fantasy books have a main character and often a sidekick. A perfect example of fantasy in film is the Star Wars series. If you have a thirst for adventure, then fantasy books are your perfect companions. Amazon has a good list of fantasy bestsellers here. And a terrific site to explain the differences is: www.sfsite.com.
Science fiction delves into the realm of possibility, with weaponry that is conceivable in the future. Science fiction is a more intellectual adventure than fantasy, but no less exciting.
SUSPENSE: Mystery & Thriller
There are mysteries and thrillers of all types, often in a series with a continuing sleuth, be it amateur or professional. The key to a page-turning mystery or thriller is a plot that keeps the reader guessing with a protagonist who is discovering the truth along with the reader.
There is a distinction between mystery and thriller, and it is an important one. In a thriller, usually it is known who done it, and action and suspense in trying to stop another crime and catching the criminal are the keys to moving the story along.
In a mystery, a crime has been committed and the story develops from discovering who did it and why. A good mystery uses more brain power in its sleuthing whereas there is more action in a thriller. A mystery involves the reader more in unmasking the culprit and solving the puzzle.
There are so many sub-genres in mystery and thriller, and they all make for a terrific reading experience. Here are just a few:
- Cozy mystery
- Noir mystery
- International thriller
- Legal thriller
- Police procedural
- Amateur sleuth
- Medical mystery
- Psychological suspense
When it comes to suspense, it is important to remember the horror genre, of which there is no better practitioner than Stephen King. Here is where reality often takes a dark and ugly turn. In the regular mystery or thriller, there is nothing supernatural. What happens could happen! The horror in a horror novel can also be close enough to reality to be truly frightening for the reader.
A great site to discover outstanding mysteries and thrillers is: www.theedgars.com. The Edgars are an annual award in many categories of suspense given by the Mystery Writers of America in honor of Edgar Allan Poe.
Romance is the number one category of bestsellers for self-publishing writers. A good story with engaging characters, usually in a setting that lends itself to a series, are tremendously popular. Here is a good link for the top romance novels that are worth reading.
“Romance writers often do not get the respect they deserve, and they should. Not only do they sell a lot of books, they please a lot of readers–and that is worthy of anyone’s respect.”Susanne Jaffe
If there are many sub-genres to mystery and thriller, there are that many and more to romance.
- ‘Chick’ Lit
- Romantic Suspense
Unlike fantasy books, magical realism books focus on the real world. But a different version of the real world. These books introduce the concept that magic does exist.
If you’re looking for a literally magical experience, then pick out one of these books. The authors make sure that everything you read seems realistic enough that it could happen.
After one of these books, readers are usually left with one big question—does magic truly exist? Authors of this genre make sure that when you finish the book, you get the feeling that anything can happen.
Classical Literary Fiction
Classical books are just that—classic. If you want to read Wuthering Heights, Huckleberry Finn, Pride and Prejudice, and authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, don’t hesitate to explore the world these and other classics of fiction.
These works won’t just give you amazing experiences, but also lessons that you learn with the main character. Standing alongside the main character and watching his or her life unfold is an amazing journey that you do not want to miss.
The best part about the classics is that you can read them again and again and never get tired of them—which is why people have been reading them for ages! They are applicable to all age groups and valid during all time periods.
If you’re looking for a relaxing experience, then pick out a classical book, sit back, and enjoy the journey. f you want to look for books similar to ones that you have read by millions before you, here is a nice list of the GoodReads titles from classic literature which should be read by everyone.
Conclusion: Genres of Writing
There is nothing more enjoyable than escaping into the world of a good book. People from all over the world have enjoyed reading stories and retelling them through words printed on paper and now, screens. So if you are thinking of writing, perhaps one of these genres is exactly what you’ve been looking for, and if you aren’t interested in writing and just want to relax for a few hours’ escape, then grab a book that you might like—from a genre you usually enjoy or better yet with this list, from an entirely new one.