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List of Book Genres: 30 Fiction And Nonfiction Genres You Should Know

What’s so important about knowing the genres of books ?

Well, if you’re an author with a work in progress, you’ll want to know its genre to ensure your ideal readers find and read it.

List a science fiction novel as a paranormal romance, for example, and you’ll likely end up with a flurry of negative reviews. No one wants that.

Readers of specific book genres have expectations you’ll want to meet if you want them to enjoy your book and recommend it to others.

You also want readers to see your book’s cover and know it’s the genre they want.

So, knowing your book’s genre not only helps with marketing. It can make all the difference in your writing career.

What does your book genre tell you?

30 book genres explained, fiction genres, nonfiction genres, most popular book genres.

Once you know your book’s genre, you can write it knowing the following expectations your book should meet:

For example, if you’re writing YA fantasy, you’ll run afoul of your readers (and their parents) if your story includes a sex scene or graphic violence.

If you’re writing a cozy mystery, you don’t want your book’s cover to look like it belongs on a horror novel.

And if you’re writing fantasy , you’ll want to find a designer who specializes in that genre and knows how to create covers worthy of a Rick Riordan novel.

Unless you’re an experienced cover designer (like Derek Murphy of CreativIndie ), DIY covers using stock photos will put your fantasy novel at a serious disadvantage.

With that in mind, enjoy this list of 30 types of book genres with descriptions and an example (or two) for each. It’s not an exhaustive list; there are upwards of 40 genres — more if you count sub-genres and mixed genres.

But it’s enough to help you identify your book’s genre.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction , you’ll be prepared to meet genre expectations and market your book appropriately to reach your target audience and maximize sales.

Your readers will also appreciate your taking the time to learn what this post will teach you. And so will your book’s editor and cover designer.

List of Book Genres

  • Fantasy — The fantasy genre involves world-building and characters who are supernatural, mythological, magical, or a combination of these. Examples: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Science Fiction — Similar to fantasy, this genre explores futuristic or technological themes and ideas to address scientific “what if” questions. Examples: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle
  • Dystopian — Sometimes considered a subgenre of fantasy or of science fiction, this genre is usually set in a bleak future (near or distant) to explore cultural or social issues. Examples include Wool by Hugh Howey and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Adventure — Any novel that focuses on an adventure undertaken by the main character (with or without help) falls under the adventure genre. This genre can easily be combined with others. Example: White Fang by Jack London
  • Romance — Any novel where the main storyline centers on a romantic relationship falls into this category, which has several subgenres. Examples include The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
  • Detective & Mystery — One of the toughest genres to write, this one centers on a mystery and involves either a professional or amateur sleuth. Examples: Murder on the the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
  • Horror — The goal of this genre is to scare your readers and keep them that way until the hero vanquishes the threat. Example: The Shining by Stephen King
  • Thriller — This genre also has scary elements, but its main objective is to keep your reader in a state of suspense until the story’s resolution. Example: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • LGBTQ+ — Fiction with authentic LGBTQ+ representation falls into this category, which is sometimes considered a subgenre of contemporary fiction but can also be mixed with romance, fantasy, and other genres. Example: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Historical Fiction — This genre covers fiction set in a specific time period and providing historically accurate detail relevant to the period and its characters. Examples: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Young Adult (YA) (13-17 yrs) — This is fiction for readers aged 13 to 17 years. Example: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
  • Children’s Fiction — Fiction in this genre is written for kids aged up to 13 and is further divided into smaller subgenres. Example: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.
  • Memoir & Autobiography — Each of the books in this genre is a true account of the author’s own life. Memoirs are typically related to a specific time in the author’s life or to a specific theme of the author’s choosing. Example: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
  • Biography — Biographies are books written on someone other than the author — generally someone well known or someone whose life and or death can teach the world something worth learning. Example: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Cooking — In this genre, you’ll find books on every kind of cooking someone in the world took the time to write about, as well as cooking for different diets and nutritional needs. Example: Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre
  • Art & Photography — This genre includes books on artists of all kinds, as well as on each type of art and its history. Example: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography by Tony Northrup
  • Self-Help / Personal Development — This genre is all about helping your reader realize their potential, develop their gifts, and live fulfilling lives. Example: Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
  • Motivational / Inspirational — This genre’s main purpose is to get you to do something, to inspire you, or to challenge your perspective. Example: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
  • Health & Fitness — Here you’ll find books on both mental and physical health concerns as well as diets and weight loss. Example: Lies My Doctor Told Me by Ken D. Berry
  • History — This genre focuses on a specific time period or covers a broad span of time, often describing specific historical characters. Example: Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Harari
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home — Look to this genre for topics related to creating a home and developing specific hobbies or crafts. Examples: The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker
  • Families & Relationships — If it deals with family life, marriage, or any kind of interpersonal relationship, your book belongs in this genre. Example: The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
  • Humor & Entertainment — Books in this genre are supposed to make you laugh or at least keep you entertained. Many also belong to the memoir genre. Example: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Business & Money — If you’re writing a nonfiction book on business topics, wealth building, or managing your money, it probably belongs to this genre. Example: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Law & Criminology — Books on the legal system, on laws, criminal justice, and related topics belong in this genre. Example: The New Jim Crow: Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Politics & Social Sciences — Books in this genre discuss politics or issues related to one or more of the social sciences (psychology, sociology, social work, etc.). Example: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Religion & Spirituality — From personal guides to spiritual memoirs to histories, this genre covers religions of all kinds along with spiritual practices. Example: Runes for Beginners by Lisa Chamberlain
  • Education & Teaching — Any book that proposes to teach the reader how to do something — or how to do it better — belongs to this genre. Example: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution by Zak George and Dina Roth Port
  • Travel — This genre includes travel guides and travel-heavy memoirs. Example: The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Lonely Planet
  • True Crime — These often read like well-crafted crime fiction but are true stories that chronicle real crimes, typically with exacting detail. Examples: If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen

More Related Articles:

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According to QueryTracker , of all the genres listed above, the top ten most popular fiction genres are the following:

  • Young Adult (YA)
  • Fantasy (including YA and Children’s)
  • Children’s
  • Literary Fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Thrillers /Suspense
  • Middle Grade
  • Romance/ Erotica
  • Picture Book

And these are the top ten most popular nonfiction genres:

  • Narrative/Creative Nonfiction)
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Cultural/Social Issues
  • Business/Finance
  • General Nonfiction
  • Health & Fitness

If your book doesn’t belong in one of these top ten lists, don’t worry. Plenty of books that fit into other genres get published every year — traditionally or independently.

These lists indicate the genres most often submitted to literary agents as well as the genres most often requested by them.

If you know your book’s target audience is plenty big enough to justify your investment of time, energy, and other resources, it makes no difference whether your chosen genre is on the most popular list.

Use what you learn with us at AuthorityPub to write, launch, and market your book to bestseller status.

List of Book Genres

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to identify your book’s genre (or genres), how will that influence your decisions regarding cover design, editing, and marketing tactics?

Where will you find more of the kind of readers who will love your book, so you can send them word when it launches?

Maybe you’ve already found some Facebook groups for your genre. Or maybe your reader following on Twitter is steadily growing, thanks to your use of targeted hashtags.

What could you do today to begin marketing your book, so you can whet the appetites of your genre’s biggest fans among your social media connections and email subscribers?

We keep abreast of indie publishing trends and tactics to help writers like you make a good living with their books.

Because it can be done. And if that’s your goal, I’ll do everything I can to help you get there.

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Fiction Genres: Every Genre & Sub-Genre (2022)

by Dalton Drake

Fiction genres are much debated and revised, but they’re crucial to providing logical order to the storytelling arts. We took it upon ourselves to compile the most comprehensive guide known to humankind.

Before we jump into some subtopics and explore the world of fiction genres in both detail and macro, feel free to use the table of contents below to quickly jump to a specific genre listing.

Rather a PDF to print so you can pin this baby to a wall? Feel free to click here to download .

Let’s jump in.

Genre Fiction vs Literary Fiction

Woman in peril, young adult romance, young adult thriller, young adult western, stream of consciousness, quiet horror, wuxia fantasy, young adult science fiction, speculative, overview: fiction genres.

Before we dive right in, let’s take a moment to review the concept of fiction genres. If this is all old news, feel free to skip ahead to the section of your choice.

How to Use This Guide to Genres of Fiction

Contrary to how it may appear, this is not a list of movie genres or a rundown of the myriad types of genres in literature. Instead, this is a guide to fiction genres. That means it’s all-encompassing: movies , TV , books , comics , games , and more.

Feel free to jump from genre to genre, save this page in your bookmarks for repeated reference, or simply read end-to-end. If we’ve forgotten a genre, please give us a heads up in the comments down below. 

This resource will be updated continually and considered a living document. So, we’d love for you, the reader, to take an active part in its creation and shape.

What Is A Genre of Fiction?

Many may feel like they have a good grasp of a genre of fiction, but there is actually a good deal of debate about this topic. Especially in academic circles.

For some, a genre of fiction is what others might consider a medium. For example, novels versus short stories. Others still consider a broader medium of creative writing as a whole to be a genre, such as prose versus poetry.

But for the vast majority of common folk and many academics, fiction genres are a category of narrative entertainment with similar themes, elements, and motifs. That’s how we’ll be using the term “genre” in this article.

Hybrid Genres of Fiction

We’ve all seen or read a work of fiction that’s hard to classify. Hybrid seems to be the only way to describe them collectively. Individually, we string together a series of genres to show the elements that blend together.

Generally, hyphens reign supreme in genre classification. It can seem like a never ending daisy chain of conjoined sub-genres and crossover genres. Looks ridiculous and, frankly, it is ridiculous. But that’s basically what we’re left with doing.

Here, for the most part, we’re foregoing hybrid genres. Meaning, we’re not separating them out and classifying them as a new whole. Instead, we’re defining each genre separately and leaving you, the reader, to place hyphens as you please.

There are exceptions, of course. Primarily when the hybrid genre has risen to the state of subgenre because of its prevalence in mainstream culture. Examples include supernatural romance.

In general, genre fiction (also known as commercial fiction) is what “sells.” It appeals to a wider audience because it’s created for entertainment value. Literary fiction, on the other hand, is generally created to convey a message or meaning. This is not to say that genre fiction cannot have a broader message or literary elements, or that literary fiction cannot be entertaining, but these are the broadest general terms that can be used to convey their meaning.

Commercial Fiction Genres

The first section is dedicated to commercial (genre) fiction. These are the titles that generally encompass the more entertaining aspects of fiction that tend to be consumed by the masses at large.

Adventure is an incredibly broad genre that encompasses elements of action and suspense. The protagonist is forced to go on a journey, often by chance encounters or problems beyond their control. Along the way, problems arise that prevent the protagonist from continuing the journey, and these must be dealt with using wit, skill, or force. Adventure can be mixed with practically any other genre to form a cohesive sub-genre.

Movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Treasure Island, Onward TV Shows: McGyver, Black Sails, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure Literature: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, King Solomon’s Mines, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn Games: Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Shadow of Colossus

As the name suggests, the children’s genre is made for the purpose of entertaining, and often educating children. Elements of this genre include morality, poetry, simplicity, and artwork. A work of children’s fiction must be understood or readable by children of ages 3 – 7.

Movies: Zootopia, Spirited Away, Jumanji TV Shows: Amazing Stories, Carmen Sandiego, Steven Universe Literature: Little Women, Charlotte’s Web, Aesop’s Fables Games: Minecraft, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Super Mario Odyssey

The classic genre is a bit strange as it isn’t a collection of similar themes and subject matter like the other genres. Instead, classics are works of fiction and non-fiction that define or contribute to other genres. Every genre has “classic” works that make up that genre’s substance.

Movies: Casablanca, Psycho, The Wizard of Oz TV Shows: Star Trek, The Golden Girls, The Simpsons Literature: Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, 1984 Games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda

The purpose of the comedy genre is mainly to entertain and offer levity. Comedy isn’t always humorous, though that is a staple of the more modern version of the genre. Classically, a “comedy” simply has a happy ending. Since then, the genre has expanded to include all manner of tropes, themes, and plot devices.

Movies:  Idiocracy, Blazing Saddles, Little Miss Sunshine TV Shows: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office, Arrested Development  Literature: As You Like It, The Conscious Lovers, The Importance of Being Earnest Games: South Park: The Stick of Truth, Jazzpunk, Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Historical fiction deals with historical events, and time periods either real or imagined. The genre strives to include specific details dealing with customs, manners, social conditions, and other details of the period it depicts. Historical fiction generally requires more research and creativity than some other genres due to its attention to detail and use of historical context respectively.

Movies:  1917, The Favourite, Schindler’s List TV Shows: Marco Polo, Downton Abbey, Outlander Literature: War and Peace, The Things They Carried, The Gettysburg Trilogy Games: Assassin’s Creed, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Call of Duty: WWII

Middle Grade

Middle grade is a genre that typically appeals to children ages 8 – 12. It is different from children’s fiction in that it typically relies on more mature themes (though decidedly less mature than young adult fiction) and focuses on the protagonist’s friends, family, and the immediate world around them.

Movies:  Holes, Inkheart, Freaky Friday TV Shows: The Magic School Bus, Heartland, Dear America Literature: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Fish in a Tree, George Games: Portal, Yaga, Broken Age

The mystery genre is a very broad category that includes elements of suspense, and intrigue. A classical mystery presents a problem with no clear answer, then proceeds to solve it over the course of the story. Ultimately this ends with revealing the source of the mystery. The ultimate goal of the mystery genre is to demystify an event or reveal truth. This category has multiple sub-genres.

Movies:  The Davinci Code, Memento, Primal Fear TV Shows: Dark, Psychopass, Murdoch Mysteries Literature: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Woman in White Games: The Wolf Among Us, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Disco Elysium

Amateur Sleuth

The amateur sleuth is a mystery subgenre that focuses around a protagonist that is usually an everyman with no connection to the police that regularly solves crimes, generally murders. This could also branch into other genres like children’s creative variations of the protagonist like “the kid detective.” Most importantly–they do not receive monetary compensation for their work.

Movies:  Frantic, The Lady Vanishes, Murder on the Blackboard TV Shows: Scooby-Doo, Castle, Grantchester Literature: Murder at the Vicarage, The Name of the Rose, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Games: Kathy Rain, Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower, Painscreek Killings

Bumbling Detective

Another mystery sub-genre, this one focuses on comedy and a protagonist that is incompetant, inexperienced, or simply oblivious to the dangers they regularly put themselves into. They confusingly slog through their cases until they arrive at the correct conclusion without knowing how they got there.

Movies:  The Pink Panther, Get Smart, The Naked Gun TV Shows: Inspector Gadget, The Detectives, Year of the Rabbit Literature: The Manual of Detection, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries Games: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Sam & Max

This is a subgenre of mystery or crime fiction, and generally involves the main character or characters, usually a rag-tag group of criminals, becoming embroiled in a crime that they either have already pulled off, or are planning to pull off. Most caper stories involve humor, adventure, and cleverness on the part of the protagonists.

Movies:  Oceans 11, Topkapi, Baby Driver TV Shows: Leverage, Firefly, The A-Team Literature: The Hobbit, Six of Crows, The Great Train Robbery Games: Empire of Sin, Sly Cooper, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine

Supernatural Romance

Also known as “Paranormal Romance,” this is a hybrid subgenre that combines romantic plots with elements of the supernatural. Typically the protagonist is embroiled in a relationship with a member of a supernatural group such as a werewolf, a vampire, an alien, or a ghost. The themes are almost always centered on romantic love. 

Movies:  Ghost, Stardust, Meet Joe Black TV Shows: Teen Wolf, True Blood, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer  Literature: A Discovery of Witches, Conversion, Twilight Games: Monsters of New Haven High, The Vampire House, The Wayhaven Chronicles

Child in Peril

This genre focuses on elements of action, adventure, horror, thriller, and others while using a child or a group of children as the protagonist(s). This genre most often involves supernatural or horror elements, but it is not a defining feature.

Movies:  The Witches, Stand By Me, The Goonies TV Shows: Stranger Things, Goosebumps, The Hardy Boys Literature: The Girl in the Red Hood, Lord of the Flies, M.T. Anderson’s Thrilling Tales Games: Little Nightmares, Costume Quest, EarthBound 

Also known as “Cozies” or “Cozy Mysteries” this genre most often focuses on an amature sleuth that solves mysteries in a small community where suspect lists are short because everyone knows everyone. Sex, profanity, and violence are prohibited. 

Movies:  Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery TV Shows: Murder She Wrote, Father Brown, Hamish Macbeth Literature: The Regatta Mystery, Elephants Can Remember, The Christie Curse Games: Nancy Drew (series), Eagle Eye Mysteries, Persona 4

This sub-genre of mysteries is focused on a protagonist, antagonist, or victim that is or was a chef or cook. 

Movies:  The Gourmet Detective (series) TV Shows: Murder, She Baked Literature: Too Many Cooks, Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, Dying for Chocolate Games: (None)

Doctor Detective

This is a sub-genre of mystery that focuses on a protagonist that is in the medical field. The protagonist can be a doctor that solves medical mysteries, a detective that uses medical knowledge to solve crimes, or some combination of these elements with a twist.

Movies:  Pathology, Extreme Measures, Malice TV Shows: The Good Doctor, House M.D., Diagnosis: Murder Literature: The Silent Partner, Striving With Gods, Symptoms of Death Games: Emergency Room: Real Life Rescues, Trauma Center: New Blood

Furry Sleuth

A subgenre of mysteries that focuses on a protagonist that is an anthropomorphic animal, or solves crimes with the help of an animal. 

Movies: Sherlock Hound, Zootopia, Scooby Doo TV Shows: Scooby Doo, Cuticle Detective Inaba  Literature: Cat on the Edge, Sneaky Pie For President, The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers. Games: Blacksad: Under the Skin, Backbone, Detective Pikachu


This subgenre of mystery is categorized by a protagonist that is disabled that must overcome or use their disability to solve crimes.

Movies: Silver Bullet, The Bone Collector  TV Shows: Monk, Ironside Literature: Refusal, The Suspect Games: (None)


The subgenre of mystery focuses on a tough, gritty, cynical male protagonist that is a private investigator. These tales tend to be darker, or edgier than other mysteries.

Movies:  The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Chinatown TV Shows: Spencer for Hire, Mike Hammer, Kamen Rider Double Literature: Farewell My Lovely, Put the Sepia On, Gun, With Occasional Music Games: L.A. Noir,Under a Killing Moon, Discworld Noir

The subgenre of mystery focuses on a tough, gritty, cynical female protagonist that is a private investigator. It is the feminine version of the hard-boiled subgenre.

Movies:  V.I. Warschawski TV Shows: Our Miss Brooks, Jessica Jones, Bones Literature: “A” is for Alibi, Hungover and Handcuffed, Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend  Games: A Case of Distrust, Detect Occult, Black Closet

A subgenre of mystery where the audience witnesses the crime at the beginning, and the plot centers around how the perpetrator will be caught.

Movies: Dial “M” For Murder, Oldboy, Knives Out TV Shows: Columbo, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Criminal Minds Literature: The Wishing Spell, Dr. Thorndyke, A Kiss Before Dying Games: Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy), The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

A subgenre of mystery that focuses on a protagonist that is a lawyer or court official that solves the case themselves while the police are baffled.

Movies:  A Few Good Men, Anatomy of Murder, Michael Clayton TV Shows: Perry Mason, Matlock, Ally McBeal Literature: The Lincoln Lawyer, Miracle Creek, Saving Max Games: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Locked Room

As the name implies, this subgenre of mystery revolves around the conundrum of a crime being committed with very few possible scenarios as to how it happened. Use of extreme perception and logic are used by the protagonist to solve these “impossible” crimes.

Movies: The Verdict, Under the Evil Sun, Shutter Island TV Shows: Jonathan Creek, Banaek, Murdoch Mysteries Literature: Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Light Fantastic, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul Games: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Ghost Trick, Deadline

In this subgenre of mystery, the plot usually follows normal genre procedures, but the culprit is usually found to be some form of supernatural being or force such as a ghost, monster, or a vengeful spirit.

Movies:  The Facts in the Case of Mr. Hollow, The Changeling, Angel Heart TV Shows: The X Files, Supernatural, Twin Peaks Literature: Ghosts, The Woman in Black, Falling Angel Games: The Dark Pictures: Little Hope, Until Dawn, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Police Procedural

This is one of the broadest subgenres of mystery that is characterized by a detective, or team of detectives that must work together to identify and catch killers that are beyond normal means.

Movies:  The Blue Lamp, Detective Story, The Guilty TV Shows: Law & Order: SVU, Dragnet, Narcos Literature: Cop Craft, Rivers of London, 87th Precinct  Games: Blue Force, Police Quest, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Private Detective

A subgenre of mystery focused on the protagonist that is a private detective. What separates this from hard boiled is the variance of setting, tone, and protagonist.

Movies:  Gone Baby Gone, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shaft TV Shows: Magnum P.I., The Rockford Files, Psych Literature: The Purloined Letter, Shadow of a Broken Man, The Genesis Code Games: Dangonropa, Kona, Detective Grimoire 

Third World

In this subgenre of mysteries, the setting and characters are drawn from exotic, underused, and unfamiliar countries and cultures.

Movies: The Last Hour, Zero TV Shows: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, No Man’s Land Literature: Inspector Ghote, Wife of the Gods Games: (None)

As the name implies, this subgenre of mystery centers on the protagonist finding the culprit of a crime. Often the protagonist is a clever detective who was either present, or moves to the crime scene where there are already obvious suspects.

Movies: Clue, Gosford Park, Once Upon a Crime TV Shows: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Luther, Jonathan Creek Literature: And Then There Were None, Ten Little Indians, Wolf Lake Games: Caper in the Castro, L.A. Noir, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

In this subgenre of mystery, the protagonist and the audience have access to the same clues throughout the story. This gives the audience the chance to solve the mystery before the protagonist.

Movies:  Hot Fuzz, The Last of Sheila, Murder by Death TV Shows: Jonathan Creek, Psyche, Sins for Father Knox  Literature: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Poet, The Caves of Steel Games: Heavy Rain, Super Solvers: Midnight, L.A. Noir

This subgenre’s plots revolve around a woman in danger from varied sources, and aren’t necessarily “mysteries” in the traditional sense, but may have elements of the mystery genre. This is much like Child in Peril .

Movies:  Opera, The Ladies Club, Eyes of Laura Mars TV Shows: Killer Instinct, Supernatural, CSI Literature: The Shining Girls, Girl in the Box, The Poisonwood Bible Games: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Beyond Good and Evil, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

This is a broad genre that includes elements of many other genres, but the themes focus on love, attraction, romantic feelings, sex, idealism, fantasy, and emotional tension. Generally the plot revolves around the romantic relationship of two protagonists, and the ending is emotionally satisfying.

Movies:  Casablanca, Call Me by Your Name, Lost in Translation TV Shows: Bridgerton, Emily in Paris, Sex and the City Literature: Jane Eyre, The Notebook, Indego Games: Dream Daddy, Florence, Life is Strange: Before the Storm


In this subgenre of romance, the love interest is very wealthy, either from family money, or from some kind of well-known business enterprise. Commonly, but not essentially, the protagonist is poor.

Movies:  Crazy Rich Asians, Maid in Manhattan, Pretty in Pink TV Shows: Jane the Virgin, Destiny Love, Inocente de ti Literature: Bared to You, Beautiful Bastard, In Flight Games: Fall in Love: My Billionaire Boss, Love Story Games: Kissed by a Billionaire

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance is the largest subgenre of romance wherein the social moors of the time in which the work is created are impressed upon the audience. This generally means that the work as a whole reflects the times in which the author lived.

Movies:  Love Actually, The Big Stick, Brokeback Mountain TV Shows: Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives Literature: September Ends, The Bronze Horseman, Broken Homes Gardens Games: The Uncharted Series, Dream Daddy, Florence

Fantasy Romance

Fantasy romance is essentially a romantic plot that is set in a fantastical world, or that incorporates fantastical elements into its plot, and setting.

Movies:  The Princess Bride, What Dreams May Come, Stardust TV Shows: Once Upon a Time, Merlin, Misfits Literature: Stormsong, The Wicked Fox, Silver in the Wood Games: Final Fantasy X, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Arcana

Gothic Romance

This is a subgenre of romance that incorporates elements of fantasy romance, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance, but its themes and settings tend to be darker. The typical gothic romance revolves around conflict and mystery.

Movies:  Crimson Peak, Let the Right One In, The Woman in Black TV Shows: Penny Dreadful, Anne With an E, Arang and the Magistrate Literature: July Thunder, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca Games: Ravenherst, Doki Doki Literature Club, Gray Matter

Historical Romance

This subgenre of romance is characterized by its history-based context, and attention to detail when describing the setting, characters, and social constructs of the time period in question. Many of the best pieces of historical romance were once considered contemporary romance until they aged out of the category.

Movies: Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Favourite TV Shows: The Tudors, Poldark, Victoria Literature: Jane Eyre, Slightly Married, The Bride Games: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, The Lady’s Choice, Attentat 1942

Holidays Romance

In this subgenre of romance, the story takes place during a holiday–especially Christmas. The protagonist is usually a female with kids, and the romantic interest is usually a man who has had some tragedy in his life. Through the story, the two end up together just in time for the holidays.

Movies: Christmas With A View, Snow Bride, A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish TV Shows: Santa’s Squad (TV Movie), Naughty & Nice (TV Movie), A Holiday Romance (TV Movie) Literature: One Day in December, Holidate, Wrapped Up in You Games: (None)

Inspirational Romance

Inspirational romance is a subgenre focused around faith, generally the Christian faith. The protagonist is usually a person of faith, or is looking for their faith. The author may also use faith as a plot device.

Movies: I Still Believe, Fireproof, Forever My Girl TV Shows: When Calls the Heart, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Finding Love in Quarantine Literature: Redeeming Love, A Passion Most Pure, The Negotiator Games: Adam’s Venture, That Dragon: Cancer

Military Romance

A subgenre of romance in which the hero or heroine are active duty or former military. If the protagonist is not part of the military, then the story takes place during a war, or in or around a military base.

Movies: Cold Mountain, Pearl Harbor, Atonement TV Shows: Army Wives, The Night Shift, The Last Ship Literature: Fighting Redemption, Vivid, Making Faces Games: Gears of War, Xenogears

Paranormal Romance

This subgenre of both romance fiction and speculative fiction focuses on romantic love and includes elements of fantasy, science fiction, or horror that go beyond normal understanding.

Movies: A Ghost Story, Beauty and the Beast, The Love Witch TV Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, A Gifted Man, Pushing Daisies Literature: A Queer Trade, A Discovery of Witches, Bitter Spirits Games: My Magical Divorce Bureau, Demonheart, Rose of Winter

Regency Romance

This subgenre is not merely historical romance, but focuses on a specific period of time between 1811 – 1820 (The British Regency period), and has its own rules such as courtly manners, intelligent dialogue, and very little, if any, explicit sexual dialogue or depictions thereof. 

Movies: Bright Star, The Courage to Love, Beloved Sisters TV Shows: War & Peace, Reign, Mr. Sunshine Literature: Sense & Sensibility, Midsummer Moon, For All Eternity Games: Regency Love

Romantic Suspense

This subgenre of romance incorporates elements of mystery and thriller genres. 

Movies: Siberia, Rebecca, Basic Instinct TV Shows: The Protector, Vagabond, The Innocents Literature: Nine Coaches Waiting, The Fearless King, Hush Games: Kill or Love, Happy Valentine’s Day

Science Fiction Romance

This subgenre uses elements of science fiction and fantasy to convey its plot that focuses on romantic love. 

Movies: The Shape of Water, Alita: Battle Angel, Passengers TV Shows: Dr. Who, Sword Art Online, My Love From Another Star Literature: Grimspace, Bolt, Finders Keepers Games: Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, To the Moon

Sports Romance

This romance subgenre focuses on a protagonist that is either in professional sports, was in professional sports, or has a job related to the field. Alternatively, the love interest of the narrative is or was in professional sports, or has a job in the field.

Movies: Love & Basketball, Bend it Like Beckham, Jerry Maguire TV Shows: Friday Night Lights, One Tree Hill, Make It or Break It Literature: Furia, The Right Player, The Bromance Book Club Games: Aokana – Four Rhythms Across the Blue, Date Night Bowling

Time Travel Romance

This subgenre of romance relies on some element of time travel to support or drive its narrative, usually the protagonist or the love interest has been transported through time, and the main conflict arises when they must decide whether or not to stay in the current time, or return to their own. While it can be classified as sci-fi and/or supernatural, this subgenre has become popular and enumerated enough to gain its own subgenre.

Movies: Somewhere in Time, Your Name, When We First Met TV Shows: Outlander, Dr. Who, The King: Eternal Monarch Literature: The Dancer From Atlantis, Love and Gravity, A Knight in Shining Armor Games: Steins;Gate, Last Day of June, Area X 

Western Romance

This subgenre of romance incorporates setting elements of the “old west.” In particular, the American Frontier. Though often set in historical periods, this subgenre is not restricted to history, also including contemporary romance that prominently feature cowboy culture. This genre is also known as “cowboy romance.”

Movies:  The Misfits, Down in the Valley, Quigley Down Under TV Shows: Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, When Calls the Heart, The Young Riders Literature: Mackenzie’s Mountain, Bane, A Promise of Roses Games: Red Dead Redemption (Series)

This subgenre of romance features a teenage protagonist, a central love story, and an emotionally satisfying ending. The content of this genre is geared toward readers aged 12 – 18, and varies in depictions of sex, use of violence, gore, and profanity based on its intended target audience.

Movies:  10 Things I Hate About You, The Fault in Our Stars, A Walk to Remember TV Shows: Riverdale, Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks Literature: Fire, The Upside of Unrequited, American Panda Games: There is No Game: Wrong Dimension, Gone Home, Emily is Away Too

A genre of fiction that is categorized by eliciting emotions of suspense, anxiety, excitement, surprise, and anticipation. Thrillers often rely upon villains that a protagonist must overcome, and utilize plot devices such as red herrings, unreliable narrators, and cliff-hangers to achieve their desired emotional responses.

Movies:  Misery, The Last House on the Left, Dressed To Kill TV Shows: 24, Thriller, Mirzapur Literature: The Magus, The Secret History, I Let You Go Games: Evan’s Remains, The Occupation, The Inner Friend

This subgenre of thriller incorporates elements of action in order to advance the plot. 

Movies: Tenet, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Project Power TV Shows: Chuck, Alias, Mission Impossible Literature: Killing Floor, The Bourne Identity, Patriot Games Games: Sleeping Dogs, Heavy Rain, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

In this subgenre of thriller, the protagonists are usually amature detectives or journalists who find some kind of inconsistency, and, as they investigate, they uncover a conspiracy that exposes powerful people. 

Movies:  Flashpoint, The Capture, Edge of Darkness TV Shows: Burn Notice, Kidnapped, The Prisoner Literature: The Grotto’s Secret: A Historical Conspiracy, The DaVinci Code, The Manchurian Candidate Games: Assassin’s Creed II, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, XIII

In this subgenre of thriller, the plot revolves around a crime that must be stopped, or a criminal that must be apprehended by law enforcement, military, or some kind of vigilante.

Movies:  21 Bridges, Joker, The Mule TV Shows: Prison Break, Breaking Bad, Fargo Literature: The Missing American, The Majesties, The Moonstone Games: A Way Out, True Crime: Streets of LA, Hitman (Series)

In this subgenre of thriller, the plot revolves around a dangerous natural (or man-made) disaster such as a volcano, a flood, a tornado, a virus, or a nuclear event.

Movies:  Armageddon, The Wandering Earth, 2012 TV Shows: 10.5: Apocalypse, The Colony, Chernobyl  Literature: American War, Issac’s Storm, The Worst Hard Time Games: Disaster Report, Left Alive, Disaster: Day of Crisis

Also known as “spy fiction,” espionage thrillers incorporate elements of action and adventure with a plot that revolves around secrets, spies, and intelligence agencies.

Movies:  Atomic Blonde, Spectre: 007, Kingsmen: The Secret Service TV Shows: Homeland, The Bureau, Nikita Literature: The Scarlet Pimpernel, No Cloak, No Dagger, American Spy Games: Perfect Dark, Dishonored, Alpha Protocol

In this subgenre of thriller, the plot revolves around terrible murders or other crimes that must be solved by the use of forensic technology by a single investigator or a team of interdisciplinary operatives before the situation worsens. 

Movies:  Hannibal, Cut Off, Chasing Ghosts TV Shows: CSI: Miami, Quincey M.E., Stranger Literature: Body of Evidence, Bones are Forever, The Midwife Murders Games: L.A. Noir, CSI: Deadly Intent, Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Historical Thriller

In this subgenre of thriller, the plot has all the elements one would expect from the thriller genre, but the setting is in an earlier time period.

Movies: Braveheart, Titanic, The Patriot TV Shows: Marco Polo, Medici, Taboo Literature: The Terror, Child 44, The Count of Monte Cristo Games: Ghost of Tsushima, Call of Duty: WWII, A Plague Tale: Innocence

Legal Thriller

This subgenre of thriller revolves around a lawyer or legal team that seeks to protect their client from the antagonist’s legal team through utilization and study of the legal system. This can also spread outside of the courtroom with elements of action.

Movies:  Michael Clayton, High Crimes, The Rainmaker TV Shows: Law & Order: SVU, For Life, How to Get Away With Murder Literature: Anatomy of a Murder, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Covenant With Death Games: Ace Attorney (Series), Bohemian Killing, Aviary Attorney

Medical Thriller

This subgenre deals with the sinister side of medicine, plots may involve medically-minded antagonists who use their skills for murder, or deadly viruses that wreak havoc on a population, or protagonists that deal with medical mysteries.

Movies:  The Lazarus Effect, Pathology, Repo: The Genetic Opera TV Shows: Ratched, Third Watch, Code Black Literature: Mutant, Mind Catcher, The Surgeon  Games: Plague Inc: Evolved, Outlast, Town of Light

Military Thriller

This subgenre of thriller focuses on military objective or techology-based plots that are often global in scale. The protagonist is generally a part of the military, or former military.

Movies:  Tears of the Sun, Full Metal Jacket, Black Hawk Down TV Shows: American Odyssey, The Brave, Strike Back Literature: The Hunt for Red October, Sub-Sahara, The Third Age Games: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Battlefield, Wolfenstein: The New Order

Mystery Thriller

In this subgenre, the plot centers on a mystery that must be solved over the other elements that make up a general thriller. The mystery is often, but not always, an internal puzzle the protagonist must work out for themselves rather than a crime.

Movies:  Rear Window, Memento, The Body TV Shows: Lost, Tiny Pretty Things, Utopia Literature: Truly Devious, The Woman in the Window, Then She Was Gone Games: Max Payne, Telling Lies, Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders

Paranormal Thriller

This subgenre of thriller incorporates elements of horror. Rather than dread and disgust, paranormal thrillers evoke fight or flight responses through action and imagery.

Movies: The Sixth Sense,  TV Shows: The Twilight Zone,  Literature: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Shining, Interview With a Vampire Games: Fading Visage, Death of Rose, Dogman

Political Thriller

This subgenre features a plot set against the backdrop of a political power struggle. They usually involve corruption, organized crime, terrorism, or warfare as plot devices. Some are based on actual historical events.

Movies:  The Interpreter, All the President’s Men, The Man Who Knew Too Much TV Shows: House of Cards, Designated Survivor, Bodyguard Literature: The Three Musketeers, The Secret Agent, The Day of the Jackal Games: Floor 13: Deep State, Save Koch

Psychological Thriller

This subgenre is closely related to and sometimes overlaps with the psychological horror genre, but rather than focusing on primal fears and frightening scenarios, psychological thrillers create a sense of “dissolving reality.”

Movies:  The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Black Swan, Jacob’s Ladder TV Shows: Black Mirror, Damages, Death Note Literature: The Favorite Daughter, We’ll Never Be Apart, Doctor Sleep Games: Get Even, Silent Hill, Those Who Remain, Lockheart Indigo

Religious Thriller

This subgenre focuses on a mystery, conspiracy, or quest that involves religious artifacts, secrets, or fanaticism. The antagonists of religious thrillers are often zealots or supernatural beings from religious texts. 

Movies:  Mother!, The Ninth Gate, The Wicker Man  TV Shows: Messiah, A Handmaid’s Tale, The Exorcist Literature: Sanctus, The Sword of Moses, The DaVinci Code Games: BioShock, Blasphemous, Gray Dawn


This subgenre combines elements of adventure and thriller. These works are often characterised by heroic protagonists and honorable villains (though this is not always the case). Swashbuckler fiction nearly always incorporates sword fighting, heroic stunts, and romance. 

Movies:  Pirates of the Caribbean, The Princess Bride, Cutthroat Island TV Shows: Zorro, Queen of Swords, The Adventures of Robin Hood Literature: Treasure Island, Scaramouche, Shadow of the Conqueror  Games: Tales of Monkey Island, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Hero-U Rogue to Redemption


This is a hybrid genre that incorporates elements of thrillers, sci-fi, espionage, and/or military genres. In general, techno thrillers are detail-oriented action/adventure works set in the contemporary world. 

Movies:  Patriot Games, Swordfish, Jurassic Park TV Shows: Person of Interest, Biohackers, Mr. Robot Literature: Dark Matter, A Vision of Fire, Bandwidth Games: Born Punk, VirtuaVerse, Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma 

In this subgenre of thriller, the protagonist is a teenager with agency that must solve their own problems, often involving paranormal, psychological, or criminal terror. Special attention is given to the “feeling” of the story rather than the actual plot.

Movies: I Know What You Did Last Summer, House at the End of the Street, Unfriended TV Shows: Riverdale, Twisted, 13 Reasons Why, The Secret Circle Literature: Down a Dark Hall, Panic, The Doubt Factory Games: Detention, The Last of Us, Rule of Rose

A broad genre that generally means any fiction set in the late 19th and early 20th century in the Western United States, also known as “The Old West.” The plots usually revolve around a protagonist that is a cowboy, or a gunfighter. Recurring elements of this genre include conflict with Native Americans, bandits, “law men,” arid or desert landscapes, small towns, ranches, and other staples of “Old West” culture.

Movies:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Red River, Unforgiven TV Shows: The Son, Wynonna Earp, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Literature: The Ox-Bow Incident, Lonesome Dove, The Gunsmith Games: Luckslinger, 12 is Better than 6, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine 

Bounty Hunters

In this type of western, the plot revolves around a protagonist or gang that hunts outlaws for monetary gain. 

Movies:  Santee, The Hateful Eight, Seraphim Falls TV Shows: Trigun, Tate, Wanted Dead or Alive Literature: Yuma Prison Cashout, Epitaph, Firestick Games: Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Red Dead Redemption, Wild Guns

Cattle Drive

A subgenre of western fiction where the plot centers around a cattle drive–the act of moving cattle from one place to another, usually for sale.

Movies:  Open Range, Red River, Cattle Empire TV Shows: Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive, Rawhide, Cattle Drive Literature: Silverhills, Of Peaks and Prairies, The Trail Driver: A Western Story Games: Railway Empire, Cowboy Life Simulator


A subgenre of Westerns that is aimed at an audience of ages 3 – 7. Plots are simplistic and centered around heroic, cowboy protagonists.

Movies:  An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Home on the Range, Horse Crazy TV Shows: The Rifleman, The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid Literature: By the Great Horn Spoon!, Spirit Riding Free, The Gingerbread Cowboy Games: Cowboy Toddler, Disney Infinity: The Lone Ranger

A subgenre of western fiction set during the California gold rush during the first half of the 19th century.

Movies:  The Spoilers, The Call of the Wild, There Will Be Blood TV Shows: Klondike, Deadwood, White Fang Literature: Calico Palace, This Golden Valley, Walk on Earth a Stranger Games: 1849, Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West


This subgenre of western fiction revolves around a protagonist that is a lawman, outlaw, cowboy, shooting exibitionist, or a mercenary that makes their living by utilizing a firearm.

Movies:  Forsaken, Gallow Walkers, Tombstone TV Shows: Guns of Paradise, Gunslinger, Westworld Literature: Shane, Legend of a Gunfighter, Anything for Billy Games: Gun, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Darkwatch: Curse of the West

This subgenre of westerns is set during a period of mass land acquisition. Generally the setting is either The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 or the Land Run of 1893.

Movies:  Far and Away, Cimarron, Tumbleweeds TV Shows: (None) Literature: Emma’s Folly, Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, Beautiful Land: A Story of the Oklahoma Land Rush Games: (None)

This subgenre of westerns focuses on a protagonist that is a part of law-enforcement; generally a sheriff of a town, a Texas Ranger, or a U.S. Marshall.

Movies:  Hang ‘em High, Lawless, Appaloosa TV Shows: Lawman, Gunsmoke, Longmire Literature: Righteous Kill, The Evil Breed, The Lawman Games: The Gunstringer, Outlaws

Mountain Men

This subgenre of western focuses on a protagonist that is a “mountain man,” someone who lives off the land. 

Movies:  The Revenant, Jeremiah Johnson, The Mountain Men TV Shows: Daniel Boone, Mountain Men Literature: The Big Sky, Buffalo Palace, Mountain Man Games: Outlaws of the Old West, Mountain Man: A New Beginning

This subgenre of western fiction centers around a protagonist or group of protagonists that are ostracized or marginalized individuals; fugitives, exiles, or those opposed to the notion of “law and order.”

Movies:   True History of the Kelly Gang, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Young Guns TV Shows: Godless, Alias Smith and Jones, Outsiders Literature: The Outlaw Josey Wales, Way of the Outlaw, To Hell on a Fast Horse Games: Desperados III, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Prairie Settlement

This subgenre of western fiction centers on a protagonist or a family of protagonists usually set against the backdrop of the Great Plains region of the United States. Common themes of this genre are family, romance, and man against nature.

Movies:  Love Comes Softly, Little Women, Love’s Abiding Joy TV Shows: Little House on the Prairie, Ponderosa Literature: Little House in Brookfield, One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dedd, Jubilee Trail Games: Chico, Depraved, Heat: Homestead

This subgenre of westerns focuses on a protagonist who was wronged, and seeks justice by their own means.

Movies:  The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, The Quick and the Dead TV Shows: Have Gun – Will Travel, The Outcasts, The Tall Man  Literature: The Hell Bent Kid, True Grit, The Cold Dish: A Longmire Mystery Games: Red Dead Revolver, Wild Guns, Hard West

Wagon Train

A subgenre of westerns characterized by a journey from one destination to another by way of covered wagons. The protagonist is either part of the wagon train or becomes part of it after an event or payment.

Movies:  The Donner Party, The Way West, Meek’s Cutoff TV Shows: Wagon Train, Rawhide, Laramie Literature: Land of the Shining Mountains, Passage West, The Lost Wagon Train Games: Oregon Trail (Series), Outlaws of the Old West

This subgenre of westerns features a teenage protagonist, and content suitable for ages 12 – 18. This subgenre tends to mix themes and genres more than more adult-oriented westerns, and can be set during the past, present, future, alternate timeline, or alternate reality.

Movies:  Death in the Saddle, The Dark Tower, Young Guns TV Shows: McLeod’s Daughters, The Young Riders Literature: Year of the Horse, Space Cowboy, The Devil’s Paintbox Games: (None)

Literary Fiction Genres/Styles

These are styles for “literary fiction.” Literary fiction is distinguished by its character-driven plots, elevated writing style, exploration of subtleties in language, theme, and symbolism.


Postmodern literature is characterized by its use of metafiction (written in a way that reminds the reader that they are reading something that is fiction), unreliable narrator, self-referential dialogue, self-aware protagonists, and intertextuality (the ability for one work to refer to another.) While there are many other techniques and styles that fit under the broad umbrella that is “postmodernism,” these give the most generalized example of the style.

Movies:  Bladerunner, Pulp-Fiction, American Beauty TV Shows: Family Guy, The Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Literature: Breakfast of Champions, Catch-22, Gravity’s Rainbow Games: Bioshock: Infinite, Spec Ops: The Line, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

This style of literary fiction is characterized by using inner-monologue in a continuous “stream” or paragraph to convey the thoughts of a narrator or character. The thoughts of a character are associated with their actions, and are portrayed in the form of a monologue that addresses the character itself. This is unlike traditional monologue or soliloquy that addresses the audience. 

Movies:  Mirror, The Tree of Life, Synecdoche New York TV Shows: Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Eric Andre Show, Scrubs  Literature: Ulysses, Mrs. Dalloway, The British Museum is Falling Down Games: Undertale, SOMA, Dear Esther

Speculative Fiction Genres

Speculative fiction is a very broad category encompassing supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements that exist outside the realm of realism.

This is a broad genre that generally evokes feelings of shock, fear, and disgust. It is intended to frighten the reader or bring about feelings of loathing and dread.

Movies:  Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th TV Shows: American Horror Story, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Slasher Literature: IT, House of Leaves, Dracula Games: Until Dawn, Silent Hill, Resident Evil

Body Horror

This subgenre of horror utilizes disturbing depictions of the human body in various ways. Aberrant sex, mutations, mutilation, zombification, extreme violence/destruction, disease, and unnatural movment are all expressions of body horror.

Movies:  The Fly, The Thing, Eraserhead TV Shows: Parasyte: The Maxim, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story: Freakshow Literature: Books of Blood, Shiver, The Cipher Games: Bioshock, Resident Evil 4, Clive Barker’s Jericho, Inside

Creepy Kids

This subgenre utilizes underlying fear of children to unnerve the audience. Precocious speech, psychopathic behavior, and feigned innocence are all hallmarks of a “creepy child.” 

Movies:  Children of the Corn, Brighburn, Goodnight Mommy  TV Shows: The Haunting Hour, Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark Literature: Such Small Hands, The Butcher Boy, We Have Always Lived in the Castle Games: Fatal Frame, Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Lucious

Extreme Horror

This subgenre of horror is violent, gory, and often sexually explicit or exploitative. It is also known in literary circles as “splatterpunk,” while in cinema it has come to be known as “torture porn.” 

Movies:  Hostel, Martyrs, The Human Centipede, Saw (series) TV Shows: Wolf Creek, The Purge, Gantz Literature: The Woods are Dark, Battle Royale,This Symbiotic Fascination  Games: Resident Evil 7, Condemned: Criminal Origins, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

This subgenre of horror focuses on a single location, usually a house or a mansion, that is pervaded by a spirit or spirits.

Movies:  Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, Poltergeist TV Shows: American Horror Story: Murder House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Ghostwatch  Literature: The Shining, House of Leaves, The Grip of It Games: Paranormal, P.T., Anatomy


This subgenre of horror is focused on a fear of the unknowable based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, his Cthulu mythos, and other works that have since been absorbed into it. Unknowable, unidentifiable, and non-euclidean, are all words used to describe this type of horror. Nihilism and cosmicism are common themes.

Movies:  The Cabin in the Woods, The Color of Space,  TV Shows: Lovecraft Country, True Detective, The Outer Limits Literature: In the Mouth of Madness, The Ballad of Black Tom, Hammers on Bone Games: Bloodborne, The Sinking City, Pathologic

This subgenre of horror is characterized by the source of horror being created by human hands. This could be intentional, or a mistake. Often this overlaps with the science fiction or fantasy genres. Rogue A.I., Science Gone Wrong, Nuclear Fallout, Pollution, are all examples of man-made horror.

Movies: Tusk, Splice, Terminator TV Shows: Jekyll, Elfen Lied, NEXT Literature: Frankenstein, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Blood Music Games: Outlast, Metro (series), Galerians

This subgenre of horror focuses on beasts, creatures, and “the monster within.” The plot usually revolves around the protagonists falling victim to, and then attempting to destroy the monster in question. 

Movies:  A Quiet Place, Wildling, Animal TV Shows: October Faction, Supernatural, The Mist Literature: The Fisherman, The Day of the Triffids, Relic Games: Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Hunt: Showdown, Darkwood

This subgenre of horror deals with the esoteric and magickal (with a “k”) that exists outside the realm of religion. Occult Horror is almost always supernatural in that the strange or inexplicable elements are treated as “real” for the purposes of the plot.

Movies:  The Blair Witch Project, Apostle, Hereditary TV Shows: American Horror Story: Coven, Penny Dreadful, Twin Peaks Literature: The Damnation Game, The Burn Palace, The Ruins Games: The Dark Occult, Don’t Knock Twice, Outlast 2

Psychic Abilities

This subgenre of horror focuses on a protagonist or an antagonist that utilizes telepathy, telekinesis, mind control, or some other form of mind-driven power to create tension or perpetrate horrific acts.

Movies:  Carrie, The Fury, Evil Eye TV Shows: The Others, The Dead Zone, Midnight Texas Literature: Firestarter, Doctor Sleep, Carrion Comfort Games: The Medium, Galerians

Psychological Horror

This subgenre of horror focuses on mental, emotional, and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle its audience. This frequently overlaps with psychological thrillers, and often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action, and paranoia of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.

Movies:  Possum, Green Room, Funny Games TV Shows: American Horror Story: Asylum, Hannibal, Bates Motel Literature: Whoever Fights Monsters, Misery, The Deep Games: Silent Hill, Layers of Fear, Alan Wake, Hellblade: Sensua’s Sacrifice

Slasher Horror

In this subgenre of horror, the plot centers on a group of protagonists that are murdered by another person, often with bladed weapons. This genre is often lumped in with extreme horror, but tropes associated with the genre such as trauma triggering the killer, a pattern or anniversary date, and “the final girl” establish it as its own separate category. 

Movies:  Candy Man, Child’s Play, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre TV Shows: Slasher, Scream, Scream Queens Literature: The Killing Kind, The Kult, The Lost Games: Friday the 13th: The Game, Dead by Daylight, Clock Tower 3

Supernatural Horror

This subgenre of horror combines with elements of supernatural movies such as spirits, demons, humanoid monsters, and depictions of the afterlife. This subgenre is very broad and could include most horror with supernatural elements.

Movies:  Eli, Insidious, Let the Right One In TV Shows: Hemlock Grove, The Returned, Stranger Things Literature: Hell House, Pet Cemetery, Dead of Night  Games: Phasmophobia, Prey, SCP-Containment Breach

See Supernatural Romance under Fantasy

This subgenre of horror uses subtlety and suspense to create terror rather than an abundance of overt frightening imagery. Movies: Midsommar, Under the Skin, Rosemary’s Baby, It Follows TV Shows: Castle Rock, The Third Day, Black Mirror Literature: Nightscript, The Green Man, The Black Carousel Games: Doki Doki Literature Club, Theresia, My Father’s Long Long Legs

Fantasy is a broad genre that consists of magical and supernatural elements that do not exist in the real world. This can be the presence of magic, supernatural or mythical creatures, variances in the laws of physics, or the presence of preternatural gods.

Movies:  Labyrinth, The Chronicles of Narnia, Life of Pi TV Shows: Cursed, The Order, The Umbrella Academy Literature: The Name of the Wind, The Color of Magic, Watership Down Games: Warcraft (series), Divinity (series), Outward


Contemporary fantasy incorporates fantasy elements into a setting that is appropriate for the time period being created. It is one of the largest subgenres of fantasy and is best known for its sub-genre “urban fantasy.”

Movies: Underworld, Bridge to Terbithia, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory TV Shows: Witches of East End, Being Human, Hex Literature: American Gods, The Dresden Files (series), A Wrinkle in Time Games: Vampyr, Devil May Cry (DMC), Disco Elysium

Dark Fantasy

This subgenre of fantasy combines elements of horror, with an oppressive atmosphere, graphic violence, and mature themes to create a “gritty” feeling fantasy that is grounded, and often brutal.

Movies:  Legend, Pan’s Labyrinth,  The Crow TV Shows: Berserk, Game of Thrones, The Chilling Tales of Sabrina Literature: The Black Company, The Dark Tower, Prince of Thorns Games: Demon’s Souls, Darkest Dungeon, Grim Dawn

This subgenre of fantasy features succinct stories featuring animals, legendary creatures, inanimate objects, and forces of nature that confer a moral, or lesson at the end. A fable differs from a “parable” in that parables do not use fantastical elements to convey their stories.

Movies:  Where the Wild Things Are, Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish TV Shows: Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, The Charmings Literature: The Alchemist, Aesop’s Fables, The Little Prince Games: Fable (series), Dragon’s Dogma, The Last Guardian

This subgenre of fantasy is generally intended for children and involves fantastical or enchanting characters, a simple story structure, and generally has a happy ending.

Movies:  Shrek, Cinderella, Hook TV Shows: Faerie Tale Theatre, The 10th Kingdom, Once Upon a Time Literature: The Juniper Tree, The Snow Queen, Haroun and the Sea of Stories Games: Cinders, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Moonlighter

Fantasy of Manners

This subgenre of fiction is characterized by traditional romances, low magic, high plot complexity, and low violence. The focus of the plot is generally on the characters and their politics. The setting is a fantastical place with a strict hierarchical structure, and its conflicts are within a family or society rather than an opposing force. A typical fantasy of manners tale will involve a romantic adventure that turns on some point of social conduct or intrigue. Some works that are  considered “fantasy of manners” could be also considered historical fiction were it not for their almost entirely fictional settings.

Note: This is a fairly new genre, and as such its definition is still being debated upon by the community. The examples below are the closest we could find to provide examples. The literary examples are spot on, and we encourage you to read those if you’re interested in the genre. Movies, film, and games have yet to catch on to the trend.

Movies:  The Exterminating Angel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Shamer’s Daughter TV Shows: Camelot, Faith (Shinui), Ja Myung Go Literature: Swordspoint, A Natural History of Dragons,The Goblin Emperor Games: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Suikoden II, The Witcher II: Assassins of Kings

Heroic Fantasy

This subgenre of fantasy is centered on the adventures of a single heroic character or group of characters that are perceived as the underdogs in their conflicts. This is the most important distinction between heroic fantasy and “sword & sorcery.” The protagonist isn’t weighed down by a lot of flaws, and their actions come from a desire to do good.

Movies: The Last Unicorn, Willow, The Black Cauldron TV Shows: Legend of the Seeker, Dungeons & Dragons, The Owl House Literature: The Lord of the Rings, The Kingkiller Chronicles, The Wheel of Time Games: The Legend of Zelda (series), Chrono Trigger, Kingdom Hearts

High Fantasy

Sometimes called “epic fantasy,” high fantasy is a border subgenre with stories set in a magical environment that has its own rules and physical laws. This subgenre’s plots and themes have a grand scale and typically center on a single, well-developed hero or a band of heroes. Though High fantasy is a subgenre in itself, most fantasy works fall into either “High” or “Low” fantasy, and then into smaller subgenres.

Movies:    TV Shows: Record of Lodoss War, The Dragon Prince, Camelot Literature: Mistborn (series), The Earthsea Cycle, The Stormlight Archives Games: Pillars of Eternity, Baldur’s Gate III, The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt

Low Fantasy

Set in the real world, low fantasy includes unexpected magical elements that surprise ordinary characters. An alternative definition, common in role-playing games, rests on the story and characters being more realistic and less mythic in scope. The former definition applies to the majority of works.

Movies:  The Borrowers, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Constantine TV Shows: Good Omens, True Blood, Deus Salve O Rei (God Save the King), Game of Thrones Literature: That Hideous Strength, Tuck Everlasting, The Bone Clocks,  Games: Valkyria Chronicles (series), Risen, Darklands

Magical Realism

While similar to low fantasy, magical realism paints a realistic world, and then adds magical elements to make a point about the world. Most importantly, the characters do not acknowledge the magic as strange, or out of place.

Movies:  The Fall, Bright, Christopher Robin TV Shows: Pushing Daisies, Strange Girl in a Strange Land, Northern Exposure Literature: One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Midnight’s Children Games: Kentucky Route Zero, What Remains Of Edith Finch, The Darkness

This subgenre of fantasy focuses on themes common to myths, and digs into the milieu. The names and powers of the gods, and the mythical or supernatural creatures that inhabit the fantasy world vary in some way from their more traditional counterparts. Elements of legend and folklore may be included, although they are just as likely to be completely original as to hearken back to some familiar mythical figures.

Movies: Clash of the Titans, Princess Mononoke, Beowulf TV Shows: American Gods, Blood of Zeus, Merlin Literature: Mists of Avalon, The Silmarillion, The Red Pyramid Games: God of War, Darksiders (series), Too Human

This fantasy subgenre combines romantic themes with fantasy elements like vampires, werewolves, shifters, faeries, and zombies. Many contemporary fantasy series blur the line between urban fantasy stories, coming-of-age tales, and paranormal romances.

Movies:  Stardust, Twilight, Warm Bodies TV Shows: Beautiful Creatures, Dream Knight, Phantom of the Theatre Literature: Halfway to the Grave, Dark Lover, Interview With a Vampire Games: Dark Nights with Poe and Munro, The Last Act, Tell a Demon

This highly specific subgenre combines the Victorian science and technology of the Industrial Revolution with contemporary takes on robots and machines. As such, steampunk fantasy is, at once, alternate history, science fantasy, and a modern fantasy—although the specifics vary with specific works. 

Movies: Mortal Engines, Hugo, April and the Extraordinary World TV Shows: Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Carnival Row, Steamboy Literature: Soulless, Deepgate Codex (series), The Difference Engine Games: Thief (series), Torchlight II, Frostpunk

Also known as comic fantasy or comic book fantasy, this is a subgenre of fantasy in which the hero acquires special abilities through scientific means, such as exposure to radiation, the protagonists’ powers. In more fantastical superhero stories, the powers are supernatural. Many superhero stories are set in a low fantasy world—one that’s quite similar to our own world.

Movies:  Man of Steel, The Avengers, Spawn TV Shows: Smallville, Titans, The Umbrella Academy, Cloak and Dagger Literature: Watchmen, Soon I Will Be Invincible, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Games: Crackdown, Saints Row IV, Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Sword & Sorcery

A subset of high fantasy, this subgenre focuses on sword-wielding heroes as well as magic or witchcraft. Events occur in a world where magic is prevalent and modern technology is non-existent. The setting may be entirely fictitious in nature or based upon earth with some additions. Characters in S&S stories are, in general, morally ambiguous.

Movies:  Conan the Barbarian, Dragonslayer, Ladyhawke TV Shows: Wizards and Warriors, JourneyQuest, Roar Literature: Elric Of Melinbone, The Axe and the Throne, The Broken Sword Games: The Banner Saga, Dragon Age (series), The Witcher (Series)

Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy is a genre in which fantastical characters and concepts are placed in a real world urban setting. Often in the present day. Urban fantasy stories often draw from noir and gritty police procedurals. They also may incorporate fantastical elements and supernatural creatures. These could involve zombies, vampires, druids, demons, wizardry, witchcraft, and other such fantasy tropes.

Movies:  Bright, Highlander, Hellboy TV Shows: Fate/Stay Night, What We Do in the Shadows, The Rook Literature: Borderland, City of Bones, Fire & Heist Games: Vampire: The Masquerade, Persona (series), Remnant: From the Ashes

This subgenre is rooted in Chinese culture. It involves elements of fantasy interspersed with martial arts. 

Movies: Seven Swords, Forbidden Kingdom, The Legend of Zu TV Shows: The Flame’s Daughter, Ice Fantasy, Ever Night Literature: Jade City, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Across the Nightingale Floor Games: Jade Empire, Gujian 3,  Xuan Yuan Sword: The Gate of Firmament

Science Fiction

This very broad genre of speculative fiction is based on imagined future science or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

Movies:  Transformers, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Star Trek TV Shows: Farscape, Stargate: Atlantis, Torchwood Literature: The Blazing World, Foundation, The Stars My Destination Games: Portal, Eve Online, Doom

This subgenre of science fiction deals with extraterrestrial experiences, alien life, and weapons from other planets.

Movies:  Arrival, Signs, E.T. The Extraterrestrial TV Shows: Falling Skies, Nightflyer, Colony Literature: War of the Worlds, A Princess of Mars, The Left Hand of Darkness Games: Destroy All Humans, Quake, Pikmin

Alternative History

This subgenre of science fiction focuses on stories in which one or more historical events occur differently. These stories usually contain “what if” scenarios at crucial points in history and present outcomes other than those in the historical record. The stories are conjectural but are sometimes based on fact.

Movies:  Red Dawn, Never Let Me Go, Yesterday TV Shows: The Man in the High Castle, The Plot Against America, For All Mankind Literature: Fatherland, Bring the Jubilee, The Years of Rice and Salt Games: Resistance: Fall of Man, The Order 1886, We Happy Few

Alternate/Parallel Universe

In this subgenre of science fiction, the story is set in a “universe” or “parallel dimension” that is not the real world in this time. This might also refer to a parallel universe within a fictional universe.

Movies:  Source Code, The One, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension TV Shows: Westworld, Fringe, Sense 8 Literature: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Future of Another Timeline, The Light Brigade Games: Chrono Cross, Neir, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions


Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction are subgenres of science fiction that are set in a time period where the earth as we know it is coming to an end. Post-apocalyptic novels almost always take place in the future, although some describe the end of past civilizations that no longer exist.

Movies:  Mad Max: Fury Road, World War Z, I Am Legend TV Shows: The Rain, The 3%, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Literature: The Stand, The Road, Station Eleven Games: Fallout 4, Wasteland 2, Days Gone

In this subgenre of science fiction, the focus is on biotechnology. It is derived from cyberpunk, but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Biopunk is concerned with synthetic biology.

Movies:  Repo Men, Antiviral, eXistenZ TV Shows: Dark Angel, Orphan Black, ReGenesis Literature: The Ware Tetralogy, Brave New World, The Windup Girl Games: Prototype, Killing Floor, Terranigma


This subgenre of science fiction is about colonies on other worlds. This also includes colonies set up in artificial environments on orbital satellites. Humans may start a colony for various reasons such as: overpopulation on Earth, the Earth becomes uninhabitable, pure exploration and discovery, search and acquisition of resources, threat of human extinction, or some other reason.

Movies:  Alien: Covenant, Titan A.E., The Martian TV Shows: Lost in Space, Oasis, Earth 2 Literature: The Word for World is Forest, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Dark Eden Games: Aven Colony, Planet Colonization, Oxygen Not Included

This subgenre of science fiction is set in a dystopian futuristic world that tends to have a lower standard of living for the majority and high tech for all. Advanced technological and scientific achievements such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics are juxtaposed with a breakdown or radical change in the social order.

Movies:  Bladerunner 2049, Mute, The Matrix TV Shows: Ghost in the Shell, Dark Angel, Hotel Artemis Literature: Neuromancer, Snowcrash, Mona Lisa Overdrive Games: Cyberpunk 2077, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, Perfect Dark

Dying Earth

In this subgenre of science fiction, the focus is on the far future at either the end of life on Earth or the end of time, when the laws of the universe themselves fail. Themes of world-weariness, innocence, idealism, entropy, exhaustion/depletion of many or all resources, and the hope of renewal dominate.

Movies:  Water World, Mad Max: Road Warrior, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind TV Shows: Defiance, Terra Nova Literature: Hothouse, The Pastel City, As the Curtain Falls Games: Death Stranding, NieR: Automata, Phantom Dust

This subgenre of science fiction offers a bleak vision of the future. Dystopias are societies in cataclysmic decline, with characters who battle environmental ruin, technological control, and government oppression. Dystopian stories challenge the audience to think differently about current social and political climates, and in some instances can even inspire action.

Movies:  Idiocracy, Snowpiercer, Equilibrium TV Shows: The Handmaid’s Tale, Into the Badlands, The 100 Literature: Fahrenheit 451, 1984, The Hunger Games (series) Games: Papers Please, Not Tonight, Black The Fall

Galactic Empire

This subgenre of science fiction deals with a galaxy-wide society that is ruled by a single governing entity known as a “galactic empire.” Characterization of galactic empires can vary wildly from malevolent forces attacking sympathetic victims to apathetic bureaucracies to more reasonable entities focused on social progress, and anywhere in between.

Movies:  Dune, Captain Marvel, The Last Starfighter TV Shows: She-Ra and the Princess of Power, Andromeda, Stargate SG-1 Literature: Flesh and Gold, The Lightship Chronicles, The Foundation Games: Warhammer 40k, Rogue Galaxy, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight

Generation Ship

The setting or plot for this subgenre of science fiction revolves around a ship, or other mode of transportation that is a self-sustaining community made to house humans until they reach their intended destination. This usually involves a dying earth scenario where the occupants of the hsip are meant to colonize another world after living on the ship for many generations.

Movies:  Interstellar, WALL-E, Battle for Terra TV Shows: Ascension, The Starlost, Earth Star Voyager Literature: Aurora, Darkness Beyond the Stars, Riding the Torch Games: Phantasy Star III, Marathon, Homeworld

Hard Science Fiction

This subgenre of science fiction is characterized by concern for scientific accuracy and logic. Hard science fiction exists inside the realm of scientific possibility. That is, anything that occurs in the story is not outside the known physical laws of the universe.

Movies:  Gattaca, Apollo 18, Ex Machina TV Shows: Men into Space, ReGenisis, Star Cops Literature: Brave New World, The Mars Trilogy, Murasaki Games: Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Eliza, Localhost


This sub-genre is about eternal life, existing for an infinite amount of time, immortality. Science Fiction presents immortality as either a blessing and full of limitless opportunity, or as a curse–the end of change and full of restlessness and stagnation. Regardless of outlook, a story about immortality includes both freedom from aging and rejuvenation because immortality is undesirable without both.

Movies: The Man From Earth, Blade of the Immortal, The Fountain TV Shows: The Highlander, The Old Guard, Immortals Literature: Holy Fire, The Eden Cycle, The Hollow Lands Games: Lost Odyssey, Immortal: Unchained, The Turing Test

Lost Worlds

This subgenre of science fiction involves the discovery of an unknown world out of time, place, or both.

Movies:  Jurassic Park III, The Valley of Gwangi, Kong: Skull Island TV Shows: The Lost World, Land of the Lost, Dinotopia Literature: Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Moon Pool, The Land That Time Forgot Games: Lost Planet, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Xenogears

Military Science Fiction

In this subgenre of science fiction, the use of science fiction technology is used mainly for weapons and military purposes. Generally, the protagonists are members of a military organization involved in a war in outer space or on a different planet or planets.

Movies:  Edge of Tomorrow, Starship Troopers, Independence Day TV Shows: Macross, Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse Literature: The Forever War, Ender’s Game, Valiant Dust Games: Halo (series), Earth Defense Force (series), Contra

Mind Transfer

This subgenre of science fiction involves the transference of a mind into another body, a computer, a mechanical object, or an alien body. The mind may be transferred in various ways: via computer, some kind of psi power, the ability of an alien, physical brain transplantation, or by some other means.

Movies:  Transfer, Black Box, Avatar TV Shows: Altered Carbon, A Feladat, Femte generationen  Literature: The World of Null-A, Kiln People, I Will Fear No Evil Games: Assassin’s Creed, Transistor, Warframe

Mundane Science Fiction

This subgenre of science fiction is typically characterized by its setting on Earth or within the Solar System; a lack of interstellar travel, intergalactic travel or human contact with extraterrestrials; and a believable use of technology and science as it exists at the time the story is written or a plausible extension of existing technology.

Movies:  Children of Men, Moon, Her TV Shows: Osmosis, Years and Years, Moonbase 3 Literature: The Second Sleep, Titan, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Games: RimWorld, Outpost, Children of the Dead Earth

Mythic Science Fiction

This subgenre of science fiction is rooted in, or drawn from fables, mythology, folklore, or fairy tales. The story may retell the myth entirely or draw from the tropes, themes, and symbolism of the myth.

Movies:  Splash, Troll Hunter, Time Bandits TV Shows: Asur: Welcome to Your Dark Side, Stargate: Atlantis, The Librarians Literature: Rendezvous with Rama, Queen of Air and Darkness, Watch the North Wind Rise Games: Too Human, Destiny 2,  Assassins Creed: Odyssey

This subgenre of science fiction describes a world where nanites are widely in use and nanotechnologies are the predominant technological forces in society. This is a very new genre that falls somewhere in the middle of cyberpunk and biopunk. Unlike cyberpunk which focuses on “high-tech, low-life,” nanopunk can have either a pessimistic outlook on nanotechnology, or an optimistic one.

Movies: Transcendence, Osmosis Jones, The Day the Earth Stood Still TV Shows: Generator Rex, Big Hero 6: The Series, Altered Carbon Literature: Queen City Jazz, The Diamond Age, Nanopunk  Games: Crysis, Anarchy Online, Deus Ex


This subgenre of science fiction deals with robotics, mechanization, artificial intelligence, and the physical, ethical, or existential dilemmas that might arise from each. 

Movies: A.I., Terminator, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Chappie TV Shows: Westworld, Humans, Knight Rider Literature: Crier’s War, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Midnight Robber Games: The Talos Principle, Nier: Automata, Detroit: Become Human

Science Fantasy

This subgenre blends tropes and fantastical elements from the fantasy genre with science fiction. A work of science fantasy can include both dragons and robots, magic swords and aliens.

Movies:  Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, TRON, Transformers (Series) TV Shows: Babylon 5, Power Rangers (Series), Tin Man Literature: Apprentice Adept, Artemis Fowl, The Dark Tower (Series) Games: Final Fantasy (VII, VIII, X, XIII), Asura’s Wrath, ELEX

Science Horror

This subgenre combines elements of horror with elements of science fiction, often revolving around subjects that include but are not limited to alien invasions, mad scientists, and/or experiments gone wrong.

Movies:  Mimic, The Thing, 28 Days Later TV Shows: Helix, Sapphire and Steel, Black Mirror Literature: Amina, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Tommyknockers Games: Dead Space (series), SOMA, Alien: Isolation

Soft Science Fiction

Soft science fiction of either type is often more concerned with character and speculative societies, rather than speculative science or engineering. It explores the “soft” sciences, and especially the social sciences (for example, anthropology, sociology, or psychology), rather than engineering or the “hard” sciences (for example, physics, astronomy, or chemistry).

It is not scientifically accurate or plausible; the opposite of hard science fiction.

Movies:  Predator, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Pacific Rim TV Shows: Farscape, Firefly, Dark Matter Literature: The Languages of Pao, Dune, The Last Policeman Games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Starcraft (series), Half-Life

Space Exploration

This subgenre of science fiction revolves around stories of visiting other worlds, investigating strange phenomena, and generally exploring the vastness of space.

Movies:  Ad Astra, Lucy in the Sky, Prospect TV Shows: Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Orville, Away Literature: We Are Legion (We Are Bob), Revelation Space, Gateway Games: Outer Wilds, Kerbal Space Program, No Man’s Sky

Space Opera

This subgenre of science fiction emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking.

Movies:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Jupiter Ascending, Star Wars: A New Hope TV Shows: Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Literature: Hyperion Cantos (series), Fire Upon the Deep, Vorkosigan Saga (series) Games: Mass Effect 3, Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope, Zone of Enders

This subgenre of science fiction centers around the adventures of a protagonist, or protagonists working as secret agents or spies. The plot usually revolves around defeating a rival superpower or singular enemy bent on world domination, world destruction, obtaining futuristic weapons, or something else. Settings vary from outright fantasy, such as outer space or under the sea, to real but exotic locations. Spy-Fi does not necessarily present espionage as it is practiced in reality but rather glamorizes spy-craft through its focus on high-tech equipment, agencies, and organizations with nearly limitless resources and incredibly high-stakes adventures.

Movies:  Quantum of Solace, Tenet, Face-Off TV Shows: Kingsmen, Mission Impossible, The Avengers (British) Literature: The Baroness, Crown of Slaves, The Bourne Identity Games: Global Agenda, Alpha Protocol, Invisible Inc.


(Also see Steampunk, Fantasy) Steampunk is a retro-futuristic subgenre of science fiction that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. It borrows elements of many different genres, notably fantasy, horror, alternative history, and other speculative fiction.

Movies:  Wild Wild West, Howl’s Moving Castle, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV Shows: The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, Carnival Row, His Dark Materials Literature: Rising Steam,  Games: Final Fantasy IX, Thief (series), Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

Time Travel

This subgenre of science fiction focuses on stories in which travelling to the past or future is possible. Paradoxes are a common trope of time travel stories, and often the protagonist or protagonists must make decisions based on knowledge gleaned from both ends of their timeline.

Movies:  A Promise of Time Travel, Primer, Looper TV Shows: Dr. Who, 12 Monkeys, Travelers Literature: The Time Machine, A Sound of Thunder, Life The Universe and Everything Games: Chrono Trigger, Quantum Break, Singularity

In this subgenre of science fiction, advancement of scientific knowledge transforms society into a utopia. The plot usually revolves around the protagonist or protagonists who gain knowledge that shifts their perspectives. Most utopian sci-fi works also include dystopian elements in order to create conflict that drives the plot.

Movies: Tomorrowland, Gandahar, Logan’s Run TV Shows: Star Trek, Utopia Planitia,  Utopia Falls Literature: The Giver, Looking Backward, The Sunken World Games: Watch Dogs, Mirror’s Edge, Bioshock: Infinite 

This subgenre of science fiction focuses on a teenage protagonist, and the material contained within is easily understood and digested by ages 12 to 18. 

Movies:  Maze Runner (series), Weird Science, Attack the Block TV Shows: Star-Crossed, The Tomorrow People, Roswell Literature: Cinder, Divergent, The 5th Wave Games: The Longest Journey, .hack//Infection, The Last of Us

This genre falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream works employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these works is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real. The three basic characteristics of a slipstream narrative are: it disrupts the principle of realism, it is not a traditional fantasy story, and it is a postmodern narrative. As an emerging genre, slipstream has been described as non-realistic fiction with a postmodern sensibility. It is meant to evoke a sense of “otherness” or cognitive dissonance in the audience.

Movies: Slipstream, The Ninth Configuration, Time Bandits TV Shows: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Signal, The Booth at the End Literature: Ice, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, The Cyberiad Games: The Stanley Parable, Antichamber, Superliminal

Speculative Fiction is a bit of a catch all or umbrella genre. All fantasy and science fiction can be termed speculative fiction. However, speculative can also describe a story that uses science fiction elements or fantasy elements or elements of both. 

Movies: Star Wars, Donnie Darko, The Lobster TV Shows: The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, The Handmaid’s Tale, Adventure Time Literature: The Story Of Your Life, Station Eleven, Red Clocks Games: BioShock, Horizon Zero Dawn, Sid Meier’s Civilization


While no means an exhaustive list of all sources used for this guide–many of which are pulled from their own original sources and analysis of the text–here are the primary citations we used.

Ashland University Library Guides ( Link )  Arapahoe Libraries ( Link )  The Artifice ( Link ) (S.C. Barrus’s Blog) ( Link ) ( Link )  Biopunkland ( Link ) Best Sci Fi Books ( Link ) BookRiot ( Link 1 , Link 2 ) ( Link )  IMDB ( Link ) Industrial Scripts ( Link ) ( Link ) ( Link ) ( Link )  Toledo Library ( Link )  TVTropes ( Link ) WriteOnSisters ( Link )  Writer’s Digest ( Link ) 

Dalton Drake

Dalton (Dalza) Drake is a novelist, cosplayer, and 4th degree blackbelt from Texas. Instagram: @sword_gaijin | YouTube: Dalza Gaming

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Mark Kelly

I am about to submit a story to a literary agent and was feeling unsure about specifying its genre. I found your classifications very helpful, particularly where you give examples for comparison although I suggest having more than three in each category would be helpful.


What genre would be of childhood tragedies

21 of the Most Popular Book Genres, Explained

Trust us, this is interesting.

Old Books Arranged On Shelf

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But when you're a major reader, it's easy to get caught up in what seems to be an endless array of genres that sometimes seem to box you in. Do you prefer sci-fi or fantasy? (But wait, are they the same thing?) What are the key differences between a thriller and a mystery ? Oh, and what does "literary fiction" even mean?

For all you bibliophiles who would like these burning questions answered, we've listed—and defined—the most popular book genres in both fiction and nonfiction so you'll know exactly what to look for during your next visit to the bookstore .

Fiction : " Something invented by the imagination or feigned" - Merriam-Webster

Action and Adventure

Action and adventure books constantly have you on the edge of your seat with excitement, as your fave main character repeatedly finds themselves in high stakes situations. The protagonist has an ultimate goal to achieve and is always put in risky, often dangerous situations. This genre typically crosses over with others like mystery, crime, sci-fi, and fantasy. ( Harry Potter anyone? )

Life of Pi

The Three Musketeers

The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild

You may think of these books as the throwback readings you were assigned in English class. (Looking at you, Charles Dickens .) The classics have been around for decades, and were often groundbreaking stories at their publish time, but have continued to be impactful for generations, serving as the foundation for many popular works we read today.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Little Women

Little Women


Vintage Beloved

Comic book or graphic novel.

The stories in comic books and graphic novels are presented to the reader through engaging, sequential narrative art (illustrations and typography) that's either presented in a specific design or the traditional panel layout you find in comics. With both, you'll often find the dialogue presented in the tell-tale "word balloons" next to the respective characters.


The Walking Dead: Compendium One

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Detective and mystery.

The plot always revolves around a crime of sorts that must be solved—or foiled—by the protagonists.

The Night Fire

The Night Fire

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

While usually set in a fictional imagined world—in opposition, Ta-Nehisi's Coates's The Water Dancer takes place in the very real world of American slavery— fantasy books include prominent elements of magic, mythology, or the supernatural.

The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer


Ninth House

Historical fiction.

These books are based in a time period set in the past decades, often against the backdrop of significant (real) historical events.

The Help

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Memoirs of a Geisha

Vintage Memoirs of a Geisha

Meant to cause discomfort and fear for both the character and readers, horror writers often make use of supernatural and paranormal elements in morbid stories that are sometimes a little too realistic. The master of horror fiction? None other than Stephen King .


The Haunting of Hill House

Bird Box

Literary Fiction

Though it can be seen as a broad genre that encompasses many others, literary fiction refers to the perceived artistic writing style of the author. Their prose is meant to evoke deep thought through stories that offer personal or social commentary on a particular theme.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing

Olive, Again

Olive, Again

The Dutch House: A Novel

The Dutch House: A Novel

Oh romance, how could we ever resist you? The genre that makes your heart all warm and fuzzy focuses on the love story of the main protagonists. This world of fiction is extremely wide-reaching in and of itself, as it has a variety of sub-genres including: contemporary romance, historical, paranormal, and the steamier erotica . If you're in need of any suggestions, we've got a list of the best romances of all time and the top picks of the year.

Brazen and the Beast

Brazen and the Beast

Royal Holiday

Royal Holiday

The Savior

Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)

Though they're often thought of in the same vein as fantasy, what distinguishes science fiction stories is that they lean heavily on themes of technology and future science. You'll find apocalyptic and dystopian novels in the sci-fi genre as well.

The Testaments

Nan A. Talese The Testaments

The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy


Short Stories

Though they encompass many of the genres we describe here, short stories are brief prose that are significantly, well, shorter than novels. Writers strictly tell their narratives through a specific theme and a series of brief scenes, though many authors compile these stories in wide-ranging collections, as featured below.

This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her


How Long 'til Black Future Month?

Suspense and thrillers.

While they often encompass the same elements as mystery books, the suspense and thriller genre sees the hero attempt to stop and defeat the villain to save their own life rather than uncover a specific crime. Thrillers typically include cliffhangers and deception to encourage suspense, while pulling the wool over the eyes of both the main character and reader.

Gone Girl

The 19th Christmas

The Guardians

The Guardians

Women's fiction.

Another genre that encompasses many others, women's fiction is written specifically to target female readers, often reflecting on the shared experiences of being a woman in society and the protagonist's personal growth.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer

The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts

Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone

Nonfiction : "Writing or cinema that is about facts and real events" - Merriam-Webster

Biographies and Autobiographies

Serving as an official account of the details and events of a person's life span, autobiographies are written by the subject themselves, while biographies are written by an author who is not the focus of the book.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Traditionally penned by professional chefs or even your favorite celebs , cookbooks offer an appetizing collection of recipes, specific to a theme, cuisine, or experience chosen by the author.

Cravings: Hungry for More

Cravings: Hungry for More

The Jemima Code

The Jemima Code

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1

Typically written in the first-person, writers use their own personal experiences to reflect on a theme or topic for the reader. Many acclaimed authors—like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison—combine these pieces into collections of social commentary.

Notes of a Native Son

Notes of a Native Son

Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist

The Source of Self-Regard

The Source of Self-Regard

These books chronicle and layout a specific moment in time, with a goal to educate and inform the reader, looking at all parts of the world at any given moment.

John Adams

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

While a form of autobiography, memoirs are more flexible in that they typically don't feature an extensive chronological account of the writer's life. Instead, they focus on key moments and scenes that communicate a specific message or lesson to the reader about the author.

Born a Crime

Born a Crime


The Glass Castle

With poetry—a form of written art— authors choose a particular rhythm and style to evoke and portray various emotions and ideas. Sometimes the message is clear (like a straight-forward love poem ) while with others, the meaning is hidden behind a play on words—it all depends on the writer's style, intent, and chosen theme.

Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems

Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems

The Sun and Her Flowers

The Sun and Her Flowers

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

Whether the focus is on emotional well-being , finances, or spirituality, self-help books center on encouraging personal improvement and confidence in a variety of facets of your life.

Everything Is F*cked

Harper Everything Is F*cked

Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead

The Secret

Like its much-loved television counterparts, true crime books chronicle and examine actual crimes and events in exacting detail, with many focusing on infamous murders, kidnappings, and the exploits of serial killers.

Catch and Kill

Catch and Kill

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter

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McKenzie Jean-Philippe is the editorial assistant at covering pop culture, TV, movies, celebrity, and lifestyle. She loves a great Oprah viral moment and all things Netflix—but come summertime, Big Brother has her heart. On a day off you'll find her curled up with a new juicy romance novel.

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Book Genres: 85 Genres & Subgenres of Fiction & Nonfiction

Book genre list | book genres, last updated on: october 16, 2022, action and adventure fiction, classic fiction, contemporary fiction, dystopian fiction, fantasy fiction, graphic novel, historical fiction, horror fiction, lgbtq+ fiction, literary fiction, mystery fiction, romance fiction, satire fiction, science fiction, short story, thriller fiction, utopian fiction, western fiction, women’s fiction, young adult, nonfiction genres, art and photography, historical nonfiction, how-to and diy, memoir and autobiography, religion and spirituality, book genres.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, navigating the world of books can sometimes be tricky. You like a book, but what genre is it, and how can you find more like it? Or how can you write one like it? Often genres seem to overlap. Is it historical fiction with a twist of romance or romance with a twist of historical fiction? Here we break down the top 33 book genres across fiction and nonfiction, with a look at their 52 subgenres.

Action and adventure books often follow a structure known as the Hero’s Journey, in which the protagonist has a goal to achieve, but is put in risky, often dangerous situations order to achieve said goal. In short, the protagonist is going to spend an awful lot of time fighting for survival before finally beating the odds and succeeding in their mission. These books are characterized by edge-of-your-seat tension, leaving readers wondering from page to page how the protagonist can possibly extract himself (or herself!) from their latest obstacle. The fast-paced action keeps the pages moving along, rarely giving the reader a moment to catch their breath before diving into the next challenge.

Action and adventure typically crosses over into many other genres, including mystery, sci-fi, crime, and fantasy.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the action and adventure fiction book genre

Classic books are typically considered noteworthy or exemplary. These are books that stand the test of time. Love them or hate them, they are the ones often taught in schools. These books span a variety of genres. Classics are often those books that readers are aware of, and may even know the plot of, even if they’ve never read the books. Some examples of classics include Frankenstein , The Secret Garden , and Great Expectations .

An image showing the book covers for several books in the classic fiction book genre.

Contemporary fiction is one of those genres for books that don’t fit in any other bucket. The one overarching element here is that these books take place in present day. Contemporary fiction features ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. The story’s conflict often revolves around a problem in the protagonist’s everyday life.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the contemporary fiction book genre.

Dystopian fiction typically centers around a grim society in which everything is as bad as can possibly be. Most often, dystopian novels take place in an alternate future in which our world has been ravaged by such calamities as war, apocalypse, plague, or environmental disaster. At the heart of most dystopian literature is an oppressive government that the protagonist must fight against. Dystopian novels offer a frightening vision of the future, and are frequently written as a “warning” of what may come if we do not change our ways. Although traditionally categorized under science-fiction, Dystopian literature has become so prevalent that it now stands as a genre of its own.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the dystopian fiction book genre.

Fantasy novels are characterized by the inclusion of magic or supernatural elements. The characters in fantasy novels are often drawn in part or in whole from mythology or folklore. While some fantasy is set in our own world with a magical element, other fantasy novels feature entirely made up worlds and creatures. Fantasy novels are purely speculative, and are often not tied to reality or science.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the fantasy fiction book genre.

Fantasy comes in many forms and includes many different and varied subgenres.

An image showing the subgenres of fantasy fiction.

Magical Realism

Sometimes considered a genre unto itself, magical realism focuses on magical elements at play within our world. In magical realism, the magical and the mundane peacefully coexist. These books do not feature such magical creatures as vampires or sorcerers, but rather focus on supernatural happenings within our world. This underpinning of magic flows like a current through the book, and is easily accepted by the characters within it. Some examples of magical realism include Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Dark Fantasy

A subgenre of fantasy, dark fantasy often presents a gloomier world. The supernatural occurrences in dark fantasy often have a dark, brooding tone meant to infuse terror or dread, and there is an obvious lack of heroes. Frequently these stories incorporate elements of horror. As opposed to straight horror in which the villain might be a serial killer, in dark fantasy, the villain might be a werewolf, vampire, other monster. It is not uncommon in dark fantasy for the story to be told through the monster’s point of view. Some examples include Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

Fairy Tale fiction is often a reimagined version of classic Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Set in the modern world, these books rely heavily on the motifs and plots of folklore. Some examples of fairy tale fantasy include Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and Beauty by Robin McKinley.

Heroic Fantasy

A subgenre of fantasy, heroic fantasy often takes place in a world filled with magic, in which modern technology does not exist. Focusing heavily on the themes of good versus evil, these books typically feature a large cast of characters led by the “hero” who is on a quest to set something right. The protagonists in heroic fantasy often come from low upbringings or are viewed as underdogs who have little chance of success, but who must nevertheless prevail and complete their quest. Some examples of heroic fantasy include The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

High Fantasy

High fantasy, also called epic fantasy, focuses on stories set in an entirely fictional world. Magical elements are usually at the forefront of the plot, and the characters typically find themselves on a quest with global stakes. When most people think of fantasy, this is what they are considering. High fantasy includes book such as Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. High fantasy novels tend to be longer than most other subgenres of fantasy due to the rich world-building associated with the genre.

Pro Tip: High fantasy takes place in made-up worlds, while low fantasy takes place in our world. These genres do cross at times, when characters begin in our world and journey to another world, such as in The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Historical Fantasy

Historical fantasy features stories set in a historical period, with an added element of magic. Typically these stories are set it pre-20th century. Stories such as The Once and Future King by T.H. White qualify as historical fantasy.

Low Fantasy

Low fantasy, also known as intrusion fantasy, is categorized by magical elements that appear in—or intrude on—an otherwise normal world. Such stories as talking animals or inanimate objects coming to life would be considered low fantasy. One example includes The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. These books often cross genres with magical realism.

Mythic Fantasy

As its name implies, mythic fantasy relies heavily on mythology, often introducing characters from Greek or Roman mythology. These gods and goddesses may factor directly into the book, or the focus may be on their descendants. Some example of mythic fantasy include The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan and Circe by Madeline Miller.

Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy typically includes the involvement of magical elements or beings in a city setting. These stories are typically set in the real world and may focus on either the peaceful coexistence of humans and supernatural beings or a conflict between them. Some examples include The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz.

Graphic novels aren’t defined so much by their content, but by their appearance. Graphic novels are highly illustrated books, with the story being told through speech bubbles and a series of comic panels. These books have gained popularity in recent years for children ages 6-10, though many classics are also now being made into graphic novels. Some examples of graphic novels include Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the graphic novel book genre.

Historical fiction refers to books that take place in the past. These books typically center around imaginary characters experiencing real historical events. Historical fiction is often enriched by historically accurate details from the specific time period. The goal of historical fiction is to maintain authenticity around the time period, with a focus on accurately portraying customs, traditions, and events of the time. It is not uncommon in historical fiction for fictional characters to interact with real-life figures. One of the best examples of historical fiction is the wealth of World War II-era books that have been released in recent years.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the historical fiction book genre.

Historical fiction often covers a single time period, but there are a few subgenres of historical fiction.

Multi-period epics or sagas

A subgenre of historical fiction, multi-period epics tend to follow families or events over several generations. These books may be written as single volume or may stretch across several volumes. Some examples of multi-period epics include The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, Salt Houses by Hala Alyan, and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Historical romance

A subgenre of historical fiction, historical-romance is often a love story between two characters, set against the background of real-life historical events. While these books could also fall easily into the romance category, true historical romance tends to focus more heavily on history, using it as an essential element of the storytelling, rather than simply a setting for the book. One example of such a book is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Horror books do one thing: they cause discomfort and fear for a reader. The whole point of a horror book is to scare readers—to make you jump out of your skin at every page turn and feel trepidation at what’s coming next. Sometimes infused with paranormal elements, sometimes based on straight reality, a good horror book makes you feel like your skin is crawling and keeps you up at night wondering what’s waiting to jump out and get you.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the horror fiction book genre.

Like many genres, horror can be broken into several subgenres.

An image showing the subgenres of Horror fiction.

Body Horror

Body horror is a specific subgenre of horror that offers vivid depictions of graphic violations or mutilations of the body. Often the story centers on a graphic disfiguration or destruction of the human body. Examples of body horror include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Troop by Nick Cutter.

Gothic Horror

A subgenre of horror, gothic horror is often categorized by a battle between humanity and an unnatural force of evil (whether manmade or supernatural.) These books often take place in gloomy environments with bleak landscapes and can regularly center around mysteries, castles, spirits and hauntings, madness, and even some romance. Some examples of gothic horror include Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Lovecraftian Horror

Lovecraftian horror, popularized by American author H.P. Lovecraft, begins with the assumption that otherworldly beings once ruled our planet and that they will return to destroy all of humanity. One such example is The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle

Paranormal Horror

Paranormal horror introduces elements of the supernatural. Common themes in paranormal horror include hauntings, possessions, and curses. Some examples include Firestarter by Stephen King and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

Psychological Horror

Psychological horror contains no monsters. Instead, it plays on a reader’s mind and their innermost thoughts. Psychological horror is categorized by suspicion, self-doubt, paranoia, and distrust of self and others. Some examples of psychological horror include Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin and Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Slasher Horror

Slasher horror is categorized by the presence of madmen: slashers, cannibals, sociopaths. In these books, the villains are physically after the protagonists. The horror comes from the suspense of never knowing when they will pop up. Given the nature these stories, they can often cross over with psychological horror. Examples of slasher horror include Psycho by Robert Bloch and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

Quiet Horror

Quiet horror, also known as soft horror, relies on a reader’s imagination to make a story scary. Rather than graphic depictions of horror, quiet horror uses atmosphere and mood to set the tone, leaving most of the graphic details to the reader’s imagination. One example of quiet horror is The Sound of Midnight by Charles L. Grant.

LGBTQ+ features strong representation of LGBTQ+ characters as the protagonists of the book. Any book featuring such a representation can be considered LGBTQ+, regardless of what genre it otherwise falls into.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the LGBTQ+ fiction book genre.

Literary fiction is similar to contemporary fiction, in that it doesn’t typically fit into any specific genre. Rather, literary fiction is characterized by what is considered to be the highly artistic value of the writing. Literary fiction is meant to make a reader really stop and think, often offering a personal or social commentary on the book’s theme. Literary fiction also tends to be more on the serious side, and to touch on more serious topics.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the literary fiction book genre.

Mystery fiction, also known as detective fiction, always revolves around a mystery that must be solved. Mystery fiction always features several elements: a crime, an investigator, witnesses, clues, suspects, and of course a perpetrator. These mysteries may vary from a missing item to a murder, depending on the genre.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the mystery fiction book genre.

Mystery fiction often crosses over with thriller and suspense, but mystery comes in a variety of genres.

An image showing the subgenres of mystery fiction.

Detective Fiction

Detective fiction is characterized by an investigator—whether professional or amateur—who is trying to solve a mystery. The key distinction between detective fiction and police procedurals is a lack of direct ties to the police. Often detective fiction showcases an investigator who runs a detective agency of sorts, and who may work with the police, but not for them. Some examples of detective fiction include Sherlock Holmes , Nancy Drew , and the Hardy Boys .

Capers are light-hearted mysteries in which the protagonist is typically the thief. Infused with humor, these books typically focus more on how (and if!) the culprit will get away with the crime. One such example is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Cozy Mystery

Cozy mysteries tend to be lighthearted. Although murder may occur, it is never presented in grim detail. In cozy mysteries, crimes are typically solved by amateur detectives rather than professionals. Crimes typically occur in small towns where everyone knows everyone else. One example of a cozy mystery is Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke.

Hardboiled Mystery

A subgenre of mystery, hardboiled mystery is exactly as it sounds: hardcore. These books often feature overworked professional detectives who are fighting their own demons. Hardboiled mysteries may include violence, sex, or graphic details. One example of a hardboiled mystery is The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Historical Mystery

Mystery often crosses over with other genres, and this is one such case. Historical mystery is simply a mystery novel set in a historic time period, such as The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb.

Howdunit mysteries answer the question of who committed the crime immediately. Instead, these books focus on solving the question of how a crime was committed. One example of a Howdunit is A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin.

Like film noir, noir mystery focuses on the classic detective trope: a tragically flawed detective in a trench coat attempting to solve a crime. One example includes Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson.

Police Procedural

Police procedurals focus on police investigations. These books tend to be highly researched to mimic how actual police investigations function. They often include autopsy reports and forensic science. Such books may switch points of view between the detectives and the perpetrator of the crime. Two examples of police procedurals include The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly and Killer Instinct by James Patterson.

Supernatural Mystery

Supernatural mystery crosses over with horror and fantasy. These books, which may cross over with other mystery genres such as detective mystery or police procedurals, typically feature a mystery that involves some form of supernatural occurrence. Often the investigator finds a non-supernatural, logical solution to the mystery, but this is not always true. In some cases, the mystery is solved, but a supernatural element remains unexplained. One example of a supernatural mystery is In the Woods by Tana French.

Romance novels are typically about a romantic relationship. Typically the would-be lovers are faced by a series of obstacles that keep them apart for most of the book. In romance novels, all typically ends well with the two partners getting together. Romance novels are characterized by sensual tension and desire, and in many cases include intensely described sex scenes.

Pro Tip: romance novels for kids usually revolve around school crushes. Middle grade romance is clean, going no farther than kissing. YA and New Adult will both include sex scenes but not in as much detail as adult romance.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the romance fiction book genre.

Romance fiction can be broken into multiple subgenres.

An image showing the various subgenres of romance fiction.

Contemporary romance

Contemporary romance takes place in modern day and features women trying to find love amid modern technology and social situations. These books tend to be more relatable than other books in the romance genre as readers may have experienced similar situations. Examples of contemporary romance include The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory and Ghosted by Rosie Walsh.

Erotic Romance

Erotic romance focuses on the development of a relation through sexual interactions. In erotic novels, the buildup to the sexual interaction is as important to the plot as is the actual sex scenes. Both serve to further the relationship between two characters and the intimate nature of the relationship they are building. While some might view sex scenes in such books as graphic, they are in fact integral to relationship building and to cut them from the story would be to severely damage plot development. One example of erotic romance is Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James.

Gothic Romance

Dark, gloomy, and atmospheric, gothic romance typically showcases women battling through terrifying ordeals to be with the ones they love. Gothic romance is filled with secrets and mystery, and often takes place in old crumbling manors or mansions. Jane Eyre is a perfect example of gothic romance.

Historical Romance

A subgenre of both historical fiction and romance, historical romance mixes the best of both worlds to create a sweeping romance set in a particular historic era. Often these books take place during real-life historical events and feature fictionalized versions of real historical figures. One example of historical romance is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Paranormal Romance

A subgenre of romance, paranormal romance follows the rules of typical romance with one twist: at least one of the romantic partners is typically some sort of supernatural creature. This may include angels, vampires, werewolves, or demons, to name just a few. While paranormal fantasy focuses heavily on the action of the story, paranormal romance focuses heavily on the development of the romantic relationship between two people, and the ups and downs they face in finally coming together. One example of paranormal romance is Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

Regency Romance

A very specific subgenre of romance, regency romance is typically set between 1795 and 1837, known as the Regency Era in England. Regency romance offers a heavy focus on society and societal norms for women at the time. Such events as dinner parties, balls, and marriages are often at the forefront of regency romance. One example of a regency romance is Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt.

Romantic Suspense

Romantic suspense goes beyond typical romance, blending with suspense and thriller books. These books tend to be more fast-paced and suspenseful, featuring such elements as stalkers, kidnapping, and even murder. One example of romantic suspense is Something About You by Julie James.

Time Travel

Time travel romance features a protagonist who must travel through time in order to find her true love. Often these books flip between present day and the past, with some confusion occurring between the protagonists two timelines and relationships during each one. A common conflict in such books is the decision about whether to stay in the past or to return to a protagonist’s own time. One example of time travel romance is The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Satire is the use of humor, exaggeration, irony, or ridicule to criticize, humble, or discredit the target of a book. Typically satire offers a political commentary of sorts. One example of satire is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the satire fiction book genre.

Science fiction often feels similar to fantasy in that it is characterized by new worlds and made-up species of characters. Where science fiction differs from fantasy is its heavy reliance on science at technology, both of which lay at the root of all science fiction stories. The worlds portrayed in science fiction stories are not made up of fantastical creatures, but rather of those created or discovered through science.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the science fiction book genre.

Like fantasy, science fiction can be broken into a variety of specific genres.

An image showing the many subgenres of science fiction.

Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Apocalyptic science fiction typically takes place following a major calamity such as apocalypse, pandemic, or environmental disaster. Often such books include the decline or destruction of the human race and the attempts of the remaining humans to survive. Examples of apocalyptic science fiction include The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Passage by Justin Cronin.


Colonization science fiction typically focuses on a world in which the earth has been destroyed and humans must colonize a new planet or form a new settlement. Some examples of colonization science fiction include The Last Colony by John Scalzi and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. These books often cross over with the subgenre of dying earth.

Hard Science Fiction

Hard science fiction offers a strong focus on technology. Scientific concepts are often explained in great detail, often to the detriment of plot and character development. Examples of hard science fiction include Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward and Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Military Science Fiction

Military science fiction tends to focus on armed conflict between two groups. This may be an interstellar or interplanetary conflict, or it may be more localized to a single planet. Themes such as bravery, sacrifice, and duty factor heavily into military science fiction, and the protagonists are typically members of a local military. Some examples of military science fiction include Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlan and the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.

Mind Transfer

Mind transfer is a subgenre of science fiction in which a human’s consciousness is uploaded or downloaded into either a computer or another human brain. This may occur through computer, alien intervention, physical brain transplant, or the use of a psychic power. Some examples of mind transfer science fiction include Neuromancer by William Gibson and Accelerando by Charles Strauss.

Parallel/Alternate Worlds

Parallel/alternate worlds science fiction typically focuses on the idea that there are multiple versions of the world with identical people living very different lives. These books are the epitome of the butterfly effect theory, in which a single change sets off a new world. Often characters in these books reach alternate worlds by traveling through a wormhole. One example of alternate world fiction is The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov.

Soft Science Fiction

Soft science fiction focuses less on the “how” and the actual science behind how a world came to be ad more on the actual characters. These stories tend to deal more with the “soft” or social sciences, focusing heavily on humans and not technology. One example of soft science fiction is Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Space Opera

Space operas often feature swashbuckling action set against the backdrop of outer space. Space operas tend to be long-running series with a continuing story arc. Some examples of space operas include the Dune series by Frank L. Herbert and Enders Game by Orson Scott Card.

Steampunk blends the technology of the future with the design and aesthetic of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Steampunk typically features steam-powered technology rather than modern-day technology. One example of steampunk fiction is Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

Short stories can appear in any genre. What binds them together as a genre of their own is their length. Anywhere between 1,000 and 15,000 words, these stories are shorter than typical novels. Often several short stories along a common theme appear together in a book. Some examples of short story collections include Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower and Pastoralia by George Saunders.


Thriller, also known as suspense, often crosses paths with mystery and crime fiction. Thriller fiction, however, typically revolves around a protagonist trying to save themselves rather than trying to save someone else. Fast-paced and action-packed, thrillers often include deception and plenty of cliffhangers. These books are meant to evoke feelings of anxiety, tension, fear, and lots of curiosity!

 An image showing the book covers for several books in the thriller fiction book genre.

Thriller fiction can be divided into multiple genres.

An image showing the many subgenres of Thriller fiction


Action thrillers typically focus on a protagonist’s need to struggle through a life-changing journey. This may be a quest they set for themselves or one they find themselves unwillingly a part of. Action thrillers are fast, bold, and loud. Often categorized by multiple locations, violence, and high-speed chases, these books bring about a rush of adrenaline with every turn of the page. Some examples of action thriller include The Martian by Andy Wier and The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum.

A subgenre of thriller and suspense, conspiracy thrillers typically involve a protagonist facing off against a large, powerful organization. The protagonists in conspiracy thrillers are often journalists of amateur sleuths who inadvertently stumble upon a conspiracy, setting off a chain of events in which they end up fighting for their lives. Conspiracy thrillers are typically filled with rumors and lies that the protagonist must wade through on their way to uncovering the truth. Some examples of conspiracy thrillers include The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon and The Firm by John Grisham.

Disaster thrillers revolve around some sort of environmental disaster or Armageddon-type situation. In disaster thrillers, the protagonist typically finds himself racing against time either to stop a disaster or to escape from an oncoming disaster. The disasters may include natural ones such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or meteor strikes, or may be man-made disasters such as nuclear attacks. Some examples of disaster thrillers include The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton and The Virus by Stanley Johnson.

Espionage thrillers are often set during war time and feature spies or secret agents as the protagonists. Espionage thrillers are typically categorized by corruption at the highest levels of government or a need to infiltrate a foreign government or crime organization. Espionage thrillers come with high stakes—often the livelihood of an entire country! Some examples of espionage thrillers include Blowback by Brad Thor and One Rough Man by Brad Taylor.

Forensic thrillers rely heavily on forensic scientists to solve a crime. Often in forensic thrillers, catching the perpetrator rests on finding evidence such as blood splatter, DNA, fingerprints, or bone fragments. Forensic thrillers are typically a race against time to catch the bad guy before he strikes again. Some examples of forensic thrillers include Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen and Trace Evidence by Elizabeth Becka.

Historical Thriller

As with most historical books, historical thrillers are set in a specific time-period and often include characterizations of real-life events or people. Historical thrillers often include real historical documents, mysteries, or conspiracies. It is not uncommon for a historical thriller to feature a contemporary protagonist trying to solve an old mystery. Some examples of historical thrillers include The Terror by Dan Simmons and The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins.

Legal Thriller

Legal thrillers often center around courtroom drama or legal dilemmas. The protagonists in legal thrillers are most often lawyers who find themselves thrust into the middle of a dangerous case and racing against time to save their clients—or themselves. Some examples of legal thrillers include The Client by John Grisham and Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow.

Paranormal Thriller

Paranormal thrillers follow the same rules as a typical thriller with the addition of paranormal elements to the story. The paranormal elements may appear as conflicts for the protagonist to overcome or it may be the protagonist himself who displays paranormal tendencies. Some examples of paranormal thrillers include The Outsider by Stephen King and The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

Psychological Thriller

Psychological thrillers rarely find in physical peril. Rather, protagonists often end up in a situation where their own sanity is at risk. The protagonists of psychological thrillers are often mentally unstable to begin with, which tends to make them unreliable narrators. Some examples of psychological thrillers include Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Religious Thriller

Religious thrillers typically revolve around a religious artifact or a secret held by a religious organization. In some thrillers the artifact has been stolen and must be recovered, while in others the artifact is surrounded by a mystery that must be unraveled. The protagonists of religious thrillers tend to be highly educated with a deep understanding of religion. The best example of a religious thriller is The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Utopian Fiction is a style of fiction that takes place in an idealized society, where everything is as good as it can possibly be. Utopian fiction typically includes the intrusion of conflict into an otherwise perfect world. It is not uncommon for the intrusion of this conflict to ultimately cause the seemingly perfect society to crumble as certain truths come to light.

 An image showing the book covers for several books in the utopian fiction book genre.

Western fiction typically takes place in the American Old West. It is set from the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century and covers such themes as bounty hunters, cattle driving, the gold rush, and prairie settlements.

 An image showing the book covers for several books in the western fiction book genre.

Women’s fiction refers to an overarching group of books targeted toward women. These books typically reflect on the shared female experience and the role of women in society. Women’s fiction often includes themes that revolve around the home, family, and community. These books focus on the growth of the female protagonist as they navigate their way through such real-life challenges as divorce, illness, job loss, or betrayal.

 An image showing the book covers for several books in the women's fiction book genre.

Young adult books cover a large swatch of genres. What holds this genre together is the age of the protagonists. Typically ranging from 13-17, young adult novels are coming of age novels in which the protagonists cope with the unique challenges of adolescence.

 An image showing the book covers for several books in the young adult fiction book genre.

Unlike fiction, which is made up by the authors nonfiction is fact-based. Whether an accounting of an author’s life, a list of recipes, or a deep dive into business, nonfiction must be true, and authors are held accountable for the veracity of the words they put on paper. Still, nonfiction is varied, with many different genres.

Art and photography books tend to fall into the category of “coffee table” books. Meant to be admired more than read, they may discuss an artist’s work in detail or simply showcase their work.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the art and photography nonfiction book genre.

Like autobiography, biographies chronicle the life of a person of interest. Biographies are not written by the person whose life they detail, however. Often biographies are written long after a person of interest has died, and look back at the entirety of their life.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the biography nonfiction book genre.

Cookbooks are more than just a collection of recipes. They are often an introduction to a chef and a particular style of food that they either find to be important or that has shaped them. These days, cookbooks frequently cater to either a particular style of food or to a diet plan.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the cookbook nonfiction book genre.

Historical nonfiction focuses firmly on the facts of a historical event. These books are incredibly well-researched as every fact in them must be accurate. The goal of this book is to educate readers on any given topic. While history textbooks would technically fall into this category, most historical nonfiction is a bit more exciting!

An image showing the book covers for several books in the historicalnonfiction book genre.

How-to books and DIY, otherwise known as Do-It-Yourself, offer readers a way to develop a hobby, skill, or craft. Often the nature of these books is clear from the title, which clearly indicates what it the book will teach the reader how to do.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the How-to/DIY nonfiction book genre.

More often than not, humor is written in the form of a memoir or a satirical essay. As opposed to typical memoirs that focus on serious topics, humor focuses on the light-hearted nature of people’s lives. The goal of humor is simple: to make people laugh!

An image showing the book covers for several books in the humor nonfiction book genre.

Memoirs and autobiographies each provide an account of an authors’ life, as written by the author. The difference is that memoirs tend to focus on a certain defining moment in an author’s life while an autobiography focuses on an author’s accomplishments.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the memoir and autobiography nonfiction book genre.

Parenting encompasses a wide range of subjects, from how to discipline a child to how to homeschool a child to how to prepare for children. Any book that offers advice on how to raise or maintain a family typically fits into this genre.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the parenting nonfiction book genre.

Philosophy nonfiction includes an exploration of such topics as ethics, the purpose of life, and the understanding of the human condition. These books used to belong to such classical philosophers as Aristotle and Plato, but these days they are becoming more common and more accessible.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the philosophy nonfiction book genre.

Religion and Spirituality is a broad genre, and can encompass anything related to either religion or spirituality. Religion and spirituality books range from a history of the church or a spiritual memoir and everything in between.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the religion nonfiction book genre.

Self-help is one of the most popular nonfiction genres. These books exist to help people help themselves. Self-help can cover a variety of topics, from managing your finances to learning how to stay organized. At their core, self-help books are mean to uplift a reader and give them a definitive path forward toward solving their problems.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the self-help nonfiction book genre.

Travel books come in many shades. They may be actual guidebooks, or may appear in the form of travel memoirs with an author sharing their own journey and the path they followed. Travel books often feature suggestions on what sights to see, where to eat, and where to stay.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the travel nonfiction book genre.

True crime is a nonfiction genre in which the author examines an actual crime from start to finish, detailing not just the crime, but the policework that went into solving the crime and the ways in which real people were affected by crimes. True crimes are most often stories about high profile murders.

An image showing the book covers for several books in the true crime nonfiction book genre.

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20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books

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Kendra Winchester

Kendra Winchester is a Contributing Editor for Book Riot where she writes about audiobooks and disability literature. She is also the Founder of Read Appalachia , which celebrates Appalachian literature and writing. Previously, Kendra co-founded and served as Executive Director for Reading Women , a podcast that gained an international following over its six-season run. In her off hours, you can find her writing on her Substack, Winchester Ave , and posting photos of her Corgis on Instagram and Twitter @kdwinchester.

View All posts by Kendra Winchester

While we know that great writing happens in all genres, sometimes folks forget that, especially literary institutions who have a lot of ideas about what makes great Literature. But as more and more writers push the boundaries of genre with their books, more books with genre elements are winning awards. Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward, and David Mitchell are just a few authors producing literary works with deep roots in genre fiction.

Short story collections with fantastical elements have also been expanding readers’ minds on what literary fiction can look like. Carmen Maria Machado, Ramona Ausubel, and Anjali Sachdeva use a blend of genres to create their incredible stories.

Great stories are great stories, however they are told. Literary fiction that contains zombies, killer robots, or ghosts hunters can be just as good as a classically styled novel. Part of what makes literature great is that authors push themselves to write new and interesting stories that make readers think about life in different ways. Whatever genre, great writing is great writing.

Here are some books that push the envelope and ask literary fiction readers to think about how stories are told and what literary fiction can do. Every one of these books expand on the idea of literary fiction, breaking the mold, and giving us some of the best stories we’ve ever seen.

LitFic Meets Science Fiction

A graphic of the cover of r Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

In Kazuo Ishiguro’s contemporary classic, Never Let Me Go , we follow three friends who attend the same school for children set in an alternative United Kingdom. As we learn more about the origins of the school, our perception of the story completely changes. I can’t say much without giving spoilers, but Never Let Me Go has a sci-fi-like twist.

A graphic of the cover of Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead loves to stretch readers’ assumptions about what a literary novel can be. In Zone One , Whitehead introduces us to a world overrun by zombies. Mark Spitz is tasked with continuing to sweep through and destroy zombies in Manhattan. The novel takes place over the course of three days of Mark’s life and will keep readers on the edge of their seats as we all wonder who will survive the zombie apocalypse.

A graphic of the cover of Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

When the colonizers land on the Australian continent, the Indigenous peoples flee to the outback to survive. The colonizers take Indigenous children, keeping them in schools to “educate” them on the “proper” way to be civilized. But then a young boy named Jacky escapes into the outback to find his family. A huge twist in the book gives this novel by Noongar writer Claire G. Coleman a more science fiction spin.

A graphic of the cover of The Book of Strange New Things by Michele Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

In this literary science fiction novel, Peter leaves his wife behind on Earth to go become a missionary to aliens on a distant planet. As he gets to know his new constituents, life on Earth is falling apart, and Peter must decide which is more important to him: his family or his ministry.

LitFic Meets Fantasy

A graphic of the cover of Awayland by Ramona Ausubel

Awayland by Ramona Ausubel

Ramona Ausubel’s fantastical stories always push the bounds of genre, containing elements of myth and fabulism. From a cyclops searching for love through online dating to a woman turning into mist, Awayland contains stories with touches of magic that will capture your attention from the first page.

A graphic of the cover of All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva

All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva

Every story in All the Names They Used for God blends elements of fairy tales and the fantastical. An albino woman living on the frontier in the 1800s finds a cave with mysterious voices calling to her from inside. Two girls abducted and forced to marry their captors discover they can control their husbands just by speaking a command. A man in a factory accident has his lungs turned into glass.

A graphic of the cover of The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson blends historical fiction, fantasy, and myth in this novel that centers around Fatima, a concubine in the court of the last Muslim emirate in Spain. Before the Catholic Spanish leaders can arrive, Fatima and her friend Hassan escape to find the fabled island of the Bird King.

A graphic of the cover of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

This winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize blends realism with the fantastical. Each short story is a unique gem unto its own. There are ghosts, alternate futures, and modern day fables all contained in this single collection. In What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky , Lesley Nneka Arimah is a masterful short story writer at her best.

A graphic of the cover of Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Winner of the National Book Award, Sing, Unburied, Sing is an incredible feat of Southern literature. Jesmyn Ward concludes her trilogy of Mississippi novels with this ghost story. Jojo, a 13-year-old boy, lives with his grandparents. But when his mom shows up to take him to pick up his father who is being released from prison, he goes on a road trip that will change his life forever.

A graphic of the cover of [AOC] Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

A girl with a tail and a hole that spits up letters from the past are just part of everyday life in K-Ming Chang’s Bestiary . Generations of Tawainese American women tell their stories full of wonder and the grotesque. Blending myth and magic, Chang creates a novel that is as harrowing as it is wonderful.

A graphic of the cover of The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith

Inspired by the myth of Daphne and Apollo, The Vegetarian follows a Korean woman who decides to quit eating meat. Her family is horrified and tries to convince her to change her mind. Kang combines elements of realist description alongside aspects of myth and the fantastical to create something wholly unique.

LitFic Meets Historical Fiction and the Fantastic

A graphic of the cover of She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

In this story set in the earlier years of the founding of Liberia, three young people with mysterious magical gifts find their fates intertwined. Together they must find a home for themselves in this new country. Moore blends elements of historical fiction and the fantastical to create a brilliant story that highlights the tumultuous founding of Liberia and the different groups of people that came to call it home.

A graphic of the cover of The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

In Namwali Serpell’s sprawling novel, each section is written in a different genre. The novel begins in 1904 at the edge of Zambezi river. As the novel moves forward in time and we follow three Zambian families, the genres begin to blend with each generation, creating an incredible story you never want to end.

A graphic of the cover of Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

A finalist for the Man Booker Prize, Washington Black blends fabulism, historical fiction, and travel narratives into this highly praised novel. The story follows “Wash” through his life as he finds himself going from an enslaved kid to a scientist’s assistant to a world adventurer. Every twist and turn of Wash’s life takes him somewhere new as he tries to find a place for himself as a Black man in a colonialist world.

A graphic of the cover of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

In 1920s Alaska, a childless couple struggles to make a home for themselves on the frontier. But one day they build a child out of snow, and the next morning, they discover a young girl where the snow child should be. With The Snow Child , Ivey twists and pulls the traditional frontier story into something a little more magical.

A graphic of the cover of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land follows timelines in the past, present, and future, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy to create the story. In the 15th century, a young girl discovers a manuscript sought after by scribes. A girl in the far future is the last hope Earth has for its population to survive. And in the present, an older man named Zeno tries to save school children from a shooter in the library.

A graphic of the cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke blends historical fiction and the fantastical in her novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell . Set in 1806, the narrative follows two rival academic magicians whose battle for supremacy deeply impacts the politics of the time as Britain is eyeballs deep in the Napoleonic Wars.

LitFic Meets Mystery/Thriller

A graphic of the cover of Shelter by Jung Yun

Shelter by Jung Yun

It’s hard to believe that Shelter , with all of its incredible craft and attention to detail, is Jung Yun’s first novel. It’s stunning. The novel begins when Kyung Cho is having money troubles but refuses to contact his estranged parents for help. However, when his mother shows up naked and hurt in his backyard, everything changes. This literary thriller captures readers’ attention from the very first page and doesn’t let go until the last.

LitFic Meets Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, and Horror

A graphic of the cover of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Like in many of his other novels, Mitchell combines elements of fantasy, horror, and science fiction to create a multi-part novel featuring characters connected through time and space. As we follow these characters through the decades, we begin to see the bigger picture and the forces at work that many of our view-point characters have only begun to suspect.

A graphic of the cover of Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

In this collection of short stories, Carmen Maria Machado gives us a range of genre-twisting stories that include elements of fairy tales, fantasy, comedy, horror, and psychological realism. A woman shares her experience about surviving an apocalyptic plague by telling us about her sexual encounters. Another refuses to let her husband remove a mysterious green ribbon tied around her neck. Her Body and Other Parties is a masterclass in genre-bending storytelling.

Whatever book you choose from this list, you’re sure to find a story that’s incredibly thought-provoking and all-engrossing. For even more top twenty lists, check out 20 of the Best Book Series of All Time and 20 of the Best Memoirs of the Last Decade .

books genre fiction

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The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction – And Why They Matter

We have put together a list of the 17 most popular genres in fiction to help you with your writing.

What Is Genre?

Genre is a style or category of art, music, or literature. As an author, genre controls what you write and how you write it. It describes the style and focus of the novel you write. Genres give you blueprints for different types of stories.

There are general rules to follow, for example, manuscript length , character types , settings , themes , viewpoint choices, and plots . Certain settings suit specific genres. These will vary in type, details, intensity, and length of description .

The tone employed by the author, and the mood created for the reader, must also suit the genre.

There are often sub-genres within genres, for example, a fantasy story with sinister, frightening elements would belong to the dark fantasy sub-genre.

Why Does Genre Matter?

Genres are great because they fulfil reader expectations . We buy certain books because we have enjoyed similar stories in the past. Reading these novels gives us a sense of belonging , of sitting down with an old friend and knowing we’re on familiar ground . There is also a camaraderie between readers who follow the same genres.

Writers can use this to their advantage because their boundaries are models on which to base stories. Genres reflect trends in society and they evolve when writers push the boundaries. Readers ultimately decide if the experiment has worked by buying these books.

The most important part of genre fiction, though, is that it fulfils our human need for good, old-fashioned storytelling . We sometimes need stories we can rely on to blunt the harsh realities of life.

The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction

 The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction

  • Romance .   These stories are about a romantic relationship between two people. They are characterised by sensual tension, desire, and idealism. The author keeps the two apart for most of the novel, but they do eventually end up together.  There are many sub-genres, including paranormal, historical, contemporary, category, fantasy, and Gothic. There are also many tropes in the genre: 101 Romance Tropes For Writers
  • Action-Adventure . Any story that puts the protagonist in physical danger, characterised by thrilling near misses, and courageous and daring feats, belongs to this genre. It is fast paced, the tension mounting as the clock ticks. There is always a climax that offers the reader some relief.
  • Science Fiction . This genre incorporates any story set in the future, the past, or other dimensions. The story features scientific ideas and advanced technological concepts. Writers must be prepared to spend time building new worlds and using genre-specific words . The setting should define the plot. There are many science fiction sub-genres . There are also many tropes in the genre: 101 Sci-Fi Tropes For Writers
  • Fantasy .   These stories deal with kingdoms as opposed to sci-fi, which deals with universes. Writers must spend plenty of time on world building. Myths, otherworldly magic-based  concepts, and ideas characterise these books. They frequently take cues from historical settings like The Dark Ages. There are also plenty of sub-genres here. There is also a specific terminology and many tropes in the genre: 101 Fantasy Tropes For Writers
  • Speculative Fiction . These stories are created in worlds unlike our real world in certain important ways. This genre usually overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.
  • Suspense/Thriller . A character in jeopardy dominates these stories. This genre involves pursuit and escape. It is filled with cliffhangers and there are one or more ‘dark’ characters that the protagonist must escape from, fight against, or best in the story. The threats to the protagonist can be physical or psychological, or both. The setting is integral to the plot. This is often described as a gripping read . A Techno Thriller is a sub-genre.
  • Young Adult . Young Adult (YA) books are written, published, and marketed to adolescents and young adults. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of 12 and 18, but adults also read these books. These are generally coming-of-age stories, and often cross into the fantasy and science fiction genres. YA novels feature diverse protagonists facing changes and challenges. This genre has become more popular with the success of novels like The Hunger Games , The Fault in Our Stars , and Twilight .
  • New Adult . New Adult (NA) books feature college, rather than school-aged, characters and plotlines. It is the next age-category up from YA. It explores the challenges and uncertainties of leaving home and living independently for the first time. Many NA books focus on sex, blurring the boundary between romance and erotica.  
  • Horror /Paranormal/ Ghost .  These are high-pitched  scary stories involving pursuit and escape. The protagonist must overcome supernatural or demonic beings.  Occult is a sub-genre that always uses satanic-type antagonists. There are also many tropes in the genre: 101 Horror Tropes For Writers
  • Mystery/Crime .  These are also known as ‘whodunits’. The central issue is a question that must be answered, an identity revealed, a crime solved. This novel is characterised by clues leading to rising tension as the answer to the mystery is approached.   There are many sub-genres in this category.
  • Police Procedurals are mysteries that involve a police officer or detective solving the crime. The emphasis rests heavily on technological or forensic aspects of police work, sorting and collecting evidence, as well as the legal aspects of criminology.
  • Historical. These fictional stories take place against factual historical backdrops. Important historical figures are portrayed as fictional characters. Historical Romance   is a sub-genre that involves a conflicted love relationship in a factual  historical setting .  
  • Westerns . These books are specifically set in the old American West. Plotlines include survival, romance, and adventures with characters of the time, for example, cowboys, frontiersmen, Indians, mountain men, and miners.  
  • Family Saga . This genre is about on-going stories of two or more generations of a family. Plots revolve around things like businesses, acquisition, properties, adventures, and family curses. By their nature, these are primarily historical, often bringing the resolution in contemporary settings. There is usually a timeline involved in these books.
  • Women’s Fiction.  These plot lines are characterised by female characters who face challenges, difficulties, and crises that have a direct relationship to gender. This is inclusive of woman’s conflict with man, though not limited to that. It can include conflict with things such as the economy, family, society, art, politics, and religion.

books genre fiction

  • Literary Fiction .  This genre focuses on the human condition and it is more concerned with the inner lives of characters and themes than plot. Literary fiction  is difficult to sell and continues to decline in popularity.

Writing For Children

Writing for children is not really a genre, but a way of writing.

Please read these posts:

  • Writing For Children – 12 Practical Tips To Get You Started
  • 10 Powerful Recurring Themes In Children’s Stories
  • Everything You Need To Know About Creating Characters For Children’s Book

Changes In Genres

With the advent of self-publishing and ebooks, these genre guidelines have become less strict. This is because a publisher does not have to produce thousands of physical copies of the book. However, if you want to publish traditionally, you should still consider genre requirements.

How To Become Generic

Isolate your target market, research it, and adapt your story if necessary. Look in bookshops – they are generic, sorting books into categories to make it easier for their busy readers to choose and buy whatever will guarantee them a good read. Read: How To Choose Your Genre .

TIP: If you want help with your elements of fiction writing, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook .

Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  • The 5 Essential Elements Of A Perfect Ending
  • 5 Really Good Reasons To Outline Your Novel
  • How To Resuscitate A Lifeless Scene
  • The 7 Critical Elements Of A Great Book
  • 12 Crucial Things To Remember About Setting
  • 9 Literary Terms You Need To Know

Top Tip : Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop .

  • Genre , Publishing , Writing Tips from Amanda Patterson

7 thoughts on “The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction – And Why They Matter”

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This is wonderful and so easy to read. I wish there were more sub-genres and I guess there are, but it would be weird to list them, like steampunk, vintage, and Western could be in every category except maybe sci-fi. LOL!

~Tam Francis~

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I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tam. Yes, I could have listed many sub-genres, but it would have been overwhelming. Thank you for the feedback.

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Amanda, thanks for the concise but telling descriptions. One question I have is about overlapping genres. Above, there are aspects of the Action Adventure genre that seem to overlap with the Thriller genre. It seems to me many stories have components of multiple genres and I assume you pick the one that fits best. Great article!

Thank you, Robert. You are correct. Genres do bleed into each other, but it’s impossible to categorise everything perfectly. When we teach our courses, we talk about crossing genres. In point 5, I talk about how genres overlap, and they all do to some extent. You might find this article helpful. It deals with children’s fiction – which is an age group – not a genre, and it shows how many genres and grey areas one can find in this age group. I hope this helps.

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Maybe this is just the difference between South Africa and North America, but here we use “speculative fiction” to encompass both Science Fiction and Fantasy and all their subgenres. So in the US and Canada we wouldn’t say that speculative overlaps SciFi or Fantasy. We’d say the set SciFi and the set Fantasy are both subsets of the set Speculative Fiction. For more info:

Kristen, I do not think it is accepted as a fact anywhere in the world. There are many critics and writers who try to use speculative fiction as a blanket term, but there are just as many who reject it. ‘Margaret Atwood is one of these writers, and her use of the term “speculative fiction” generates strong reactions from her own readers as well as from science fiction readers in general. Atwood stresses the idea of speculative fiction is different from science fiction, for she sees science fiction as “filled with Martians and space travel to other planets, and things like that.” Atwood seems to view science fiction as inferior to speculative fiction in that science fiction seeks only to entertain, whereas speculative fiction attempts to make the reader rethink his or her own world based on the experiences described the novel. ‘ I have included more links about how these genres are seen to differ below: – This says that speculative fiction is a sub-genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Gosh … nothing for Comedy? 🙁 That’s my main interest ~

Comments are closed.

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Assortment of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery, and Romance Book Covers

The Ultimate List of Book Genres: 36+ Genres Explained

Genres are crucial to your writing success. They inform word count, writing style, and content. From a marketing point of view , they help you create a profitable niche and build a specialized brand that is instantly recognizable.

In addition, readers are more likely to enjoy a book that is written in their favorite genre. Also, they won’t hesitate to leave a negative review if a book fails to meet their expectations. With well over 12 million Kindle books on Amazon in 2022, writers ignoring genres risk lower sales and unsatisfied readers.

This guide gives you an overview of the 36 most popular book fiction and nonfiction genres out there.

List of Fiction Genres

Science Fiction

Action & adventure, literary fiction, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, magic realism, graphic novel, short story, young adult.

List of Nonfiction Genres


Memoirs & autobiographies, food & drink, art & photography, self-help & motivational, crafts, hobbies & home, humor & entertainment, business & money, law & criminology, politics & social sciences, religion & spirituality, education & teaching, fiction genres.

Fiction writing has become very popular over the years. In fact, the first half of 2021 saw a 25% increase in fiction books sold in comparison to Q1 and Q2 of 2020. 

Fiction is a genre of literature where the author creates imaginary characters, worlds, and events. This means that the storyline is completely fictional, unlike nonfiction stories, which tell real-life experiences.

Literary Genre Quiz (Easy)

books genre fiction

Your answer:

Correct answer:


Your Answers

Fantasy fiction is a genre of literature that involves magic, mythical creatures, and fantastical settings. It is not uncommon for these stories to have supernatural elements and characters who live in imaginary worlds. 

Some common tropes include dragons, elves, fairies, wizards, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, demons, angels, and talking animals. Fantasy stories may also involve time travel, alternate universes, parallel dimensions, and other mystical concepts.

The genre was born out of medieval tales such as Beowulf and King Arthur legends and often revolve around the struggle between good and evil. 

Today, fantasy books like Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien are read by millions around the globe.

While fantasy has dozens of subgenres, there are two main types of fantasy fiction: epic fantasy and high fantasy.

  • Epic fantasy focuses on the adventures of ordinary people who fight monsters and save kingdoms. 
  • High fantasy features heroes who wield magical weapons and travel through fantastic lands.

Average word count: While fantasy works often span dozens of volumes and millions of words, their average word count ranges between 60,000 and 200,000+ depending on the genre.

Knight defending against fire-breathing dragon in fantasy battle

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that deals with scientific ideas and principles. Science fiction stories often use futuristic settings and technologies. In a sci-fi setting, scientific advancement has typically advanced beyond our current understanding.

Many science fiction stories deal with space exploration, colonization, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and extraterrestrial life. Other topics include time travel, robots, teleportation, and faster-than-light travel.

The term was originally coined in 1933 by Isaac Asimov , who defined science fiction as stories that take place in a future setting that includes elements of science and technology. In his book, he also mentioned three other categories of science fiction: fantasy, horror, and utopian/dystopian.

Science fiction is considered by some to be a subgenre of speculative fiction. Nowadays, however, it has become a genre of its own. From movies such as Star Wars to TV shows like The Expanse and Star Trek , sci-fi has taken over our lives. Some more examples of science fiction include 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, and Interstellar by Christopher Nolan.

Average word count: Science fiction works typically have between 60,000 and 90,000 words.

Futuristic laser-armed fighter evading spaceship in sci-fi scene

A dystopia is a society where basic human rights are denied and freedom is limited. In dystopian literature, the main character often faces oppression from the government, corporations, or other groups. Themes include totalitarianism, environmental destruction, poverty, war, and genocide.

There are several types of dystopian fiction, from sci-fi dystopia to dystopic satire. Some examples of dystopian works include Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. These books offer readers a glimpse into what life might be like under adverse conditions.

Average word count: Dystopian books have between 60,000 and 110,000 words on average.

Woman gazing at dystopian floating island cities from cliff edge

Action & adventure stories are often considered to be the most exciting genre of literature. They feature heroes who fight against evil forces or face dangerous situations. The setting usually takes place in exotic locations such as jungles, deserts, mountains, etc.

Action & adventure novels are typically known for their thrilling plots , action scenes, and gripping characters. They also tend to focus on themes such as friendship, loyalty, courage, honor, justice, love, and redemption. 

There are two main categories of action & adventure books: those that focus on the hero (the protagonist) and those that focus on the villain. In both cases, the story revolves around the conflict between good and evil.

Examples include The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.

Average word count: Adventure books are brimming with words, as the average word count hovers between 120,000 and 200,000 words.

Action-packed scene of Agent sprinting through laser barriers

Romance novels are often considered to be a genre of literature that focuses on love stories between two characters. In many cases, books are written from a female perspective and tend to focus on the emotional aspects of relationships. A typical plot discusses the choice the protagonist must make between a “bad boy” (or girl) and a “good” one.

The term ‘romance’ was coined in 1813 by Sir Walter Scott, who wrote his novel Ivanhoe under the pseudonym of William Harrison Ainsworth. Since then, the word has become synonymous with love stories.

There are three main types of romance novels: historical romances, contemporary romances, and paranormal romances. 

  • Historical romance novels typically take place during the Victorian era or earlier periods, such as the Elizabethan era. 
  • Contemporary romance novels feature modern settings and storylines. 
  • Paranormal romance novels are set in fantasy worlds where magic plays a major role.

Another common romance subgenre, popularized in movies, is romantic comedy, where romance includes comedic elements.

Famous romances include Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.

Average word count: Romance books tend to have between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

Romantic moment of couple kissing on Paris bridge, Eiffel Tower

Mystery fiction is often described as a literary subgenre that combines elements of crime and detective fiction. Some examples include Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and Dan Brown.

There are two main types of mystery fiction: whodunnit and whydunnit.

  • Whodunnits are mysteries where the reader wants to discover who committed the crime. The perpetrator’s identity remains unknown until the story ends. The protagonist is often presented with clues throughout the narrative that allow them to solve the mystery.
  • Whydunnits are mysteries where we may know the killer from the start and readers want to figure out why someone committed the crime. This has been the traditional style of mystery writing in China, where books often start with a description of the crime and who committed it. The rest of the book describes the efforts of the hero to catch them and reads like a game of chess between the two main characters—protagonist and antagonist.

There are several additional subgenres within mystery fiction, such as thriller, suspense, psychological, historical, etc. 

Mystery fiction has existed since ancient times. In Greek mythology, Oedipus was trying to solve the riddle of his parentage. In more contemporary times, Sherlock Holmes solved crimes using logic and deduction.

Average word count: Most mystery books contain 60,000 to 90,000 words. 

Detective with Gun and Flashlight in Dark, Mysterious House

Horror fiction is defined as fictional narratives that contain themes of terror, fear, and dread. It often involves supernatural elements or horrific events such as murder, torture, cannibalism, etc. Stories typically revolve around characters who face threats that they cannot overcome alone.

Horror fiction has existed for centuries. The genre was born from the Gothic novel movement in 18th-century England. In modern times, it was revived during the 19th century, especially after Edgar Allan Poe wrote his famous short story, The Tell-Tale Heart .

In modern times, horror fiction has become a major part of our culture. From books to movies, television shows to video games, horror fiction is everywhere and it is widely read and appreciated around the globe.

Examples include The Omen by David Seltzer, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and Stephen King’s and H.P. Lovecraft’s works.

Average word count: Horror books typically have from 60,000 to 90,000 words. 

Chainsaw-Wielding Zombie in Abandoned Horror House Setting

Thriller fiction is a genre of crime fiction that focuses on suspense and psychological thrillers. Thrillers often feature complex plots and characters who are psychologically damaged or mentally unstable. Themes include murder, kidnapping, revenge, espionage, terrorism, and other crimes.

Thriller novels have become extremely popular over the years. James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, John Grisham’s The Firm , and Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity are some famous examples.

Average word count: Thriller books contain 60,000 to 100,000 words on average.

Suspenseful Shadow Holding Knife in Thriller Scene

Paranormal fiction is a genre of literature that deals with supernatural themes such as ghosts, demons, vampires, and other creatures from folklore or mythology. The term was coined in the early 20th century and has since grown into its own subgenre within the horror and fantasy genres.

Paranormal fiction is a relatively new literary form. In recent years, authors have begun writing stories that feature characters who interact with supernatural beings. These stories often include elements of science fiction and fantasy.

There are several types of paranormal fiction. Some focus on the supernatural, while others explore our inner demons. Regardless of their subject matter, these books are usually classified under the umbrella of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery.

Some famous examples include Neil Geiman’s The Graveyard Book , Stephen King’s The Shining , and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire .

Average word count: There are 60,000 to 90,000 words in an average paranormal book. 

Red-Robed Conjurer Summoning Demons in Paranormal Ritual

Western fiction is a genre of writing that originated in Europe during the 18th century. The term was coined by French literary critic Edmond de Goncourt who defined it as “the literature of the West” and originally referred to stories that take place in the West (i.e., North America, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). Today, Western Fiction has become a major part of our culture and stories tend to focus on events that happened in the United States from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.

Western fiction is often considered to be a subgenre of historical fiction, although some authors prefer to call themselves “historical novelists” instead. Regardless of its name, the main characteristic of these types of books is their setting—think Shane by Jack Schaefer, The Brave Cowboy by Edward Abbey, and Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams.

Typical Western works encompass a wide range of genres such as poetry, drama, short story, novel, essays, etc. These books often deal with themes such as love, war, and history.

Average word count: The average length of Western fiction is 50,000 to 80,000 words.

Tense Cowboy Showdown by Saloon in Classic Western Scene

Literary fiction is a type of fiction that focuses on character development and narrative structure rather than plot.

The term was coined by critic Harold Bloom in his book The Western Canon (1994). He defined it as “A novel written in English from 1500 to 1800 whose author takes seriously the project of representing human life as it might be lived.”

Nowadays, literary fiction is distinguished from other types of fiction by its focus on character and story. 

Classical literary fiction examples include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

On average, literary fiction works are between 80,000 and 120,000 words long.

Woman in White Dress Bringing Life to Barren Land in Literary-Fiction

Historical fiction is a genre of literature where historical events or characters are fictionalized. This type of writing allows readers to experience history through a new lens.

The story takes place during real-time periods, but the author makes changes to the facts. For example, the main character might be someone who was never born in the time period they live in. Or the setting might be changed from modern times to another era.

Historical fiction has existed since ancient times, with some historians including in the genre Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey . There are also examples of historical fiction in medieval texts such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight .

Today, historical fiction is often considered a subgenre of fantasy and science fiction. Some authors even combine these genres together. 

Modern examples include The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Average word count: Historical fiction books contain on average 60,000 to 90,000 words. 

Spartan Warrior Battling Lion in Historical Fiction Setting

The term contemporary fiction was coined by critic Harold Bloom in his book The Western Canon (1994). It is defined as stories written after World War II. The genre was born out of the post-war era, where writers had to deal with the aftermath of war and the challenges of rebuilding society.

Contemporary fiction is often described as being realistic, gritty, and dark. This type of writing tends to focus on issues such as poverty, racism, war, and violence in a way that is particularly relevant to modern readers since it takes place in everyday, familiar settings.

It’s important to note that contemporary fiction isn’t always realistic. In fact, some authors deliberately write their books in a way that makes them seem unrealistic. This allows readers to experience something new and exciting without being overwhelmed by reality.

Some examples of contemporary fiction include Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

Average word count: There are between 60,000 and 90,000 words in a contemporary fiction book.

Solitary Figure with Yellow Umbrella in Grey City, Contemporary Fiction

Magic realism is a literary genre that combines elements of fantasy and reality. The term was coined by Argentine writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude .

Magic realism is a style of fiction where fantastic or supernatural events occur within realistic settings. This type of writing has become very popular over the last decade, especially in Latin America.

This form of literature often features fantastical characters who live in a real setting. For example, they might be able to fly, see into the future, or travel through time. Magical realism also uses surreal imagery and symbolism to convey its messages.

Notable examples include The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

City-dweller Steps into Magical Forest in Magic Realism Scene

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. This term was coined in 1969 to describe those who identify themselves as LGBTQ+. The acronym has since evolved into a broader term that encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity. In recent years, the term has also come to include other identities such as pansexual, polyamorous, asexual, demisexual, intersex, non-binary, and two-spirit.

LGBTQ+ fiction explores themes related to human sexuality. Some examples include stories about same-sex relationships, homosexuality, and bisexuality. There are several types of fiction, including romance novels, erotica, and science fiction.

Some examples include Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, The Fever King by Victoria Lee, and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.

Passionate LGBTQ Women Kissing in Front of Rainbow Flag

Graphic novels are books that combine text and illustrations. They are often considered to be a hybrid between comics and literature. Graphic novels are usually longer than other types of books and they tend to focus on storytelling rather than plot development.

They are also known as comic strips or comic books. The term graphic novel was coined in the 1970s. In the 1980s, graphic novels became very popular because of their ability to tell stories using pictures instead of words alone.

There are two main categories of graphic novels: sequential art (comics) and non-sequential art (graphic novels). Sequential art is a form of visual narrative where each page tells a story. Non-sequential art is a collection of images that don’t necessarily follow a linear storyline.

Maus by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are excellent examples of graphic novels.

Average page count: Graphic novels can vary widely in length, ranging from 50 to 500 pages.

Dynamic Ninja Fight Scenes in a Graphic Novel

Short stories are often thought of as children’s literature, but they are also very popular in adult fiction. They are usually written in prose and focus on character development rather than plot twists or action sequences.

Short stories are generally shorter than novels, and they tend to feature characters who are less complex than those found in longer narratives. Themes include love, friendship, family relationships, and other human emotions.

There are two types of short stories: the short story and the novella .

The short story focuses on a single event. It has fewer pages (usually between 100 and 300) and can be anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 words long. Famous short stories include The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving and the short stories of Philip K. Dick.

The novella is longer (between 400 and 800 pages), and its main theme is usually broader than that of the short story. Examples include Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Vintage Typewriter Crafting a Short Story

YALIT (YA Literature) is a term coined by the American Library Association to describe books written specifically for young adults. The term was coined in the early 1980s, although YA books had existed since the 19th century.

The genre covers a wide range of topics from romance to science fiction. It is aimed at readers between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. YA fiction is often described as being similar to literary fiction, but with a younger audience. This means that the stories tend to focus on themes such as love, friendship, family, and relationships, and are character-driven rather than plot-driven.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Lord of the Flies by William Goldin, and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger are some famous examples of Young Adult fiction.

Average word count: Young adult works are between 50,000-80,000 words long, depending on the subgenre.

Sword-Wielding Young Girl in Mysterious River

New adult fiction is a genre of young adult literature that focuses on characters who are 18 years old or older. The books often feature themes such as love, relationships, and career choices.

This type of fiction was originally written for adults, but now it’s being published for teens and young adults too. They are popular with all ages because they offer a fresh perspective on life and romance., as well as a sense of empowerment and independence.

Examples include The Mistake by Elle Kennedy, Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover, and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.

Sunset Cliffside Stroll for New Adult Couple

Children’s fiction is a genre of children’s literature that focuses on stories aimed at young readers. The term was coined in the early 20th century by American librarian Lilla Cabot Perry, who published her book What Is Children’s Fiction? in 1922.

There are two main types of children’s fiction: picture books and chapter books. 

Picture books tend to focus on storytelling through illustrations, whereas chapter books often feature longer narratives. 

Chapter books are usually written for older kids (ages 8–12) and contain more complex storylines. They also tend to include more mature themes such as death, divorce, and bullying. 

Classic examples of children’s books include Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss.

Average word count: Children’s books are much shorter than adult books, having an average word count that ranges between 300 and 1200 words.

Child Riding Baby Elephant with Wooden Sword in Jungle Adventure

Nonfiction Genres

Nonfiction writing is a type of literary genre where the author writes from personal experience or observation. Unlike fiction, the events described are factual rather than imagined. The writer uses facts and figures to tell stories and convey information. 

There are four basic types of nonfiction writing: self-help, hobbies, academic, and journalistic. Self-help books are for people who wish to improve themselves. Then, there are those aimed at people who want to enjoy their hobbies more. Academic writing focuses on research and analysis, whereas journalistic writing involves reporting events. Both forms require extensive knowledge of the subject matter.

Biographies are often written about famous people or historical figures. The difference with autobiographies is that the author and the biography’s subject are not the same person. Biographies tell us who their subject was, where they came from, and why they became successful. Biography writing is also known as biographical essay writing.

The main purpose of a biography is to provide information about the subject. This helps readers gain insight into their personality, character, achievements, and other important details.

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert are some of the most famous examples of biographies.

Average word count: Typically, biographies are between 80,000 to 100,000 words long.

Life Stages Collage: Child, Adult Man, and Old Man in Biography

Biographies are fascinating accounts of someone’s life. Autobiographies and memoirs are similar, except that they focus on the writer’s own life story.

An autobiography is defined as a book describing the author’s personal experiences. Memoirs are similar to autobiographies except that they focus on specific time periods and events in the author’s life.

There are two types of memoirs: nonfiction and fiction. Nonfiction memoirs are factual accounts of real events in the author‘s life. Fiction memoirs are fictionalized accounts of actual events in the author’s life.

Famous memoirs include The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

Average word count: Memoirs usually have 45,000 to 80,000 words.

Triumphant Boxer Raising Arm in Crowded Boxing Ring

Food and Drink books are a great way to get inspired or even learn something new. These books are usually written by experts who share their knowledge through recipes, tips, and other useful information. They can take the form of a recipe book or a travel log, with some merging the two into a novel format.

Many are written by TV personalities, while others are written by chefs. Some examples include Nadiya’s Everyday Baking by Nadiya Hussein, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain, and One: Simple One-Pan Wonders by Jamie Oliver. 

Average word count: It is difficult to estimate word counts in cookbooks, as most cookbooks focus on the number and categories of recipes—desserts, snacks, soups, etc.

Passionate Cook Tossing Vegetables in Wok Over Open Flame

Art and Photography Books are collections of photographs or paintings that tell a story. These books are usually published by famous photographers or artists who want to share their work with the public.

These books are often great sources of inspiration as they contain beautiful images and stories that will surely inspire you. They are often used as coffee table books and conversation starters.

Popular examples include On Photography by Susan Sontag or Wonderland by Annie Leibovitz.

Average word count: Art and photography books are visual testimonies, hence they have a lower word count, ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 words.

Abstract Painting on Easel in Stylish Modern Apartment

Well-known examples are The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss or Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Multitasking Master in Self-Help Scene

History books are often written by historians who study historical documents such as letters, diaries, newspapers, etc. They also interview experts and survivors to get their perspectives on the subject. The information gathered helps them write accurate accounts of important events.

They commonly include information about wars, politics, economics, culture, science, religion, etc. 

There are several types of history books, such as encyclopedias, chronicles, and textbooks. The main difference between these types is their focus. For example, a textbook focuses on teaching students about specific topics.

Some of the best history books also show how the past has influenced the present and what lessons we can learn and apply to our future. 

Famous examples include Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, 1491 by Charles C. Mann, and A History of American People by Paul Johnson.

Average word count: History books have on average 30,000 to 70,000 words. 

Adventurer Approaching Desert Pyramids in Historical Journey

Crafts, Hobbies & Home books cover a wide range of topics from cooking to gardening to home improvement. 

The term hobby was coined in 1833 by William Morris, who described his art activities as a hobby. In modern usage, the word has come to mean any leisure pursuit that does not involve earning a living wage. Popular hobbies include sports, writing, painting, woodworking, knitting, baking, photography, and other interests. 

As the name suggests, Crafts, Hobbies, and Home books teach you how to enjoy your hobbies more by honing your skills. They are great resources for learning new skills or improving existing ones. They also provide a relaxing break from everyday life. Whether you want to learn how to cook, play guitar, or paint, these activities can help you develop valuable skills.

Some famous examples include Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , Crochet Cute Critters by Sarah Zimmerman, and Woodworking Plans and Projects by Anthony Deck.

Average word count: Most crafts and hobbies books are heavy on images that are self-explanatory. You can have crafts books with as few as 3,000 or as many as 50,000 words.

Assorted Crafting Tools on Wooden Table for Hobbies

A humorous book is a story written in such a way that readers can easily identify with the characters and situations. Humorous stories often feature exaggerated events, unusual settings, and unexpected twists. They are a great way to relax after a long day at work or school. They also provide a good laugh every now and then. 

Humor books often focus on everyday life. The main character is someone who has problems dealing with their daily life. These stories are meant to entertain and amuse the reader.

Popular examples include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. 

Average word count: Humor books can be quite succinct, ranging from 10,000 words to 50,000 words.

Playful Clown Making Happy Grimace on Stage

Business and Money Books are very important for every entrepreneur who wants to start their own company or become successful in their current job. These books contain information about various topics such as finance, marketing, management, etc.

Business and Money Books are typically written by experts who have years of experience in their field. They provide valuable insights into the subject matter they cover. The authors share their knowledge through writing and teaching.

Popular examples include Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.

Confident Entrepreneur with Stacks of Money Coins in Business

Are you interested in learning more about criminal justice or law enforcement? If yes, then you should read some law and criminology textbooks. These books cover topics such as crime prevention, police procedures, and legal issues.

Law and criminology is a field of study that focuses on the relationship between law and society. Criminologists study crimes committed by individuals and groups, whereas lawyers focus on the laws that govern these behaviors. Law and criminology also involve studying the causes of crime and devising ways to prevent them from happening.

Both law and criminology deal with the same subject matter but differ in their approaches. The main difference lies in the way each discipline deals with the problem at hand. For example, criminologists look into the reasons behind why certain crimes occur, whereas lawyers examine the legality of those actions.

Criminal Law by Joel Samaha, The Crime Book by DK and Peter James, and Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton E. Samenow are some popular examples.

Stern Judge Swinging Gavel in Law and Criminology Setting

Political Science and Sociology are both academic disciplines that study human behavior and society. These fields also include the study of government, politics, and other aspects of life. As such, Politics & Social Sciences books cover topics such as economics, history, law, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, etc.

The main difference between Political Science and Sociology is that Social Sciences focus on individuals, whereas Politics focuses on groups.

The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Prisoners of Geography by Tim  Marshall, and Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger are some examples of Politics & Social Sciences books that changed the way we think.

Average word count: As most academic books, politics and social sciences works have on average 80,000-90,000 words.

President Giving Speech with Jets Flying in Background

Religion and spirituality books are written by authors who want to share their personal experiences and insights. These books cover topics and spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, prayer, and mindfulness.

Religion and spirituality books cover topics such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and other religions. 

Many people believe these books are only relevant to those who practice their faith. In reality, however, they offer insights into human nature and psychology that apply across cultures and religions. For example, they provide a way to explore our inner selves and connect with other people. In addition, they give us a chance to reflect on life and discover new ways to live.

Some popular examples include The Bible , Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Average word count: Most religion and spirituality works have between 50,000 and 70,000 words.

Meditating Man in Jungle with Temple for Spiritual Exploration

Teaching is a profession that requires patience, passion, and knowledge. Teaching books are essential tools for teachers who want to improve their skills and become better educators. They also offer practical solutions to problems faced by educators.

The First Days of School by Harry Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation by David Goodwin and Pete Hegseth, and Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith are some popular examples.

Scientist Writing Equation on Blackboard for Educational Insight

Travel books are great resources for anyone who wants to explore new places or get inspiration from other cultures. They also provide useful information about local customs and etiquette.

Travel books come in various formats such as guidebooks, coffee table books, and even children’s picture books. The latter category has become very popular over the last decade.

A good travel book often includes detailed maps, historical facts, cultural insights, and practical information about where to stay, eat, shop, and play.

While the genre has a long and distinguished presence—see, for example, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad —it is publishers such as Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide that have popularized the genre by publishing hundreds of travel books. 

Average word count: Travel books rely on images to make us dream, so word counts range from 20,000 to 50,000 words.

Map, Compass, and Globe on Table for Travel Enthusiasts

True Crime Books focus on real events and are often written by authors who have had personal experiences with crimes or criminals. Some of them even go into detail about the criminal’s background and life before they committed their crimes.

The stories are told from the perspective of the victim, perpetrator, or both. These books are often controversial because they contain graphic details of violent crimes.

There are several types of true crime books. For example, some are biographies of serial killers, while others are memoirs of victims. There are also true crime anthologies, such as true crime podcasts, and true crime blogs.

Famous examples include Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman, Columbine by Dave Cullen , and Party Monster by James St. James.

Average word count: On average, true crime works are 80,000-90,000 words long.

True Crime Scene with Chalk Outlines and Blood Stains

The first Greek laws were written by Solon in 594 BC. They were in the form of poetry to make them more memorable, thus ensuring compliance.

This highlights the power of poetry and poems . A poem is a short piece of writing that uses language to convey ideas or emotions. The word comes from the Greek poiesis ( ποίησις ) meaning creation. In English, a poem is defined as a composition consisting of lines (or stanzas) of verse.

Poetry books are collections of poems written by famous poets. They are usually published in book form and contain both prose and verse. Poems are often considered to be some of the greatest literary creations ever created.

There are various types of poetry books, such as anthologies, compilations, and collections. Anthologies are collections of individual poems that are grouped together according to the theme, style, or subject matter. Compilations are collections of poems that are selected because they share similar characteristics. Collections are simply groups of poems that are chosen because they represent a particular time period or place.

If you are interested in poetry, you may enjoy The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson , as well as the poems of John Keats and C.P. Cavafy.

Average page count: Poetry books are usually between 70 and 100 pages long.

Handwriting Poem with Pen and Ink in Artistic Scene

Why Genres Matter

For both authors and readers, genres matter, as they let us choose the works we enjoy more. At the same time, it can be fun to mix things up every now and then. 

Hopefully, the above list will help you with this by inspiring you to try your hand at something new. You can even create your own unique subgenre that consists of the best elements of your favorite genres. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

Literary Genre Quiz (Hard)

books genre fiction

Nicholas C. Rossis

Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies, children’s books, or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, and enjoys the antics of his dog, cat, and young daughter, all of whom claim his lap as home. His books have won numerous awards, including the prestigious IBBY Award.

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144 Genres and Subgenres for Fiction Writing

Tonya Thompson

From fantasy to western—and everything in between—we cover the major genres and subgenres available to readers today. We also included a few links to books within that subgenre if you find one that catches your interest in particular. Happy reading!

Science Fiction

Thriller and suspense.

Fantasy genre and subgenres

Alternate History

This subgenre of fantasy offers a fictional account set within a real historical period, often with actual historical events included although rewritten to include some element of magic or fantasy. There are often "what if" scenarios that occur at important points in history and present outcomes that are different than what's on the historical record. Literary Examples: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell , Wild Cards I , His Majesty's Dragon

Children's Story

This subgenre of fantasy often offers a child protagonist who faces a struggle or possesses some unique ability. There are often mythical/fantastical creatures who both help and hinder the young protagonist. In these stories, which are intended for an audience that is not yet classified as Young Adult (YA), the themes are often life lessons such as overcoming adversity, working with others, finding allies, learning from your elders, or facing one's fear. Literary Examples: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , A Wrinkle in Time , The Phantom Tollbooth

These stories are humorous and often set in fantasy worlds, and might include parodies of other more serious works. It is considered part of low fantasy (as opposed to high fantasy) but not all low fantasy is comedic in nature. Literary Examples: The Princess Bride , Small Gods , The Tough Guide to Fantasyland


This subgenre of fantasy is a fantasy story in a modern-day setting (or one that resembles contemporary times). It often contains magic but it is not obvious, or perhaps able to be explained logically. There is often an intersect between the "real world" and the fantastical one that includes magic or characters with paranormal abilities. Literary Examples: American Gods , Hounded , The Raven Boys

Dark Fantasy

This subgenre is the darker side of fantasy, with added elements of horror, mystery, and/or an overall feeling of dread or gloom. A common element is supernatural occurrences with a dark and brooding tone. It is often contemporary Fantasy, with the major difference being horror elements included. Literary Examples: The Sandman: Book of Dreams , Gardens of the Moon , The Blade Itself

This subgenre of fantasy is for stories told like fairy tales for adults or that are modern retellings of classic fairy tales. There is heavy use of motifs from fairy tale stories, particularly tropes from Grimm's fairy tales. Literary Examples: Uprooted , Cinder , Ella Enchanted

Fantasy of Manners

This subgenre contains stories that rely heavily on the Comedy of Manners, which focuses on social commentary. Often taking place in an urban setting, this type of story will contain very little magic or fantastical creatures. Rather, it will focus on morality and social structures, particularly for women, sacrificing an elaborate plot in some cases to do so. Literary Examples: Shades of Milk and Honey , The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent , An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

This subgenre of fantasy contains heroic adventures in imaginary places. You will often find intricate plots and lineages in this subgenre, along with a protagonist who is often reluctant to be a champion and from humble beginnings. Literary Examples: The Legend of Deathwalker , The Crimson Queen , The Wolf of the North

High Fantasy

This subgenre contains fantasy set in a fictional world, with a focus on epic characters or settings. The distinction between high fantasy and low fantasy involves the world in which it takes place (the "real" world with magical elements for low fantasy). Literary Examples: The Fellowship of the Ring , A Game of Thrones , Crown of Midnight

Fantasy set in a historical period, generally before the 20th century, with an added element of magic. Fantasy stories from legends focusing on Arthurian, Celtic, or Dark Ages historical timelines generally fall within this subgenre. Literary Examples: On Stranger Tides , Grave Mercy , The Golem and the Jinni

Low Fantasy

A subgenre of fantasy depicting a realistic world, where magic is often present but not necessarily so. This is in contrast to High Fantasy, which occurs in a fictional world with magical elements present. The word "low" is in reference to the prominence of traditional fantasy elements within the work, rather than being a remark on the work's quality. Literary Examples: The Indian in the Cupboard , Lies Ripped Open , Tiger's Dream

Magical Realism

This subgenre presents a world in which the mundane and magical exist together without conflict. It refers to magic or the supernatural that is presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting. Literary Examples: One Hundred Years of Solitude , The House of the Spirits , The Night Circus

This subgenre of fantasy draws heavily from myth to create a unique blend of fantasy and folklore. It often includes gods or goddesses as characters or could be a retelling of older myths set in a fantasy world or the real world. Mythic fantasy and urban fantasy often overlap, but Mythic fantasy includes many contemporary works in non-urban settings. Literary Examples: The Lightning Thief , The Mists of Avalon , The Sacred Band

This subgenre includes characters who have superhuman abilities. Characteristics tropes are secret identities and crime fighting. The protagonist often displays superhuman strength or special abilities, creating a juxtaposition between "normal" humans and those with "superhuman" traits. Literary Examples: Steelheart , Renegades , Vengeful

Sword and Sorcery

This subgenre contains medieval-type adventures, with an element of romance that is often part of the story. You're also likely to find magical characters or supernatural factors involved in the plot. Common tropes are sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent adventures, along with elements of magic and the supernatural. Distinct from high fantasy, Sword and Sorcery tales focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters. Literary Examples: The Hour of the Dragon , Reign of Madness , The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter

This subgenre of fantasy involves magical elements that take place in an urban setting. Books in the subgenre of Urban Fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. Settings are not necessarily futuristic—they could also be historical settings, actual or imagined. Literary Examples: Moon Called , City of Bones , Vampire Academy

Young Adult

In this subgenre of fantasy, a teenager is often the protagonist. There is usually magic involved, as well as companions to help the protagonist defeat a magical foe. Common tropes are dramatic character growth, magic elements, and unexpected interactions between magical elements and the real world that influence the protagonist to become an adult. Literary Examples: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone , Six of Crows , The Wicked King

Horror genre and subgenres

Body Horror

This subgenre of horror focuses on graphic, disturbing violations to the human body, including disfigurement and mutation. There are often themes of biological horror, organic horror or visceral horror in which there is unnatural graphic transformation, degeneration or destruction of the physical body. Literary Examples: Annihilation , The Girl With All the Gifts , The Troop

A subgenre that is a spoof or satire based on the typical conventions of horror. In such, it mixes horror/gore with dark humor. Comedy Horror is typically categorized into three types: black comedy, parody, and spoof. Literary Examples: John Dies at the End , Bloodsucking Fiends , Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Creepy Kids

A subgenre where the children are often under the spell of evil or are born inherently evil, and turn against the adults in the story. They then become the antagonist of the story and often must be stopped by other children or adults in order for lives to be saved. Literary Examples: The Other , The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea , Such Small Hands

Extreme Horror

A subgenre showing extreme and bloody violence, while focusing on gore and death. Also known as hardcore horror or splatterpunk, this genre contains stories that are the most violent, goriest, scariest ones on the market. Gore is highly detailed and nothing is left to the imagination of the reader. Literary Examples: The Angel of Vengeance: An Extreme Horror Novel , Teratologist , The Girl Next Door

Gothic horror is a subgenre involving mystery, castle ruins, the fall of the aristocracy, spirits/hauntings, and madness. The varying locations in the house tend to be symbolic of the mental and emotional facets of its occupants. It often combines horror, death, and romance in the same tale. Literary Examples: Dracula , The Picture of Dorian Gray , Wuthering Heights

A subgenre within horror in which ghosts or demons haunt a particular house or another setting, such as the woods or near an ancient burial ground. The focus is often on righting some wrong that was committed in order to set the spirits free. Literary Examples: The Woman in Black , Ghost Story , The Haunting of Hill House

A story that takes place in a historical setting that includes elements of horror. These stories are often based on real-life events or historical eras, sometimes including fictional retellings of real historical figures or atrocities that occurred. The protagonist offers an alternative point of view to known history. Literary Examples: Twelve , The Terror , The Edinburgh Dead


A subgenre in which it is assumed aliens or otherworldly beings originally ruled our planet and will someday return to destroy all of humanity. It is fiction that emphasizes the cosmic horror of the unknown (or unknowable) more than gore or other elements of shock, and is named after American author H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937), who was one of the first authors to explore the genre. Literary Examples: A Study in Emerald , Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows , The Rhesus Chart

A subgenre of horror in which man-made creations become a source of terror. In these stories, you'll often find apocalyptic wastelands and mad scientists, with common tropes like terrible disease, rampant pollution, and mutated animals. Literary Examples: Feed , The Shrinking Man , Swan Song

A subgenre in which non-human creatures hunt, kill and otherwise prey on humans. These creatures could come in the form of classic monsters/ mythological monsters, neo-monsters, small creatures, aliens, giant monsters, werewolves, vampires, or zombies. Literary Examples: The Mongrel , The Sorrows , Little Black Spots

A subgenre in which ancient mythology and folklore play a large role in the story, particularly the darker, terrifying elements of it. One way in which mythic horror is distinguished from fantasy is that mythic horror often takes place in the human world as opposed to a fantastical realm. Literary Examples: The Selkie , The Djinn , The Queen of the Damned

A subgenre of horror involving witchcraft, wizardry, esoteric brotherhoods, and communication with spirits. Other common themes and tropes are spiritualism, psychic phenomena, Voodoo, and characters who have mysterious or secret knowledge and power supposedly attainable only through magical or supernatural means. Literary Examples: A Discovery of Witches , The Mark , The Witches of New York

Psychic Abilities

A subgenre in which humans have psychic abilities. These could include reading minds, speaking with the dead, seeing the past or future, or being able to move objects telepathically. This subgenre is often referred to as paranormal horror and shares crossover tropes with science fiction. However, in science fiction, these psychic abilities are generally explored in ways that are good, while in psychic abilities horror, psychic powers are a source of terror. Literary Examples: Carrie , A Stir of Echoes , Horns


In this subgenre, the character's mind becomes his or her own undoing, such as a serial killer. These stories often involve human fears, mental instability, and emotional insecurities. Psychological horror is often similar to supernatural and haunting subgenres, because the protagonist may be confusing the horrors plaguing their mind with something supernatural. You will often encounter an unreliable narrator in this genre. Literary Examples: American Psycho , Haunted , Diary Of A Madman

Quiet Horror

This subgenre of horror offers a subtler form of fear, rather than explicit gore or violence. Also known as soft horror, quiet horror most often contains a creeping sense of dread in which much of the violence is left to the reader's imagination. Much of the horror presented is cerebral instead of gory. Literary Examples: The Yellow Wallpaper , The Hour of the Oxrun Dead , The Nameless

A subgenre that does not have excessive gore and usually has a teenager protagonist. It could involve monsters, violent deaths, disturbing creatures, or slight gore. There are often coming-of-age issues present, such as autonomy from adults, friendships, young romance/sexuality, and rebellion. Literary Examples: Anna Dressed in Blood , Asylum , Rot & Ruin

Mystery genre and subgenres

Amateur Sleuth

This subgenre usually involves a non-law enforcement character without ties to a detective or sleuthing agency who tries to solve a crime that has been committed against someone close to him or her. It is a subgenre of cozy mystery. Literary Examples: A Willing Murder , Small Town Spin , Prose and Cons

Bumbling Detective

A subgenre in which a character makes a lot of mistakes in solving a mystery, but manages to solve it anyway. There is usually a lot of comedy involved in the process and the protagonist misses important clues, making the process of solving the crime more difficult than it should be. Often, the plot is intricate. Literary Examples: The Spellman Files: Document #1 , The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery , Heat Wave

A subgenre in which the protagonist(s) perpetrate the crime(s). There is usually humor and cleverness involved, along with a sense of adventure. The typical caper story involves thefts, swindles, or kidnappings perpetrated by the main characters and "seen" by the reader. The police investigation attempting to prevent or solve the crimes may also be chronicled, but it is not the primary focus of the story. Literary Examples: The Lies of Locke Lamora , Heist Society , The Hot Rock

Child in Peril

A subgenre of mystery in which a child is kidnapped or disappears. Often, it is the child's parents (or other guardians) who come to the child's rescue. There is often great focus on the parents' anguish and loss as they play a role in finding their child. While there may be violence, it is rarely seen or very understated if toward the child. Literary Examples: Home , The Couple Next Door , The Boy in the Suitcase

A subgenre of mystery intended for a young audience who are not yet classified as young adult (typically 6 – 12 years old). There is usually a child protagonist who solves a mystery, often with the help of his/her friends. Violence is minimal if it exists at all, and there are often life lessons learned. Literary Examples: Three Times Lucky , The Secret of the Old Clock: Nancy Drew #1 , The Westing Game

A subgenre often containing a bloodless crime and a victim that the audience has not developed empathy towards. The detective is almost always amateur, while sex and violence are downplayed. Often, the crime takes place in a small community where everyone knows each other. Literary Examples: The Golden Tresses of the Dead , Crewel and Unusual , Death by Committee

A subgenre in which a professional chef is involved, usually as the protagonist. Murder and/or other elements of crime are often combined with food and recipes. Common settings or themes include bakery/dessert, barbeque, chef, coffee/tea, cooking class, farm/orchard, cheese, chocolate, food clubs/critics, organic food, pizza, restaurants, and wine/vineyards. Literary Examples: Catering to Nobody , Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder , Prime Cut

A subgenre in which the detective has a disability that helps him/her solve a crime. For example, he or she might be blind, deaf, or unable to walk, but the disability helps the main character see things from a different perspective in order to solve the mystery. Literary Examples: The Question of the Dead Mistress , For Whom the Minivan Rolls , The Question of the Felonious Friend

Doctor Detective

A subgenre of mystery in which a physician plays the role of a detective to solve a murder or crime. In these stories, physicians apply their own specialized scientific knowledge to solve crimes that cannot otherwise be solved by police officers or detectives. Literary Examples: Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter , The Doctor Digs a Grave , Blood Dancing

Furry Sleuth

A subgenre in which a dog or cat investigates a crime. It is most often told from the animal's point of view, depicting them as fully intelligent and able to communicate with each other. Most books that qualify as furry sleuth mysteries are subgenres of cozy mysteries in their tone. Literary Examples: Tail Gait , Downton Tabby , The Bark Before Christmas

A subgenre of mystery that usually contains overtly graphic violence and sex, and is often set in an urban setting that is gritty. Slang is often used and credit for the invention of the genre is often given to Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961), a former contributor to pulp magazines. Literary Examples: The Big Sleep , The Maltese Falcon , The Black Dahlia

In this subgenre, the detective is in a historical setting and must solve a crime there. Many authors of historical mysteries focus on particular eras or periods, such as Elizabethan England or Ancient China. Literary Examples: The Lost Girls of Paris , The Paragon Hotel , The Golden Tresses of the Dead

This subgenre of mystery leaves no doubt "who" the perpetrator is. Rather, the story revolves around "how" the criminal is caught. These novels begin with the reader witnessing the murder, thus the plot revolves around how the perpetrator will be caught. Literary Examples: The Demolished Man , The Crossing , A Kiss Before Dying

A subgenre of mystery in which the protagonist is usually an attorney who solves the case on his/her own, while the police are unable to do so or are corrupt. The protagonist's life is often at peril, as is the lives of his significant others or family. This subgenre also includes courtroom dramas. Literary Examples: The Runaway Jury , The Lincoln Lawyer , The Gods of Guilt

Locked Room

Also known as puzzle mysteries, this is a subgenre of mystery in which a crime is committed in a location that seems impossible to enter/exit without being noticed. The protagonist must use careful observation and extraordinary logic to solve the mystery. Edgar Allen Poe is considered to be the first writer in this subgenre with his 1841 short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Literary Examples: And Then There Were None , The Sign of Four , The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Multicultural and Diverse

While typically heavy on characterization, this subgenre of mystery shows a unique, foreign culture with culturally diverse characters. These stories can range from cozy to hardboiled, where the clues and action stem from the differences in the cultures. Literary Examples: Murder in Mesopotamia: A Hercule Poirot Mystery , The Perfect Murder , The Gigolo Murder

Often overlapping with fantasy, these stories contain traditional mystery tropes, with a strange crime or murder. However, a ghost or otherwise supernatural being is responsible for a crime. They are often part of the cozy mystery subgenre, without extensive gore or violence. Literary Examples: Final Shadows , Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery , Better Read Than Dead

Police Procedural

A subgenre of mystery in which police detectives (or a detective and team of technicians) catch a criminal. The point of view in this type of subgenre often switches back and forth between that of the detective(s) and that of the criminal(s). Serial killer mysteries are often included in this subgenre, as are forensic mysteries. Literary Examples: The Black Echo , Rules of Prey , Faceless Killers

Private Detective

A subgenre in which a private investigator—whether professional or amateur—solves a crime or locates a missing person. This subgenre began around the same time as speculative fiction in the mid-nineteenth century and has remained extremely popular for mystery novels as a genre. Literary Examples: Career of Evil , G Is for Gumshoe , Maisie Dobbs

A subgenre in which the perpetrator of the crime or murder is discovered at the end to be one of the least likely characters. These stories are often complex and plot driven, allowing the audience the opportunity to engage in the same process of deduction as the protagonist throughout the investigation of a crime. Literary Examples: The Sentence is Death , Dead Girl Running , The Cabin

Woman in Peril

A subgenre of mystery in which a woman is kidnapped (or in some other kind of trouble) and needs to be saved. A newer, feminist, and more modern take on this subgenre is a story that involves a woman being kidnapped (or becoming the victim of a crime) and saving herself through her own wit and action. Literary Examples: The Shining Girls , Kiss the Girls , Room

A subgenre in which a teenager is the protagonist and solves a crime or murder. Adults in these stories are generally unable to be of much help, corrupt, or ignore the help offered by the protagonist. There are often "coming of age" themes and violence is sometimes downplayed. Literary Examples: One of Us Is Lying , Pretty Little Liars , A Study in Charlotte

romance genres and subgenres


Steadily growing in popularity, this is a subgenre of romance focusing on a relationship with a wealthy and/or powerful lover. There is often an aspect of being a "Cinderella story," and the woman is often of a lower socioeconomic class than the man.

Writing Prompts: Billionaires Literary Examples: Fifty Shades of Grey , The Marriage Bargain , Bared to You

A subgenre of romance in which laughter and fun helps the couple overcome all emotional obstacles to finding love. There is often the theme of strangers who are perfect for each other finding love, or childhood sweethearts coming back together after heartbreak and loss.

Writing Prompts: Comedy Literary Examples: Wallbanger , Can You Keep a Secret? , Perfection

In this subgenre, the story takes place in the present (post 1950) and is focused on complex plots and realistic situations of the time. For example, women in the contemporary romances written prior to 1970 usually quit working when they married or had children, while the female protagonists of contemporary novels written after 1970 usually maintain their career after marriage and children.

Writing Prompts: Contemporary Literary Examples: We Shouldn't , Unmarriageable , Faking It

Fantasy Romance

A subgenre in which the relationship between lovers occurs in a fantasy world that contains magic (and/or magic creatures). There is often adventure that occurs and common tropes such as time travel or superhuman abilities.

Writing Prompts: Fantasy Romance Literary Examples: Sin & Magic , White Stag , Nightchaser

A subgenre of romance set in an old house or castle that is haunted, with some light horror/mystery elements present. Common tropes are family secrets, insanity, incest, and secrets hidden within the home. There is also often a woman in peril theme that is prevalent in this subgenre.

Writing Prompts: Gothic Literary Examples: House of Shadows , Nocturne for a Widow , Mist of Midnight

A subgenre set before 1950 with realistic situations occurring between lovers (based on the time period). Many stories in this subgenre are set amongst real historical events, offering a parallel viewpoint to famous historical characters from the past. Common tropes are relationships across socioeconomic statuses and within feuding families. This subgenre has also been known as "bodice rippers," famed for the female protagonists wearing corsets.

Writing Prompts: Historical Literary Examples: The Parisians , Duchess By Deception , Tempt Me with Diamonds

A subgenre of romance in which lovers meet or unite during the Christmas or Hanukkah season. Common tropes are family, restoring past heartache, and returning to holiday tradition, as it was experienced in childhood.

Writing Prompts: Holidays Literary Examples: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor , Unwrapping Her Perfect Match: A London Legends Christmas Romance , Baby, It's Cold Outside


A subgenre of romance in which a religious or spiritual connection is an important part of a relationship. In these novels, there is a spiritual journey that the characters take that is an inherent part of their connection and romance. They can be set in any context or belief system.

Writing Prompts: Inspirational Literary Examples: What the Wind Knows , LASS: A Friends to Lovers Standalone Romance , Down a Country Road

A subgenre of romance featuring military personnel. These novels usually include some action and/or suspense, and the hero or heroine (or both) are active duty or former military personnel. The subgenre also includes stories that are set on military bases or vessels.

Writing Prompts: Military Literary Examples: The Darkest Hour , The Unsung Hero , Whispers in the Dark

In this subgenre of romance, there is often a relationship with a supernatural being, such as a vampire, werewolf, demon, shapeshifter, angel, ghost, witch or other entity. This subgenre can also include settings that are science fiction or fantasy, or any world with extraordinary elements that are magical.

Writing Prompts: Paranormal Literary Examples: Summoned to Thirteenth Grave , Vengeance Road , Alpha's Secret: A Bear Shifter MMA Romance

A subgenre set during the period of the British Regency (1811–1820) or early 19th century. They have their own unique plot and stylistic conventions, such as much intelligent, fast-paced dialogue between the protagonists without explicit sex. The plots often involve social activities such as carriage rides, morning calls, dinner parties, plays, operas, and balls, and marriages of convenience is a common trope.

Writing Prompts: Regency Literary Examples: Not the Duke's Darling , Beauty and the Baron: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling , Ten Kisses to Scandal

Romantic Suspense

A subgenre involving suspense or mystery elements that add to the romantic plot. While the focus of these stories is on the romance itself, they contain common tropes to mystery novels such as stalkers, crimes to be solved, kidnapping, or even murder.

Writing Prompts: Romantic Suspense Literary Examples: A Merciful Fate , Moonlight Scandals: A de Vincent Novel , You Will Suffer

Science Fiction Romance

A subgenre that is set in the future and often involves aliens. In many cases, there is a romantic relationship between humans and aliens. There are also common tropes that are shared with science fiction, such as technological innovation, space exploration, and living on other planets/worlds.

Writing Prompts: Science Fiction Romance Literary Examples: Nightchaser , Angie's Gladiator: A SciFi Alien Romance , Rising From the Depths

A subgenre of romance in which one or both of the lovers is involved with sports, such as a football player or race car driver. Much of the romantic interaction takes place during practicing or performing this sport, and there are often elements of action combined with romance.

Writing Prompts: Sports Literary Examples: Ruthless King , Overnight Sensation , Fired Up

Time Travel

A subgenre of romance in which a character travels through time to encounter his or her love interest. A recurring theme in this subgenre is the conflict of falling in love and making the decision to stay in the alternate time or return to the time the protagonist came from. Some time travel romance settings are set in present day, and the character travels to the past. In others, the character travels to the future.

Writing Prompts: Time Travel Literary Examples: Outlander , The Time Traveler's Wife , A Knight in Shining Armor

Western Romance

A subgenre of romance set in the Wild West (or West, if contemporary) and often with a cowboy/cowgirl as a main character. This subgenre contains both historical western romance and contemporary western romance novels. Historical western romance contains common tropes such as a wagon train journey, a bank robbery, a land war, a cattle drive, a saloon brawl, or a gunfight. Contemporary western romance novels are generally set near small towns with ranches, ranges, rodeos, and honky-tonks, and the protagonist rides a truck (in addition to a horse).

Writing Prompts: Western Romance Literary Examples: The Texan's Wager , Comanche Moon , Texas Glory

A subgenre focusing on young adult or adolescent love interests. A common theme is the exploration of sexuality and the obstacles of young love, such as family/socioeconomic class pressure, academic pursuits, and/or competition. There is also a broad spectrum of relationship types in these novels, such as LGBTQ relationships.

Writing Prompts: Young Adult Literary Examples: King of Scars , Be The Girl , Even if I Fall

science fiction genre and subgenres

A subgenre of science fiction in which extraterrestrial beings are encountered by humans. These encounters can range from romantic to traumatic, and common themes are communication, fear of the "other," intergalactic war, and a greater sense of one's place in the universe.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Galactic Pot-Healer , Foreigner: 10th Anniversary Edition , The Mount

In this subgenre of science fiction, the world as we know it is different due to alternate events taking place in history. There is often "what if" scenarios that occur at important points in history and present outcomes that are different than what's on historical record.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Man in the High Castle , 11/22/63 , The Red Garden

Alternate/Parallel Universe

A subgenre in which there is another reality co-existing with the present reality. These stories are typically about traveling to parallel worlds or universes that are either vastly different from our own, or very recognizable. There is a connection with this subgenre and the time travel subgenre, as well.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Zero World , The Gods Themselves , The Long Earth


A subgenre in which a world disaster has occurred, such as a pandemic virus or nuclear holocaust. Common themes in this subgenre are community, destruction of ecosystems, pandemic viruses, survival, human nature, and dystopian societies.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Wool , CyberStorm , The Road

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is use of biotechnology, genetic manipulation, and/or eugenics that occur in the near future. The subgenre stems from cyberpunk but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Common themes are bio-hackers, biotech mega-corporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. The examination of bio-engineering is often a dark one.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Unwind , The Dervish House , Leviathan

A subgenre of science fiction written for younger audiences, with protagonists who are early adolescents or younger. "Coming of age" scenarios are often present. Science fiction themes such as aliens, advanced technology, and dystopian societies are often common, but violence and other "adult" themes are downplayed.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet , Aliens for Breakfast: A Stepping Stone Book , Whales on Stilts!


A subgenre in which humans (or other lifeforms) move to a distant area or world and create a new settlement. Humans may start a colony for various reasons such as the Earth's overpopulation, an uninhabitable Earth, the discovery of other worlds, acquisition of resources, or threat of human extinction.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Last and First Men: A Story of the near and far future , The Word for World is Forest , The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

This subgenre contains a lot of humor and satirization of science fiction tropes, with a tendency toward a pessimistic view of humanity. There is often mockery of social conventions. This is a rather small subgenre of science fiction that is more common in short stories than novels and frequently seen in movies.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus , The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition

A subgenre of science fiction in which man and machine are combined, either literally or metaphorically, and there are multiple forms of virtual reality. The Earth is typically the setting for cyberpunk stories, but it is immersed in a cyber world. Common themes are the exploration of the relationship between humans and computers, often in a dark and bleak world, as well as cybernetics, prosthetics, cyborgs, and the internet.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Neuromancer , Snow Crash , Software

Dying Earth

A subgenre in which the Earth is dying. Stories in this subgenre often take place at the end of the Earth's existence, thus occurring in the future. Common themes are fatality, reflection, lost innocence, idealism, entropy, exhaustion of resources, and hope. Settings in these stories are often barren and sterile, with a fading sun. There is overlap with this subgenre and apocalyptic fiction.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Time Machine , Zothique , Tales of the Dying Earth

A subgenre of science fiction in which the world has become the opposite of a utopia and the protagonist must liberate himself/herself (or an entire community) from it. Common themes are a police state, overwhelming poverty, government control, and lack of personal freedom. Stories in this subgenre often include deep social control and exploration of what we fear will happen in the future of humanity.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Fahrenheit 451 , Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , A Clockwork Orange

Galactic Empire

In this subgenre, there is an empire that spans galaxies. The story usually takes place in the capital of the empire and often includes elements of dystopian science fiction. The protagonist is often a member of the empire's military forces.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Constitution: Book 1 of The Legacy Fleet Series , Bloodline: Star Wars , Darkest Hour: Liberation War Book 1

Generation Ship

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is a prolonged voyage on a spaceship and the original occupants have passed away, leaving their descendants to remain or find another place to live. As the ship journeys across the universe, generations have lived and died onboard, and social change often occurs. There is often an advanced ecosystem onboard and usually, the ship will have a destination, such as a distant planet to colonize.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Orphans of the Sky , Captive Universe , Promised Land

Hard Science Fiction

A subgenre in which there is extreme scientific details, and less focus on characters or settings. This is a subgenre that concentrates on relating stories from a correct scientific perspective with great attention to technological detail. These stories often include details from hard sciences, with some speculative technology incorporated.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Ringworld , The Martian , Dragon's Egg


A subgenre in which there are beings who have lived (and continue to live) infinitely. The focus of this subgenre is eternal life, either as a blessing that is full of limitless opportunity, or the end of change that is full of boredom and stagnation.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: After Many a Summer Dies the Swan , The Boat of a Million Years , Methuselah's Children

Lost Worlds

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is a voyage to unknown or isolated places such as islands, continents, jungles, or worlds, resulting in a discovery of some wonder or ancient technology. These stories usually contain elements of adventure, and the worlds visited are usually isolated from our own world, containing their own history and unique geography.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Journey to the Center of the Earth , A Princess of Mars , Lost Horizon

A subgenre in which there is interstellar or interplanetary armed conflict. Military values such as bravery, sacrifice, duty, and camaraderie are common themes, and the protagonist is typically a soldier. Military science fiction often features futuristic technology and weapons, with the setting being outer space or on a different planet.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Ender's Game , Starship Troopers , Old Man's War

Mind Transfer

A subgenre of science fiction in which a human consciousness is downloaded into a computer or transferred to another human brain. This can occur in several ways: via computer, some kind of psychic power, alien technology, physical brain transplantation, etc., and the transfer can be temporary or permanent. Often, the process destroys the original or copies are made.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The World of Null-A , Kiln People , Lord of Light

Mundane Science Fiction

A subgenre that is set in the very near future, with believable use of technology that is currently available or could realistically be available in the near future. These stories favor scientific realities, such as biotechnology and environmental change, and are set on Earth.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Interzone , Schismatrix Plus , The Beast With Nine Billion Feet

A subgenre of science fiction in which the story is inspired by, or closely imitates, myth and folklore. The story may be a complete retelling of a popular myth or could just draw from tropes and themes that are common in mythology. There is a variable level of real science, since myth has fantastical elements.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Rendezvous with Rama , The Queen of Air and Darkness , Perelandra

A subgenre similar to cyberpunk in which the use of nanotechnology is explored, along with its effects on human lives. The nanopunk world is one in which the theoretical premise of nanotech is a reality, and it is well integrated with our world and human existence.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Tech Heaven , The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer , Prey


A subgenre in which there are robotics and AI. This subgenre is generally focused on one of three mentalities: pro-robot, anti-robot, or ambivalence. In a pro-robot plot, robots are benevolent. In an anti-robot plot, there is generally confrontation with robots, androids or AI. In an ambivalent plot, robots are useful but there is some anxiety about them.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Tik-Tok , The Silver Eggheads , Men, Martians and Machines

Science Fantasy

In this subgenre, there are elements of fantasy, but with the use of advanced technology (making it lean more toward science fiction). These stories show a magical futuristic world, leaning toward soft science. These stories can also contain science that is so well develop that it appears to be magic, and/or characters who possess abilities through scientific technology that seem to be magical.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: A Game of Universe , The Family Tree , The Dragonriders of Pern

Science Horror

A subgenre of science fiction in which there are also elements of horror. Often, these stories include themes such as medical research resulting in new diseases, aliens attempting to kill humans, artificial intelligence that revolts against its maker(s), or atomic bombs and technology that results in human destruction.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Infected , The Hunger , The Sandman

A subgenre with elements of the surreal and postmodern themes. It crosses the genres of literary fiction and speculative fiction, including science fiction, fantasy or both. Slipstream is often defined as fantastical, illogical, surreal, and jarring.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Bridge , Breakfast of Champions , White Noise

Soft Science Fiction

A subgenre with less focus on science and more focus on characters. These stories usually deal with the soft sciences and social sciences, and are more concerned with human activity and affairs than scientific detail.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Babel-17 , Riverworld , The Left Hand of Darkness

Space Exploration

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is exploration of outer space, and great detail is given concerning the voyage. Some of these stories pose space exploration to be a logical step for humanity, while others use it as a necessity for the survival of the species. In general, these stories focus on the faults and frailties of humanity.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Constitution: Book 1 of the Legacy Fleet Trilogy , Titanborn , Rift: The Resistance Book One

Space Opera

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is swashbuckling action and epic, panoramic settings. These stories often contain over-the-top characters, themes, and plots. There is usually a romantic and/or melodramatic approach to storytelling, and the plot contains a lot of adventure. The plot doesn't always stay true to the accepted laws of science, mathematics, or the nature of space as we know it.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Foundation Series , Hyperion , The Ender Quartet

A subgenre of science fiction in which there is espionage, high-tech duels, and over-the-top gadgets. There is less focus on the science behind the gadgets as what can be done with them. The plot often focuses on the glamour, adventure, and daring attitude of spies (think, James Bond), including romantic interludes with beautiful women.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Baroness: Sonic Slave , Crown of Slaves , Call for the Dead: A George Smiley Novel

A subgenre of that is generally set in Victorian times, with the use of steam power as advanced technology. There is minimal scientific detail and the gadgets are often best described as retro-futuristic. These stories contain a sort of reimagining of the capabilities of modern technology through a Victorian lens, and create an alternate history.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Anubis Gates , Homunculus: The Adventures of Langdon St Ives , The Difference Engine

In this subgenre of science fiction, the main characters travel through time. Sometimes, this can mean the character(s) move to a point in time that is in the future; sometimes, they can travel to a point in time that is the past. There is also a trend in these novels for characters to move to travel to parallel or alternate universes in an unknown time.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: A Sound of Thunder , Guardians of Time , The Time Machine

A subgenre in which humanity lives in a utopia and technology has removed society's problems. In many of these stories, war and sickness have been done away with, often through advanced technology. There is often much discussion of social implications and exploration of social sciences, approaching topics such as: What does a Utopia look like? Is one person's Utopia the same as another's?

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: The Giver , The Dispossessed , Childhood's End

A subgenre of science fiction created for an adolescent or young adult audience in which the protagonist is of the same age range. There is often budding romance within a dystopian society, and the protagonist faces coming-of-age issues such as autonomy, rebellion, survival without adults, etc.

Writing Prompts: Watch the video or read them Literary Examples: Dragon Pearl , The Similars , The Disasters

Thriller and Suspense genre and subgenres

A subgenre in which there is much physical action, and the protagonist must fight for his or her survival or to save the victim of a crime or kidnapping. In many cases, the protagonist is a current or former member of the armed forces, special forces, or other government agency. Villains are often internationally located and the hunt for them often occurs across borders. Literary Examples: The Killer Collective , The Cleaner , Freedom Road

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which there is dark humor surrounding espionage and organize crime. Protagonists often having biting wit while being involved in adventurous activities related to solving a crime or thwarting the evil plans of secret societies. Literary Examples: The Rook , Horrorstör , Crocodile on the Sandbank

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which a protagonist must face (and defeat) a large, powerful organization or entity to stop a killer or halt a destructive plot. These stories often have protagonists who are scholars, journalists or amateur investigators who play a role in toppling secret societies or conspiracies. Common themes are rumors, lies, propaganda, secret histories, and counter-propaganda. Literary Examples: Betrayal , Mosaic: Breakthrough , The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller

In this subgenre, the protagonist confronts a major crime plot, such as a murder, kidnapping, or theft. These stories often begin with a protagonist, who is going about his or her daily life, before becoming involved in a crime (either as a victim or helping the victim). He or she then uses wit and specialty knowledge to help solve the crime, with or without the help of authorities. Literary Examples: Connections in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel , The Wedding Guest: An Alex Delaware Novel , A Merciful Fate

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which the protagonist is up against a major natural disaster that he or she must escape or stop. Disasters could include natural disasters, such as earthquakes, meteor strikes or tsunamis; or man-made disasters, such as nuclear explosions, cyber-attacks closing down infrastructure, or a biological weapon. Literary Examples: The Virus , The Last Tribe , Quake

A subgenre in which there are secret agents. These stories are often set during war time. Often, the agent goes rogue to uncover corruption among his or her peers. Common themes include rivalries and intrigues between the major powers, corruption within modern intelligence agencies, rogue states, international criminal organizations, global terrorist networks, maritime piracy and technological sabotage. Literary Examples: The Killer Collective , Betrayal , The Cleaner

A subgenre in which forensic scientists play a major role in solving a crime. Common themes include finding evidence at a crime scene, blood splatter, DNA, bones, fingerprints, or other forensic details. There is usually a race against the clock to catch the perpetrator before someone else dies or another major crime is committed. Literary Examples: Scarpetta , Body of Evidence , Break No Bones

A subgenre of thriller & suspense set in a historical time period that includes details about the era. Real historical figures are often included in the plot, or encountered through a fictional character's point of view. These stories often concern real historical mysteries, documents, or conspiracies but offer an alternate reality connected to them. Some novels in this genre go back and forth between present-day characters and the historical events or documents they are discovering/researching. Literary Examples: A Discovery of Witches , Crucible: A Thriller , The Road Beyond Ruin

In this subgenre, the plot centers on legal dilemmas or courtroom dramas. The protagonist is usually an attorney who encounters danger and solves the crime, while the police are unable to do so or are corrupt. The protagonist's life is often at peril, as is the lives of his significant others or family. Literary Examples: An Innocent Client , The Rule of Law , In Good Faith

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which the protagonist is in the medical field (or closely tied to it) and must use his or her knowledge of medicine to solve a mystery, cure a virus, halt or pandemic, or catch the perpetrator of a medical-related crime. Often, the story takes place among medical settings and the details that eventually bring the perpetrator to justice (or lead to a cure for a deadly virus) involve medical research or specific medical knowledge. Literary Examples: Blow Fly: A Scarpetta Novel , A Case of Need: A Suspense Thriller , Phantom Limb

A subgenre in which the protagonist is in the military (or former military) and must use his or her training to solve a mystery or crime. The subgenre also includes stories that are set on military bases or vessels. Common themes are brotherhood, avenging wrongs, protecting family members of servicemembers or former servicemembers, cartel interaction, and rogue militias. Literary Examples: The Trident Deception , The Karma Booth , Persuader

Mystery Thriller

A subgenre of thriller & suspense and mystery, in which there is a "ticking clock" or mystery that the protagonist must solve before time runs out. This subgenre is different than a regular mystery in that it is fast-paced and the protagonist is generally on the run or racing against the clock to solve the crime or find a solution. Literary Examples: An Anonymous Girl , Two Can Keep a Secret , The Au Pair

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which there are elements of the paranormal and some characters display supernatural abilities. Otherworldly elements that are introduced are usually as an antagonistic force, but the plot line and feel are distinctly that of a thriller. Literary Examples: Daughters of the Lake , The Rise of Magicks: Chronicles of The One , The Shining

A subgenre in which the protagonist is connected with the government (usually low-level at the beginning) and must solve a crime or dilemma involving international relations. These stories are usually about a political power struggle, and can involve national or international political scenarios. Common themes are political corruption, terrorism, and warfare. This subgenre often overlaps with the conspiracy thriller subgenre. Literary Examples: Justice Redeemed , Duty and Honor , Target: Alex Cross

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which the protagonist becomes involved in a situation that threatens his/her sanity or mental state. These stories often emphasize the unstable or delusional psychological states of its characters, and is told through the viewpoint of psychologically stressed characters. There is a combination of tropes from mystery, drama, and action. Literary Examples: The Girl on the Train , Gone Girl , Behind Closed Doors

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which a religious artifact or sect-held secret is discovered, and different groups (some secret) vie for control. These stories utilize the history and myths of religion, and the protagonist generally has an in-depth knowledge or experience with religious training and/or upbringing. Literary Examples: The Da Vinci Code , The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series , Sanctus


A subgenre in which there is cutting-edge technology that either empowers or threatens the protagonist. This is a hybrid genre drawing on tropes from science fiction, thrillers, spy fiction, and action novels. There are technical details concerning technology and the mechanics of various disciplines (espionage, martial arts, politics). There is often a focus on military action. Literary Examples: Jurassic Park , Daemon , The Martian

A subgenre of thriller & suspense in which the protagonist is a young adult or adolescent. There are often "coming of age" lessons to be learned, such as loneliness, romantic interactions, and survival without adults. Friends, companions, and/or romantic interests often help the protagonist solve the problem or escape the villain, and adventurous, nail-biting chase scenes are the norm. Literary Examples: One of Us is Lying , There's Someone Inside Your House , I Hunt Killers

western genre and subgenres

Bounty Hunters

A subgenre of western in which there is a morally ambiguous protagonist who hunts criminals to receive a bounty. Common themes include the construction of a railroad or a telegraph line on the wild frontier, ranchers protecting their family ranch from rustlers or large landowners or who build a ranch empire, revenge stories, and outlaw gang plots. Literary Examples: The Bounty Hunters: A Classic Tale of Frontier Law , Bounty Hunter , Broadway Bounty

Cattle Drive

A subgenre in which there a long journey the protagonist must make to move a herd of cattle. There are often life lessons learned along the way and friendships formed, as well as potential for romance. Literary Examples: The Chuckwagon Trail , The Daybreakers: The Sacketts , The Last Cattle Drive

A subgenre created for children that contains western tropes. The typical audience of these stories are children, ages 7 through 12, and western tropes are present but presented in an acceptable form for younger children to read. Common themes are friendships, autonomy, adventure, and relationships with wildlife and nature. Literary Examples: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive , By The Great Horn Spoon! , Old Yeller

A subgenre of western in which there is humor, satire, or parody of traditional Western tropes. Common themes include cowboys or "sharpshooters" who don't know how to shoot or ride a horse, or drunken cowboys whose antics are entertaining to their compatriots. Literary Examples: Anything For Billy , Hey, Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky? , How the West Was Lost

A subgenre in which the protagonist is on a quest for riches, usually in the form of found gold. These protagonists and plotlines were immortalized in the 1860s by authors Bret Harte and Mark Twain, while the California gold rush was in full swing. Literary Examples: Calico Palace , Daughter of Fortune , Walk On Earth a Stranger


A subgenre of western in which the protagonist must go up against an antagonist in gun battle. The protagonist and antagonist are often experts in pistols, and each tends to own a special weapon whose reputation precedes it. The climax of these stories is a final gun battle with specific "sportsman" rules, usually taking place in an agreed-upon setting and with a crowd watching. Literary Examples: Shane , The Autumn of the Gun , The Dawn of Fury

A subgenre of western in which settlers must travel to and claim land that is available for homesteading, usually in Oklahoma or surrounding states. Common themes are survival within harsh elements, wild animals, benevolent and unfriendly natives, competing/feuding families or gangs, and making the land hospitable to growing food and sustaining life. Literary Examples: Joline's Redemption , Gabriel's Atonement , Sarah's Surrender

A subgenre of western in which the protagonist is a lawman who must help bring order to a town on the frontier. The protagonist is often escaping a violent or tragic past and has often lost family or loved ones to frontier violence. Common themes are saloon brawls, gambling, outsiders, outlaws, and romance with a local resident. Literary Examples: Lonesome Dove , Deadman's Fury , Bowdrie

Mountain Men

A subgenre in which the stalwart, lonely protagonist roams the mountain ranges of the West. Common themes are survival against harsh elements of nature, loneliness, civilization vs. the wilderness, and feuding families. Literary Examples: Power of the Mountain Man , The Last Mountain Man , Revenge of the Mountain Man

A subgenre of western in which there are colorful villains. It usually involves train robberies, bank robberies, or some other form of criminal activity taking place in the West. There is a certain moral ambiguity to protagonists, making them "loveable bad guys" or villains with a heart. There is generally a romantic interest who is in a likewise unsavory career, such as a prostitute or barmaid. Literary Examples: Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West , Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories , I Rode With Jesse James

Prairie Settlement

In this subgenre, the protagonist must play a role in settling on the vast plains of the Midwest, usually facing harsh weather and circumstances. Common themes are benevolent or unfriendly natives, surviving harsh winters, finding sustenance in difficult conditions, and a budding romance with other settlers (particularly widows or widowers who are on their own). Literary Examples: Prarie Justice , Prairie Crossing: A Novel of the West , West Winds of Wyoming

A subgenre of western in which a protagonist endures and survives a massacre or some other horrible event, and must find those who are responsible for it to achieve justice. In many cases, the protagonist is seeking justice for loved ones or family members who have been murdered. There is a sense of righteous anger and common themes are retribution, justice, personal peace, and loyalty. Literary Examples: Cade's Revenge , Montana Revenge , The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

Wagon Train

A subgenre of western in which there is a journey taken by pioneers from the East looking to settle in the West. These tales are of an epic nature and often include drama such as budding romance and feuds between travelers. Literary Examples: Raveled Ends of Sky: Women of the West Novels , A Long Way to Go , Sawbones

A subgenre in which the protagonist is an adolescent or young adult, and comes of age as the story progresses. These stories are intended for an adolescent or young adult audience and contain themes such as friendship, young love, escape from adult or responsible influence, and rebellion. Literary Examples: Vengeance Road , Under a Painted Sky , Gunslinger Girl

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The Master List of Book Genres: 95 Fiction & Nonfiction Genres

POSTED ON Jul 19, 2023

Audrey Hirschberger

Written by Audrey Hirschberger

Not sure what genre your current book is? We’re here to help! We’ve compiled the ultimate list of book genres to put your confusion to bed once and for all. 

When you go through all the work of self-publishing your book, the last thing you want to do is mislabel it. That’s where our master list of book genres comes in. This list of book genres will help you to definitively place your book, so it can be found and shared by your target readers. 

Sometimes, your book will encompass more than one genre. In fact, it could be a mix of four or five genres! Our list of book genres will help you determine precisely how to label your book – and ensure it receives the love it deserves.  So, without further ado, let’s dive into the only book genres list you’ll ever need. 

This List of Book Genres Contains:

The ultimate list of book genres (both fiction and nonfiction).

Here is the definitive list of book genres that are used today. The first 79 items in our list of book genres are types of fiction , followed by all the nonfiction genres. They are listed in alphabetical order for ease of navigation.  

1. Action/Adventure fiction

The first genre in our list of book genres is action & adventure fiction. Action & adventure books contain a risk-filled journey and a thrilling series of action sequences. The threat of danger is ever-present, and the plot moves quickly. 

Examples : The Ryanverse series by Tom Clancy and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

2. Children’s fiction

Children’s fiction includes made-up stories that are written specifically for children. They cover themes and language that are age-appropriate and can contain many different book genres and subgenres within the pages. 

Examples : Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne.

3. Classic fiction

Classics are fictional books that have stood the test of time and are considered exceptional works of literature. Classic fiction is often used in academic discussions. 

Examples : Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. 

4. Contemporary fiction

Contemporary fiction stories are set in modern times and don’t contain any elements of fantasy (see below). These stories give the reader a window into a specific human experience. Some may be written for entertainment, and others may be written as political or social statements. 

Examples : A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

5. Fantasy 

Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres in our list of book genres. Books in the fantasy genre include supernatural or magical elements. These can be set on Earth, or in completely made-up worlds. A fantasy book series is not bound by the laws of science, physics, or even reality. 

There are many subgenres of fantasy, including:

6. Dark fantasy 

Dark fantasy books are written in a tone that evokes a feeling of dread. They feature morally gray characters and often include elements of horror. Sometimes the story is told from a villain or monster’s point of view. In dark fantasy, the events that might shock in an actual horror book are portrayed as normal. 

Examples : The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

7. Fairy tales

No list of book genres would be complete without fairy tales. The stories of Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm Brothers are what we most associate with “classic” fairy tales. They rely on themes of good vs. evil, contain a moral lesson (often for children), and usually end with a “happily ever after.” 

Examples : Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.

8. Folktales

A folktale is a story or legend that originated in a particular region or group of people and was passed down through generations. Most folktales are hundreds of years old, but modern fantasy writers often take inspiration from these tales. 

Examples : Momotaro and Arabian Nights .

9. Heroic fantasy 

Heroic fantasy centers around a “hero” on a quest, and relies heavily on themes of good vs. evil. 

Examples : The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

10. High fantasy

There is often confusion between high fantasy vs. low fantasy. The easiest way to distinguish the two is that high fantasy is set in an alternate or secondary world. There is often a quest involved, as well as high stakes like preventing the end of the world or conquering an evil overlord. 

High fantasy books tend to have lots of characters and a high page count – and are therefore sometimes called “epic fantasy” books. 

Examples : A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin and the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

11. Historical fantasy

Historical fantasy stories are set in during an easily recognizable historical period – but with magic added in. 

Examples : Babel by R.F. Kuang and Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

12. Low fantasy

Low fantasy is a fantasy story that is set on Earth, where magic interacts with humans. It often has a more intimate and personal story arc than high fantasy stories. 

Examples : The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. 

13. Magical realism

Some consider magical realism to be its own genre, and others a subgenre of fantasy. This genre doesn’t contain magical creatures, but instead focuses on magical things that happen in our world. There is a general underpinning of magic that is often portrayed as commonplace. 

Examples : One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

14. Mythic fantasy 

Mythic fantasy centers around mythology, most often Greek or Roman mythology. The story may focus on the gods themselves, on their descendants, or on humans who interact with the gods.  

Examples : Circe by Madeline Miller and Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan. 

15. Urban fantasy 

Urban fantasy is a fantasy book set in a city. These stories are usually set in the real world (low fantasy) and are about the relations between humans and supernatural beings.  

Examples : The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

16. Graphic novel

Graphic novels are works that are highly illustrated, with a series of comic panels and speech bubbles to tell the story. Graphic novels aren’t limited in terms of scope and can be used to cover many different book genres in our list of genres. 

You will find lots of fantasy and sci-fi graphic novels, but also nonfiction, historical fiction, and classics! 

Examples : Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Watchmen by Alan Moore.

17. Historical fiction

Next on our list of book genres is historical fiction. These are fiction books that are inspired by real events in history but are not factual retellings. They allow readers to be transported into the past through the eyes of one or more characters.  

Examples : The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

Every list of book genres needs a little horror in the mix! Horror is an increasingly popular book genre, with many subgenres nested under it. Horror stories are fictional works meant to disturb or frighten. Some horror subgenres include:

19. Body horror

Body horror features graphic mutilations, disfigurations, or violations of the human body.

Examples : Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

20. Comedy horror

Comedy horror books are one of the more interesting (and contradictory) on the list of book genres. They are just as likely to make you laugh as they are to make you scream. They are often referred to as “black comedies,” and rely heavily on the unexpected. 

Examples : Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix and Man, F*ck This House by Brian Asman.

21. Gothic horror

Gothic horror features a battle between humanity and unnatural evil forces. The overall feel of gothic books is quite bleak and gloomy, and they are often set in castles or old manor houses. There is often a descent into madness involved. 

Examples : The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

22. Lovecraftian/Cosmic horror

Lovecraftian horror, also known as “cosmic horror” was popularized by the author H.P. Lovecraft (Imagine inventing your own category in the long list of book genres!). Lovecraftian novels assume that there are otherworldly forces that once ruled the Earth and are here again to destroy us. It relies on the dread that things are outside of your control. 

Examples : The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and The Croning by Laird Barron.

23. Paranormal horror

Paranormal horror includes supernatural themes such as hauntings, curses, and possessions.

Examples : The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

24. Post-apocalyptic horror

Post-apocalyptic horror is set after our civilization has collapsed. It examines how we survive amidst zombies, plagues, climate change, or whatever disaster wiped humanity out.

Examples : The Stand by Stephen King and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

25. Psychological horror

Psychological horror plays with your mind and twists your thoughts. There doesn’t need to be any monster for the fear to work its magic. Psychological books play with paranoia and self-doubt.

Examples : Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

26. Quiet horror

Quiet horror or “soft horror” leaves out the graphic scenes of some of the other horror types on our list of book genres. Instead of graphic violence, it relies on the atmosphere and mood to completely creep you out. 

Examples : December Park by Ronald Malfi and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

27. Slasher

Slasher books contain sociopathic villains who are trying to kill the protagonists. They feature a lot of violence and suspense. Examples : Psycho by Robert Bloch and The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum.

28. LGBTQ+ 

Any fiction book that places LGBTQ+ characters at the forefront is considered LGBTQ+ fiction. It can otherwise fall into a number of genres on this master list of book genres.

Examples : Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

29. Literary fiction

Literary fiction is fiction writing that is considered highly valuable and artistic. These books often cover serious topics that make the reader stop and think. They can blend with many genres in this list of book genres. 

Examples : The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. 

30. Mystery

One of the most fun genres in our master list of book genres is mystery. Mystery books contain an event (often a murder or a crime) that remains a mystery until the end of the book. These page-turners keep you guessing and often feature big plot twists. 

Some subgenres of mystery include:

The first mystery subgenre on our list of book genres is capers. Capers are usually told from the point of view of the thief. They are light-hearted and humorous mysteries that focus on how (and if) they can get away with the crime. 

Examples : The Heist by Daniel Silva and The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block.

32. Cozy mystery

Cozy mysteries are not grim or gruesome. They are light-hearted, and usually set in small towns where a crime is solved by an amateur detective – often a woman. 

Examples : A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette and Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano.

33. Gumshoe/Detective mystery

Detective mysteries don’t have direct police tie-ins, and the mystery is solved directly by a professional or amateur detective. 

Examples : The Terry Orr series by Jim Fusilli and the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs.

34. Historical mystery

Many items in this list of book genres are crossovers between two different book genres. Historical mysteries are fictional mysteries set in a historic time period.

Examples : Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara and Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia. 

35. Howdunnits

Unlike the other mystery types on our list of book genres, Howdunit mysteries are not about finding the perpetrator. In fact, they usually tell you who committed the crime straight away – and then focus on answering HOW the crime was committed. 

Examples : A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin and The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester.

36. Locked room mystery

Next on the ultimate book genres list are locked room mystery books. These books cover “impossible” crimes – such as a murder committed in a windowless room that was locked from the inside. OR – they feature a small group of characters stuck together in a confined space. 

Examples : Malice by Keigo Higashino and One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. 

Noir books, like film noir, involve classic morally-compromised detectives in trench coats solving crimes. Noir stories are usually set in gritty cities and have a dark or bleak atmosphere. 

Examples : The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and Queenpin by Megan Abbott.

38. Procedural/Hard-boiled mystery

Hard-boiled mysteries are more hardcore than other mystery types on our list of book genres. They include more violent, sex, and graphic details, and often include forensic science and autopsy reports – closely following an actual police procedure.

Examples : The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane.

39. Supernatural mystery

Supernatural mysteries combine elements of two other items on our book genres list: horror and fantasy. They involve mysteries that appear to include supernatural elements (which may or may not be explained with non-supernatural solutions).

Examples : The Enigma of Room 622 by Joël Dicker and The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie.

40. New adult

New adult books are a newly developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–29 age range. New adult fiction includes more adult themes and graphic sex scenes than young adult books but still focuses on story arcs about coming-of-age of finding identity.

Examples : Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and The Deal by Elle Kennedy.

41. Romance

Nothing on our list of book genres is read as voraciously as romance novels. Romance books turn some real profit for authors and center around would-be lovers and the obstacles they face in getting together.

Some subgenres of romance include:

42. Contemporary romance

Contemporary romance books take place in modern day and feature more relatable and realistic situations. 

Examples : Beach Read by Emily Henry and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.

43. Dark romance

Dark romance is one of the most intense items on our list of book genres. It contains morally-gray characters and very mature content. These stories often come with trigger warnings, and center around plots of trauma and violence such as stalking, kidnapping, sex trafficking, or the mafia. 

Examples : Asking for It by Lilah Pace and Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton.

44. Erotic romance

Erotic romance books focus on the buildup of sexual interactions and explicit sex scenes between characters. 

Examples : Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and Bared to You by Sylvia Day. 

45. Fantasy romance (Romantasy)

Like others on this list of book genres, fantasy romance books mix (you guessed it) two genres. In this example, it’s fantasy and romance. They follow a typical romance book formula but are set in fantasy worlds. 

Examples : Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

46. Gothic romance

Gothic romance novels are dark and gloomy and focus on the hurdles women face to be with the person they love. There are often secrets and mysteries involved, and they are usually set in old manor houses. 

Examples : Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen and Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood.

47. Historical romance

Historical romance stories are romance books set in a specific historic era. 

Examples : Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. 

48. Paranormal romance

Paranormal romance books usually feature romantic partners that are supernatural – such as vampires or werewolves. 

Examples : The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. 

49. Regency

Regency romance novels are typically set during the Regency Era in England (1795–1837) and focus on the societal norms of that time. Think balls, walks on the promenade, and marriages with much ado. 

Examples : The Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn and Arabella by Georgette Heyer. 

50. Romantic comedy

Romantic comedy books are precisely how they sound – romance books with ridiculous events and obstacles that will make you laugh out loud.

Examples : Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean and Shortcake by Lucy Watson.

51. Romantic suspense

Romantic suspense novels are closely tied with gothic romance – which is where they first originated. You can think of romantic suspense novels as being about 50% romance and 50% suspense/mystery.

Examples : Verity by Colleen Hoover and The Witness by Nora Roberts. 

52. Sci-fi romance

Sci-fi romance is a romance story with a science fiction setting or plot line. This could revolve around space travel, time travel, or any other sci-fi theme (see below). 

Examples : The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer. 

Satire books use humor and irony to poke fun at (or discredit) politics, systems of government, or societal norms. 

Examples : Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Animal Farm by George Orwell. 

54. Science fiction

On our list of book genres, science fiction is most closely related to fantasy, with made-up worlds and species. But where science fiction and fantasy differ is that science and technology are at the root of science fiction stories. They still follow the laws of physics and possibility – not magic.  

Here are some of the subgenres of science fiction (also known as “sci-fi”):

55. Apocalyptic sci-fi

Apocalyptic science fiction takes place after an apocalyptic event and focuses on how the remaining humans survive. It is similar to post-apocalyptic horror but focuses more on the reality of life and less on scare tactics and monsters. 

Examples : Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. 

56. Colonization sci-fi

Colonization science fiction books focus on colonizing a new planet or settlement after the Earth has been destroyed.

Examples : Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson and The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

57. Hard sci-fi

Hard science fiction books place a heavy emphasis on math, physics, chemistry, engineering, or other sciences. They have realistic science based on currently proven facts. 

Examples : The Martian by Andy Weir and The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

58. Military sci-fi

Military science fiction books focus on a battle between two groups. This may be on Earth, in space, or between multiple planets. 

Examples : Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

59. Mind uploading sci-fi

Mind uploading sci-fi focused on the concept that your consciousness can be uploaded or downloaded into another body or computer. This could be through alien intervention, complete brain transplants, or technology. 

Examples : Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan and Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.

60. Parallel world sci-fi

Parallel world science fiction deals with alternate realities. Characters pass through multiple worlds very similar to their own with interesting consequences. 

Examples : Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and the Firebird series by Claudia Gray.

61. Soft sci-fi

While hard sci-fi focuses on the sciences and the “how” behind sci-fi plots, soft sci-fi focuses more on the human element. Soft sci-fi books examine politics, social constructs, and relationships amid a sci-fi backdrop. 

Examples : 1984 by George Orwell and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

62. Space opera

Space operas are action books that are set in outer space. They often are long-running epic series. 

Examples : The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert and The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

63. Space western 

Take a western book and put it in outer space, and you have a space western. Thinks lawless frontiers, morally-gray characters, and lots of shoot-outs.  

Examples : The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and Persephone Station by Stina Leicht.

64. Steampunk

Steampunk books are a mix of the past and future. They feature steam-powered technology and 19th- and 20th-century aesthetics combined with futuristic elements.  

Examples : Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Soulless by Gail Carriger.

65. Short story 

Next on our list of book genres is short stories. Short stories are stories that are anywhere from 1,000 – 15,000 words in length, and they can be a mix of any topics on our list of genres.

Examples : The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and How to Become a Writer by Lorrie Moore.

66. Thriller

Another popular genre on our list of book genres is thrilled. A thriller often shares many attributes of mystery novels, but not all mysteries are thrillers, and not all thrillers are mysteries. So what differentiates these two items on our list of book genres? Thrillers are meant to evoke anxiety and tension and are first and foremost about the protagonist trying to save or protect themselves. Some subgenres of thriller fiction include:

67. Action thriller

Action thrillers include fast plot lines, violence, high-speed chases, and a life-changing journey for the protagonist. 

Examples : The Summer House by James Patterson and The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci.

68. Conspiracy thriller

In conspiracy thrillers, the protagonist is up against a powerful organization after discovering a conspiracy that puts their life at risk. 

Examples : Deception Point by Dan Brown and Private Moscow by James Patterson.

69. Disaster thriller

Disaster thrillers are written about natural or man-made disasters, such as volcanoes, tsunamis, or nuclear attacks.

Examples : One Second After by William R. Forstchen and Ashfall by Mike Mullin.

70. Espionage thriller

Espionage thrillers feature spies or secret agents as the protagonists. They usually need to infiltrate a foreign government or crime ring. 

Examples : Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre and the Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. 

71. Forensic thriller

Forensic thrillers rely on finding evidence such as DNA or fingerprints to catch the perpetrator. 

Examples : The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver and the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. 

72. Historical thriller

Historical thrillers are thrillers set in a specific time period. They often include real historical events and conspiracies. 

Examples : The Devils of Cardona by Matthew Carr and The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

73. Legal thriller

Legal thrillers center around court and legal dilemmas. The protagonist can be a lawyer or someone wrongfully accused.

Examples : The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly and A Time to Kill by John Grisham.

74. Paranormal thriller

Paranormal thrillers add paranormal or supernatural elements to a typical thriller plot.

Examples : The Outsider by Stephen King and Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak.

75. Psychological thriller

Psychological thrillers are one of the most popular types of thriller on our list of book genres. These thrillers put the protagonist’s sanity at risk along with their physical safety. Because the protagonists are unstable, they are often unreliable narrators. 

Examples : The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

76. Religious thriller

Religious thrillers are written about religious secrets or stolen religious artifacts. There may be dangerous cults involved. 

Examples : The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

77. Western

A classic American genre on our list of book genres is Western fiction. These books take place in the American Old West and feature plots with cattle ranches, bounty hunters, and shootouts. 

Examples : Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

78. Women’s fiction

Women’s fiction can cover a variety of topics on our list of book genres and refers to any book written about the female experience or the role of women in society.

Examples : The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

79. Young adult

Like women’s fiction, young adult fiction can cover most topics on our list of book genres, but they are written for and about young adults, typically between ages 13-17. These books often cover coming-of-age story arcs and the trials of adolescence.   

Examples : A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

80. Art & photography

While all the topics leading up to this point were fiction, the rest of the items on our list of book genres are nonfiction topics. These are factual books about real life. 

The first nonfiction topic on our list of book genres is art and photography. Art and photography books can be written about art, or be more visual books that showcase art and photography. These make great coffee table books.  

Examples : Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton and Art: The Definitive Visual Guide by Andrew Graham Dixon.

81. Autobiography/Memoir

Memoirs and autobiographies are written by the author about their own life. They focus on the author’s life trials and accomplishments. 

Examples : Becoming by Michelle Obama and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

82. Biography

Biographies are books written about an important or interesting person, usually after they have died, and often cover the entire span of the person’s life. 

Examples : A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar and Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi.

An essay is a short piece of writing where the author gives their thoughts (and often an argument) on a specific topic. They may be reflections and observations of the author, or a political statement. 

Examples : Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin and Once More to the Lake by E. B. White.

84. Food & drink

Next on our list of book genres are cookbooks! Cookbooks can be simple collections of recipes, or contain information about the chef’s life or home country. They can cover food, beverages, or both. 

Examples : Half-Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard and The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.

85. History

Historical nonfiction is a well-researched, factual accounting of a historical event or time period. 

Examples : The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant and The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow.

86. How-To/Guides

How-to books teach the reader how to get better at a craft, skill, or hobby, or give them an overview of all the information they need to know on a specific topic. 

Examples : The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing by Zachary Petit and How to Read Tarot by Jessica Wiggan. 

87. Humanities & social sciences

The next item on our list of book genres covers a number of topics. Books in the humanities study human society and relationships – and can include anthropology, sociology, politics, and many other subjects.

Examples : Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. 

Humor books are written with one goal in mind – to make the reader laugh! They are often satirical essays or memoirs. 

Examples : Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.

89. Parenting 

Parenting books teach parents how to raise their children – including how to prepare for their arrival!

Examples : Raising Good Humans by Hunter Clarke-Fields and The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel.

90. Philosophy

Philosophy nonfiction explores ethics, moral dilemmas, and the purpose of life on earth.  

Examples : Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

91. Religion & spirituality 

Books on religion and spirituality cover a range of topics, from actual religious texts like the Bible and the Quran to books on spiritual philosophies, mindfulness, and energy healing.

Examples : The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

92. Science & technology 

Science and technology books are written about the sciences – either to help readers have a greater understanding of them or to teach about the evolution of technology. 

Examples : The Joy of Science by Jim Al-Khalili and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

93. Self-help

One of the most popular nonfiction genres on our list of book genres is self-help. Self-help books cover topics from finances to organization to mental health and help readers improve themselves in some way. 

Examples : Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

Undoubtedly one of the most fun nonfiction topics on our list of genres is travel. Travel books can be travel guides to various countries or memoirs of the author’s own travels. 

Examples : Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Down Under by Bill Bryson.

95. True crime

The last item on our master list of book genres is true crime. True crime books describe actual crimes from start to finish.

Examples : In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.

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Last updated on Apr 21, 2021

Nonfiction: 24 Genres and Types of Fact-Based Books

Many readers think of nonfiction as a genre in itself. But take a look through your local bookstore and you’ll see dozens of sections devoted to fact-based books, while fiction titles are sorted into just a few broadly defined genres like ‘Fantasy/Sci-Fi’ and ‘General Fiction’!

To give nonfiction books the recognition they deserve and help authors choose the right category for their work, here’s a list of the 24 most common genres of nonfiction along with their identifying features. 

Expository nonfiction

Expository nonfiction aims to inform the reader about its subject —  providing an explanation for it, be it a historical event, natural phenomenon, fashion trend, or anything else. 

1. History 

History books are not to be mistaken with textbooks. Rather than cherry-picking details to be memorized about a person, an event, or an era, these nonfiction titles are more like cross-sections in time. They provide readers with as much of the social and political contexts of events as possible with the use of rich primary and secondary sources, so as to better understand their causes and their legacies. 

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond Tapping into geological, agricultural, and biological evidence, Diamond challenges perception of genetic differences and contextualizes the history of human development using various external, environmental conditions.

Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944 by Anna Reid The Eastern Front of WWII is not as well-discussed as the Western one, though it's just as important. To balance the viewpoints out a little, Anna Reid explores life in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) during one of the longest, costliest, and deadliest military blockades in history. 

Types of Nonfiction | History Books

2. Philosophy 

This is where the big questions get asked. While ‘philosophy’ conjures up the image of impenetrable books written by Nietzche and Confucius for the enjoyment of beard-stroking academics, that isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of this genre! Contemporary authors have taken care to make their writings more accessible without sacrificing depth of analysis.

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn An introduction to life’s grandest topics (ethics, freedom, self — all that jazz) as told through the prism of history’s greatest philosophers. Suitable for curious readers who don’t know their Aristotles from their Kants.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson The author smuggles in a history of the great philosopher king by presenting it as a self-help guide. By showing his readers how Marcus Aurelius’s beliefs can apply to modern life, Robertson appeals to readers who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a copy of Meditations from the library.

A Grammar of the Multitude by Paolo Virno See how philosophy has evolved in today’s international world through Paolo Virno's perspective. He advocates for the understanding of people as "multitudes" (courtesy of Dutch Enlightenment thinker, Spinoza). It's recommended that readers go into this book with some previous knowledge on classic philosophical paradigms. 



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3. Religion and Spirituality

Books about religion and spirituality can take many forms. Some are theory-based, some are written from personal experience, and some are structured like a self-help book, with the end goal of helping readers find their spiritual home. Oftentimes, each book focuses on a particular belief system — there are even Christian publishers who are solely dedicated to publishing books about their religion. 

📚 Examples 

Waking the Buddha by Clark Strand An interesting cross between a historical research and a personal spiritual exploration, this book details the rise and continued influence of the Soka Gakkai, an international Buddhist organization that works towards egalitarianism and social justice.

The Power of Now by Ekchert Tolle This self-help-style book brings readers closer to spiritual enlightenment by acknowledging how our mind focuses on the past and the future rather than the present. It's the first step on the path toward mindful connection with the joys of the moment. 

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Science books, or  “Science & Maths” books — as Amazon would categorize them — can get quite technical. Most of the time, they’re reporting on scientists’ academic research. And so, science books tend to be well-organized and follow academic conventions like referencing and indexing . But while they sound dry, the intriguing questions that they address can always be presented in ways that keep readers coming. In any case, readers can always choose to scan over the complex mathematical proofs, or authors can put all that into the appendix.  

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking See the concept of time through the logical and characteristically witty eyes of this world-renowned scientist. It doesn’t make for the breeziest read, but it will give readers a very in-depth understanding of this arbitrary but ever-present concept. 

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith Neil deGrasse Tyson takes readers on a tour of the universe's transformations through the years, introducing concepts of moons’ orbits and expanding stars along they way. All of this is a sturdy stepping stone to the complex realm of cosmology. 

Types of Nonfiction | Science Books

5. Popular Science 

Is this type of nonfiction just academic science books but repackaged for laypeople? Why yes indeed. Popular science books take complex research and processes and get rid of most of the jargon, so that your average Joe can pick them up and learn something new about our universe. They’re almost like Vox videos, but that you read instead of watch. 

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson Bill Bryson isn’t a scientist or an anthropologist, but he’s brought together knowledge from various disciplines to create this digestible, comprehensive exploration of the universe and the human race. 

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson Tyson’s expertise as a science communicator shines through with this armchair-expert version of astrophysics, which he claims can be read on noisy buses and trains without much headache. 

6. Politics and Social Sciences 

With the ongoing social and political tumult across the world, there has been a rise in both the reading and writing of this kind of book. Some political and social science books are based more on anecdotal evidence, others are on par with academic papers in terms of depth of research. Either way, they usually pick out a specific feature or structure in society to analyze with a critical eye. 

Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson Discover why some nations are stuck in poverty traps with these economists. Using empirical data, they compellingly demonstrate the importance of inclusive institutions in fostering growth. Their writing continues to inspire development theories and strategies worldwide.  

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge It started with a blog post which the author wrote to express her frustration toward the domination of white people in discussions about racism. It became a tour-de-force work on the experiences and realities of deep-rooted racial discrimination in society. 

A book of essays is a collection of themed pieces of writing written by an author, or multiple authors, who often has some sort of authority on or personal experience with the subject matter. While they sound incredibly serious, they don’t require as much research as the types of nonfiction we’ve mentioned above. They’re often quite introspective and personal, like op-ed pieces or magazine articles. In fact, many essay books are made up of articles that were previously published in newspapers or magazines.

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin A collection of articles published in Harper’s Magazine , Partisan Review , and The New Leader , in which Baldwin discusses representations of Black people in the media, as well as his experiences as a Black man in Europe. 

The Good Immigrant , edited by Nikesh Shukla 21 writers of color come together to talk about their lives in the UK, and how they're sometimes made to question their sense of belonging despite being born and raised there. 

Types of Nonfiction | Essay Collections

8. Self-Help 

Out of all the non-fiction genres out there, this is probably the most popular one. The name itself is explanatory: a self-help book provides you with some guidance and actions through which you can solve personal problems. Self-help books can be research-based, or they can be reflective — like an extended blog post. Note, though, that while the latter kind may read somewhat like a memoir in style, if you choose to write a self-help book , you must explicitly advise the reader. 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell What makes a person successful? Gladwell argues that it’s hardly just luck — even prodigies aren’t guaranteed recognition. Pulling from various examples and sociological studies, he identifies several factors, beyond genetics, that anyone can optimize to boost their chances. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson Sometimes what you need is for someone to give it to you straight. That’s when conversational, hilarious, blog-style books like this become handy. Mark Manson’s self-help book is all about accepting what you’re given and not allowing expectations ruin your happiness. 

9. Business and Economics 

While this a broad category that may include volumes with a journalistic flavor, business books tend to be guides to entrepreneurship and management. It’s a medium for those who've had experience in the workplace or the market to share their tips and tricks (and also a good tool for authors to bag guest-speaking events). In this sense, this kind of book is like self-help, but specifically for entrepreneurs and business managers. 

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz Master the art of financial management through real-life case studies and a four-principle system with which can be applied to any business. It's straightfoward and has enough examples to demonstrate its success. 

The Big Short by Michael Lewis Lewis makes the mess of the financial crisis of 2008 that little bit easier to wrap your head around in this darkly humorous book. He follows the stories of ordinary people who fell victim to the American financial sector, revealing the precariousness of this ever-expanding industry. 

10. Health and Wellness

There's no shortage of health and wellness books out there — what do we care about if not a long and healthy life, right? These books cover many different topics, from diets to sleeping habits, from stress management to dealing with anxiety. Most are written by researchers and doctors, who have the technical knowhow to offer sound insight and advice. 

Lifespan by David Sinclair Drawing from his knowledge as a geneticist, Sinclair gives readers the scoop on the ever-popular topic of aging. He assures us that for a long, healthy, and happy life, we should enjoy our chocolate and wine (in moderation, of course).

This Is Your Brain on Food by Uma Naidoo Food provides more than just nutrients for sustenance and growth — what you eat also impacts your mood and mental health. Dr. Uma Naidoo is a psychiatrist, nutritionist, and a professional chef, so you can trust she knows what she’s talking about. 

Types of Nonfiction | Health and Wellness Books

11. Crafts and Hobbies 

Once upon a time, before Google became the omniscient engine that held the answer to all our questions, people relied on craft books to teach them how to pick up a new hobby. Origami, crochet, calligraphy, gardening — you name it, there’s a book about it. Nowadays, books like these appeal to the audience not solely because of the skills but also the author. Authors are usually someone with an online presence and authority when it comes to the craft, and their book's tone and interior design usually reflect a bit of their personality. 

By Hand by Nicole Miyuki Santo Beautifully designed with plenty of samples with which readers could practice their own calligraphy, Santo’s guide is a meditative exercise book. It’s also a great avenue for her followers on Instagram to come closer to her art by practicing it themselves.  

Alterknit Stitch by Andrea Rangel For knitters who have already nailed down the basics and want to experiment with new patterns, this is the book to get. It demonstrates ways to have fun with this cozy hobby by defying the conventions of knitting. 

12. Travel Guides

Again, the internet seems to have taken over from books when it comes to helping travelers and tourists discover new places. Still, travel guides are a lot more comprehensive, keeping everything you might need to know about budgeting, languages, places to visit (or avoid), and much more, in one place. Ebooks are the perfect format for these guides — they’re easy for travelers to refer to on the go, and they’re not as costly to update to include the latest information. 

The Lonely Planet series This collection has been growing since the 1970s, and it now holds plenty of books with various focuses. There are guides solely on helpful phrases in foreign languages, and then there are regional, country-level, and city guides, all made with contributions from locals. 

The Time Out series While also written by locals, these books focus only on cities (mainly in Europe and the US). As with the magazine of the same name, the content of the books is all about local haunts and hidden shops that tourists may not be aware of. 

13. Cookbooks

Cookbooks make up another type of nonfiction that’s evermore popular, and not just because we’re cooking more and more at home nowadays. They’re increasingly beautiful, and to write a cookbook is to have a vision in mind about what kind of mouth-watering photos (or illustrations!) it would offer alongside easy-to-follow instructions. They also tend to have cohesive themes, i.e. desserts for vegans, at-home experimental fine-dining, or worldly culinary adventures from your kitchen.

In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen Grandmothers from eight different Eastern African countries show readers both hearth and heart through the familial stories associated with their food. Beyond the loving taste of traditional homecooked dishes, readers will also get to learn about life in the villages of Africa. 

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi Israeli-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi is the owner of several branches of restaurants, bakeries and food shops in London, but you can get a taste of his cuisine with this collection of 130 Middle Eastern recipes that can be made within 30 minutes. Who says simple cooking couldn't be adventurous?

Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living For by Ella Risbridger A slightly different take on cookbooks, Midnight Chicken is a manifesto for an joyful life, built on homemade food. Her recipes are simple and homely, just like the illustrations of her book, so that anyone can make them even after a long and tiring day.

Nonfiction Genres | Cookbooks

14. Parenting and Family 

Parenting is anything but easy, and since Supernanny is not always on air, a little help from experts and those who've had experience dealing with children is the next best thing. From understanding with the psychology of young minds to finding the best environments and ways to nurture them, parenting books with sound academic backing provide useful insights and advice to help readers become better guardians and caregivers. 

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham Based on the latest research on brain development and clinical tests, Markham emphasizes the importance of the emotional connection between parent and child in development. When parents understand their own emotions, they can raise their children with empathy, set healthy boundaries, and communicate with clarity. 

Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau Beyond the home, there's a complex world which parents don’t have control of. Annette Lareau sociologically examines the social and political contexts in which children would be exposed to (if they live in America) and how childrearing can be affected by it.

15. Children’s Nonfiction 

 Explaining the world to children, even on a limited scale, can be incredibly difficult, as it’s hard to keep their attention. Luckily, a bit of assistance from an illustrator can do wonders. As a result, many children’s nonfiction books are in the style of picture books and chapter books. Topics covered include short historical accounts and biographies, or stories that explain scientific phenomena and how they are studied. For a more detailed breakdown of children’s nonfiction, check out editor Melissa Stewart’s system of classification .

The Little Leaders series by Vashti Harrison Read about exceptional men and women of various ethnic backgrounds throughout history, and enjoy their adorable portraits in this series. There’s hardly a better way to help children embrace differences than through nonfiction books about diversity such as this.

There Are Bugs Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup Open young minds up to the natural world through this colorful elementary guide to the insect world. Answering questions about where insects live or how they find and store food with engaging drawings, it’s a great educational tool for parents and teachers. 

16. Educational Guides 

Many educational guides as the YA version of nonfiction books. These are targeted at final-year high-schoolers and young college students, with the aim providing them some guidance as they reach that strange age where independence is desperately craved but also a bit scary. Unlike popular YA fiction , this is still definitely a niche, yet, as rising study-with-me YouTubers would show you, there is potential for growth. Other than that, there are also learning guides for older audiences as well. 

The Uni-Verse by Jack Edwards Sharing his experience in preparing for and being at university, Edwards hopes to ensure readers that they, too, could emerge from univeristy happy and successful. From how to take lecture notes to how to get along with your roommates, this guide is full of helpful advice for anyone who’s feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt Education doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom, as Tom Vanderbilt shows us in this call-to-action for life-long learning. As testament to the value of learning as an adult, he tells the stories behind his journey with five skills: playing chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. 

Types of Nonfiction | Educational Guides

17. Textbooks 

We’ve all had our fair share of poring over these books: each comprehensively puts together information about a specific subject (and sometimes even the subject of teaching itself). The content of textbooks also include questions that stimulate learners, encouraging them to reflect on certain matters. As they are meant to accompany a curriculum, textbooks have to be written with a good overarching grasp of the subject and solid understanding of pedagogy. Given all this work, textbook writers deserve more appreciation than they get!

Oxford’s Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press This popular series offers a short and concise introduction to just about every topic out there. Breaking big concepts and lesson outcomes into bitesize definitions, they make great overviews or quick refreshers before an exam.

Letting Go of Literary Whiteness by Carlin Borsheim-Black and Sophia Tatiana Sarigianides This textbook is made not for students but for teachers. Based on experiences and examples from their own classrooms, the authors supply advice, and real-life scenarios in which they apply, on how to be anti-racist in schools. 

18. Language Books 

Language books can be general guides as to how to learn any language, or they can go into the nitty-gritty of a particular language. Some of them aren’t even about learning to use and communicate in a language; instead, they take a dive into the origins and inner workings of these complex systems. Regardless, because of the complexity of the subject, these nonfiction titles require expert knowledge from the part of the author. 

Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher Linguist Guy Deutscher (a perfect name for the profession) makes the case for the connection between language and culture in this volume, opening up a whole new perspective on language learning beyond the practicalities. 

How to Speak Any Language Fluently by Alex Rawlings This book does what it says on the tin: it gives you the tools to pick up any language you want. Rawling's advice is as fun as it is helpful, so everyone can learn their language of choice with extra enjoyment! 

Many of them are memoirs of comedians and talk show hosts, others are written by celebrated essayists and journalists. The celebrity profiles of authors in the genre explains humorous nonfiction's popularity. While form may vary, most of these titles are penned as social commentaries that candidly talk about issues that are often overlooked.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell A witty exploration of the legacies of presidential assassinations in America, which notes how they’ve been used for political and commercial purposes that ridiculously undermine their historical importance. It’s history and politics, but with a healthy dose of sharp humor. 

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh Bill Gates says it’s “funny as hell” , and that’s all the advertising it needs. Taking the unconventional form of meme-worthy comic strips accompanied by texts to provide context, Brosh’s memoir is a candid reflection on both hilarious and bleak moments she's been through. 

Nonfiction Genres | Humor

20. Arts Books

The arts section is a fun mix — to name a few, there are photography collections, art catalogues, books on theory and critique, and volumes that teach artistic endeavors. With nuggets of wisdom from industry experts and often great attention paid to design details these books really are like pieces of artwork themselves. 

The World of Art series by Thames & Hudson This collection offers a variety of art styles and their hallmark pieces from across time and space. You could pick any one of them and feast your eyes on not only the art itself, but the wonderful interior design — courtesy of Adam Hay .

Women Artists by Flavia Frigeri In a now seminal feminist art history text written in the 70s, Linda Nochlin raised a provocative question: “Why have there been no great women artists?” Well, this addition to the Art Essentials series answers the question by showcasing 50 women artists throughout history, proving that the problem lies not in the lack of female artists, but in the failure to give them the recognition they deserve. 

Narrative nonfiction 

While narrative nonfiction books are still factual, they're written in the style of a story. As such a book's chapters have a flow — a story structure , if you will — rather than being systematically organized by topic. 

21. Memoirs and autobiographies

Memoirs and autobiographies are books about the writer’s life. The former covers a shorter time period, focusing on a particularly noteworthy moment, such as experience in a certain industry, or an unconventional childhood. It’s thus often written by younger authors. The latter follows a longer timeline, going through a whole life, like a personal history. As such, while anyone, with or without a public presence, can write a memoir , autobiographies are always penned by well-known figures. Autobiographies are also often used by politicians and activists to share their journey and views.

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym Prodigal violinist Min Kym was the youngest pupil at the Purcell School of Music, though her life wasn't a bed of roses. While struggling with the theft of a 17th-century Stradivarius in her possession (which made national headlines in the UK in 2010), she came to realize with incredible clarity that she had lost much more on the journey to meet the expectations of her teachers, her parents, and the world. And all of it was beautifully recorded in this memoir. 

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa Masaji Ishikawa's life in Japan is just like any ordinary person’s life, but to have gotten there, he’d undergone the challenges of escaping the totalitarian state of North Korea. His experience with this totalitarian state and his subsequent escape makes for a memoir readers can't put down. 

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela The man at the heart of one of the biggest, most publicised international movement against racial discrimination and for political freedom shares his journey from being an activist to his 27 years in prison in this autobiography. 

22. Biographies

Take note, biographies are different from auto biographies in a very crucial way, even though both are basically life stories. While autobiographies are written by authors about themselves , biographies are written by an author about somebody else . If the subject is alive, their consent should be acquired for ethical purposes (though this isn’t always done). A biography could also be penned long after its subject’s death, presented as a history book that’s focused solely on the life and circumstances of one person. Many of these have gone on to inspire award-winning movies and musicals.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow Ron Chernow is truly the master of biographies, and any of his titles would be a great example of his brilliance as a writer and researcher. This Pulitzer Prize winner on America’s founding father is recommended for its nuanced portrait of a legendary figure. Chernow took four years to research and an additional two to complete the manuscript — it was no easy project!

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar Perhaps more famous for its movie adaptation starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, Sylvia Nasar’s biography provides a window into the turbulent life of schizophrenic mathematician and economist John Nash. While it challenged ethical practices by not consulting with Nash even though he was alive, the book was still very well-received. 

23. Travel Literature 

Some call them travelogues, others call them travel memoirs — either way, travel literature books straddle the line between informing on the many cultures of the world and self-reflection. Books that fall into this genre are usually quite poetic and insightful (unlike practical travel guides). They’re all about personal journeys that are meditative and eye-opening, and can be about a specific place or a series of places. 

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bike by Dervla Murphy In 1963, Dervla Murphy kept a daily diary of her trek “across frozen Europe and through Persia and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and into India.” After the trip, she published the diary and invited readers to join her on this remarkable feat, whether from their couch or as they start their own journey.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson Focusing on the place and not the journey, Bill Bryson documents his “farewell tour” of the UK as he prepared to return to America after almost two decades of living across the pond. Mixing cultural insights with a healthy dose of humor, he wraps his travel notes in social commentary to both satirize and praise the idiosyncrasies of the British. 

24. Journalism

Follow investigative journalists as they uncover ugly truths. Other than doing justice by in-depth and sometimes even dangerous investigations, this type of nonfiction also enthralls readers with the twists and turns of real events and details of actual underground operations, conspiracies, and court dramas, to name a few. 

All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Journalists Woodward and Bernstein's reports in The Washington Post won them a Pulitzer Prize and led to President Nixon’s impeachment. In this book, they recollect the process behind their famous exposé on Watergate.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow On his trail to investigate Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults, Farrow discovered a systematic mechanism which favors offenders with big pockets and silences the voice of victims. His book is thus an exposé on the journalism industry itself.

Voilà! Those are 24 of the most popular types of nonfiction along with some typical exmaples. And keep in mind that as more and more titles get released, the genres will expand beyond this list. It goes to show how expansive this side of the publishing world can be. If you’re writing , publishing, or marketing a nonfiction book , hopefully this list has clarified the purpose, styles, and formats of each genre so that you can find the perfect fit for your own work.

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The 20 Most Anticipated Books of 2024, According to 'Marie Claire' Editors

From long-awaited follow-ups by award-winning authors to engrossing debut thrillers and memoirs.

composite of the most anticipated book releases of 2024

Reading enthusiasts know there's nothing like finally getting your hands on (or receiving a Libby notification for) a book you've been waiting months (or years) to read and then diving in head-first. Lucky for us lit-obsessed editors at Marie Claire , 2024's publishing slate is stacked with buzzy releases, from the returns of several beloved female authors to glossy new tell-alls. For the impatient, many of our picks for our year's best reads have already hit the shelves (including a debut novel by a member of the MC team!). From chilling thrillers and steamy romances , to engrossing memoirs and self-help inspiration , read on for our most anticipated books of 2024.

"I'm such a sucker for twisty thrillers with complex female protagonists—as you'll learn later down this list, when I ran out of new books in the genre, I wrote one myself—and Stacy Willingham is among the very best of them. This book has it all: a college campus rocked by a sudden tragedy; female friendship tested to the brink; and twists you won't see coming. Willingham gets better with each book, and this is my favorite yet." - Jenny Hollander, Digital Director

"This new release from Kaveh Akbar is about many things—addiction, family, the immigrant experience, and sobriety—but above all, it’s a beautiful meditation on how one man finds meaning. Guided by the spectres of his ancestors, newly sober Iranian-American Cyrus Shams spends the novel exploring his family’s past in order to make sense of his own life." - Gabrielle Ulubay, Beauty Writer

"I’m a die-hard Sarah J. Maas fan and have been counting down the days till this release since that cliff hanger in the last book. I’m not the only one either— BookTok can’t stop talking about this series and it absolutely deserves all of the hype. While I don’t want to spoil the magic that is this series, I will say that is has everything you could want in a fantasy romance book: complex characters, heart-pounding romance, lavish world building, and so many twists and turns. I’m expecting all of this and more in the latest installment." - Brooke Knappenberger, Associate Commerce Editor

"Chung's 2022 short story collection Cursed Bunny shook me to my core with its exploration of female autonomy among societal expectations, told through fantastical and horrifying metaphors, often involving bodily functions. (I wasn't the only one awed by the collection, judging by its inclusion among the 2023 National Book Award finalists for Translated Literature.) The South Korean author publishes her follow-up set of stories this year, also translated by Anton Hur, which promises to include "a variety of possible fates for humanity" that will definitely keep me up at night. - Quinci LeGardye, Contributing Culture Editor

"Is it weird to call your own book a "most anticipated"? Sure, but I'm really proud of this one, so bear with me. This thriller—my first novel!—follows Charlotte "Charlie" Colbert, a magazine editor who witnessed a massacre at her elite graduate school a decade earlier. When one of Charlie's former classmates decides to make a film about what really happened that night, Charlie is forced to confront the "black holes" in her memory and decide, once and for all, how far she'll go to hide the truth. Called "an undeniable page-turner" by Booklist and "a twisty, thrilling story" by Town and Country, I'm hoping this one keeps you up late." - JH

"I'm admittedly a bit picky when it comes to romance, but Tia Williams is a go-to author for epic love stories that give me all the feels, from Jenna and Eic's forbidden love in The Perfect Find , to Eva and Shane's fateful second chance in Seven Days in June . Her next novel takes tells a tale of magical realism in Harlem, NYC, where Ricki Wilde flees to escape her famous Atlanta family and start her own flower shop. Soon, she meets a handsome stranger named Ezra “Breeze” Walker, and their instant connection leads her down an extraordinary path. - QL

"If a female journalist is writing a book, I'm adding to cart and pre-ordering. Savannah Guthrie anchors The Today Show on NBC as one-half of its first female co-anchor team, and this book takes us inside her mind on the day she was named co-anchor (and, if you'll remember, not Ann Curry) in July 2012 alongside Matt Lauer; he later left amidst controversy in 2017. She writes about the times life didn't work out the way she wished it would (and how that's okay) and how her faith has sustained her through the highs and lows of life." - Rachel Burchfield, Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

"This book is dedicated to 'the 80 percent of women who don't believe they're enough, the 75 percent of female executives who deal with imposter syndrome, and the 91 percent of girls and women who don't love their bodies.' Those statistics are staggering—and sad. After laying it all out there in her memoir, Believe IT , the cofounder of IT Cosmetics and the first ever female CEO of a L'Oréal brand, is back in her second book to talk about all of us and our worthiness journeys, while sprinkling in some of her story as well. At the crux of the book is how to stop doubting yourself out of your own destiny and how to use self-worth as a tool to success in every way: internally, externally, emotionally, socially, relationally, and financially." - RB

"When Xochitl Gonzalez published her New York Times bestselling novel Olga Dies Dreaming, she charmed millions of readers and took the literary world by storm. Now, she’s written a new novel called Anita De Monte Laughs Last, which is told through the perspectives of two distinctive, unforgettable characters. The first, Anita de Monte, is a rising star in the New York City art world in 1985, but she is found dead before she can achieve lasting success. The second, Raquel, discovers Anita’s tale while in college, and finds that the deceased artist’s story is eerily, uncannily similar to her own." - GU

"Morgan Parker got her start in publishing poetry, including the gorgeous collections Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, but I've been eagerly awaiting more prose from the author since her debut YA novel Who Put This Song On? made me feel so seen as a former lonely Black girl growing up in white suburbia. Her first nonfiction book, a memoir-in-essays, examines her own lifelong loneliness due to America's cultural treatment of Black people throughout history. If you know me IRL, expect every conversation to start with 'You should check out this book' for the rest of the year." - QL

"As the Prince and Princess of Wales debate on where to send their eldest, Prince George, to school ( boarding school or not? That's the question du jour), Princess Diana's only brother, Earl Charles Spencer, is releasing a memoir about his traumatic boarding school experience. Sent away at age eight, he writes about the 'culture of cruelty' at the school he attended in his youth and provides 'important insights into an antiquated boarding system.' He also reportedly speaks to his schoolboy contemporaries as well as references his own letters and diaries from the time period to reflect on 'the hopelessness and abandonment he felt.' Through this book he reclaims his childhood, and we all get to bear witness to the journey." - RB

"This book appears to be a memoir, with a twist. Part personal journey, part exploration into mental health, it cites psychologists, psychiatrists, scientists, and thought leaders on how to understand why we think and feel the way we do, and why this may be holding us back. I have long been compelled by the First Lady of Canada, and I'm interested to see how she navigates talking about her divorce from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which is still ongoing, in the book's pages. (They separated last year after 18 years of marriage.)" - RB

"Seven years after her moving debut Goodbye, Vitamin , Khong returns with a multigenerational saga about a Chinese American family, as its members try to define their own lives against the forces of fate and history. In 1999, broke media intern Lily Chen meets and falls in love with Matthew, her boss's wealthy nephew. Later, in 2011, 15-year-old Nick Chen (raised by Lily as a single mother in Washington state) sets out to find his biological father. The Washington Post compared the novel to Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow  , so I'm expecting an immersive story I won't be able to put down." - QL

"As someone who spends entirely too much time on X/Twitter, I can't wait to get my hands on Russell's history of Black visual culture, from early 1900s photographs to today's memes. In her latest book, the author of Glitch Feminism argues that Black images have always been central to shaping American culture, from the photographs of Emmett Till, to the televised broadcasts of civil rights protests, to pop culture moments like Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,' to citizen-recorded images of police brutality." - QL

"For their latest release, Emezi, the genre-spanning author of works including You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty  and  The Death of Vivek Oji , takes on the thriller genre as a group of people are sucked into the underbelly of a Nigerian city. When Kalu attends an exclusive sex party hosted by his best friend—fresh off a break-up from his long-time girlfriend—he makes a decision that plunges their lives into chaos, as they desperately try to escape a looming threat." - QL

"I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this mystery thriller, and now I'm recommending it to every Bachelor fan I know. The novel follows Julia Walden, an advanced synthetic robot designed to compete on the latest season of The Proposal and win the heart of lead Josh LaSala. It flashes back and forth between her time on the reality show and 15 months later, when Julia and Josh are married and raising a newborn among a hostile community in small-town Indiana. When Josh goes missing, and Julia becomes the prime suspect, the Synth takes the investigation into her own hands." - QL

"Emily Giffin's books come out in a cadence of about once every two years, and I have this (annoying) habit of buying the new book the day it comes out, tearing through it at lightning speed, and then having to wait 730 days for my next hit. I've loved Giffin's work for decades, from her debut Something Borrowed , which was later made into a film starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson, to her last book, Meant to Be , which (spoiler alert) is a fictionalization of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette's love story. Next up is The Summer Pact , which centers around "a group of friends [who, in the wake of a tragedy] make a pact that will cause them to reunite a decade later and embark upon a life-changing adventure together." If Giffin is writing it, I'm going to be reading it." - RB

"I'm a sucker for literary novels about women being young and messy in NYC, and this already-acclaimed novel gives major Luster vibes. (Raven Lelani even blurbed it.) The unnamed narrator is a wealthy Palestinian woman struggling to reconcile her ideal life with her lived reality; her inheritance and her homeland are both unreachable, as she makes a living teaching middle school and participating in a pyramid scheme reselling Birkin bags. As she slowly becomes obsessed with purity and cleanliness in an attempt to regain control, the woman "spectacularly" unravels." - QL

"I loved Obuobi's debut On Rotation (a #ReadWithMC pick !), and I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of her sophomore novel, Between Friends and Lovers . I devoured this book, which stars the surefooted Dr. Josephine Boateng—known to her countless Instagram followers as Dr. Jojo—and Mal, an overnight sensation thanks to his first novel (he isn't exactly sure how to deal with that yet). Mal might just be the person who can finally break down Jo's walls...but to do that, she'll need to let go of her longtime best friend and long-hidden crush, Ezra. If you delight in complex, charming love stories, this one's for you." - JH

" Rip Tide is many things: a deep-dive into the perils of trying to escape your past; a poignant depiction of sisterhood and the ways it evolves; and the tantalizing idea of coming home again. When a body washes ashore in the beach town of their childhood, sisters Kimmy and Erin, both of whom recently returned to Rocky Cape, must wrestle with the ghosts they believed they'd left behind at the shore: both the ones they're eager to revisit, and the ones they can't face." - JH

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books genre fiction

The New York Times Best Sellers - February 25, 2024

Authoritatively ranked lists of books sold in the united states, sorted by format and genre..

This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only.

  • Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

THE WOMEN by Kristin Hannah

New this week

by Kristin Hannah

In 1965, a nursing student follows her brother to serve during the Vietnam War and returns to a divided America.

  • Apple Books
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Books-A-Million

THE TEACHER by Freida McFadden


by Freida McFadden

A math teacher at Caseham High suspects there is more going on behind a scandal involving a teacher and a student.


2 weeks on the list


by Sarah J. Maas

The third book in the Crescent City series. Bryce wants to return home while Hunt is trapped in Asteri's dungeons.

BRIDE by Ali Hazelwood

by Ali Hazelwood

Issues of trust arise when an alliance is made between a Vampyre named Misery Lark and a Were named Lowe Moreland.

FOURTH WING by Rebecca Yarros

41 weeks on the list


by Rebecca Yarros

Violet Sorrengail is urged by the commanding general, who also is her mother, to become a candidate for the elite dragon riders.

  • Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction


115 weeks on the list


by David Grann

The story of a murder spree in 1920s Oklahoma that targeted Osage Indians, whose lands contained oil.

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel van der Kolk

180 weeks on the list


by Bessel van der Kolk

How trauma affects the body and mind, and innovative treatments for recovery.

THE WAGER by David Grann

42 weeks on the list

The survivors of a shipwrecked British vessel on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain have different accounts of events.

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown

131 weeks on the list


by Daniel James Brown

The story of the American rowers who pursued gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games; the basis of the film.

MEDGAR & MYRLIE by Joy-Ann Reid


by Joy-Ann Reid

The MSNBC host details how the wife of the civil rights leader Medgar Evers carried forward their legacy after his assassination in 1963.

  • Hardcover Fiction

40 weeks on the list

IRON FLAME by Rebecca Yarros

14 weeks on the list

The second book in the Empyrean series. Violet Sorrengail’s next round of training might require her to betray the man she loves.


25 weeks on the list


by James McBride

Secrets held by the residents of a dilapidated neighborhood come to life when a skeleton is found at the bottom of a well.


  • Hardcover Nonfiction

OUTLIVE by Peter Attia with Bill Gifford

46 weeks on the list

by Peter Attia with Bill Gifford

A look at recent scientific research on aging and longevity.

OATH AND HONOR by Liz Cheney

10 weeks on the list


by Liz Cheney

The former congresswoman from Wyoming recounts how she helped lead the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6. Attack on the United States Capitol.

THE WOMAN IN ME by Britney Spears

16 weeks on the list


by Britney Spears

The Grammy Award-winning pop star details her personal and professional experiences, including the years she spent under a conservatorship overseen by her father.

  • Paperback Trade Fiction

THE HOUSEMAID by Freida McFadden


Troubles surface when a woman looking to make a fresh start takes a job in the home of the Winchesters.

ICEBREAKER by Hannah Grace

52 weeks on the list

by Hannah Grace

Anastasia might need the help of the captain of a college hockey team to get on the Olympic figure skating team.


35 weeks on the list


by Ana Huang

The first book in the Twisted series. Secrets emerge when Ava explores things with her brother’s best friend.

  • Paperback Nonfiction

277 weeks on the list

154 weeks on the list

The story of a murder spree in 1920s Oklahoma that targeted Osage Indians, whose lands contained oil. The fledgling F.B.I. intervened, ineffectively.

153 weeks on the list

CASTE by Isabel Wilkerson

by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist examines aspects of caste systems across civilizations and reveals a rigid hierarchy in America today.


34 weeks on the list


by Dolly Alderton

The British journalist shares stories and observations; the basis of the TV series.

  • Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous

ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear

220 weeks on the list


by James Clear

THE CREATIVE ACT by Rick Rubin with Neil Strauss

56 weeks on the list


by Rick Rubin with Neil Strauss

HOW TO KNOW A PERSON by David Brooks


by David Brooks



by A'ja Wilson


320 weeks on the list


by Mark Manson

  • Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover

HEROES by Alan Gratz

by Alan Gratz

The friends Frank and Stanley give a vivid account of the Pearl Harbor attack.

WONKA by Sibéal Pounder

8 weeks on the list

by Sibéal Pounder

The movie novelization and prequel to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," written by Roald Dahl.

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

430 weeks on the list

by R.J. Palacio

A boy with a facial deformity starts school.

REFUGEE by Alan Gratz

249 weeks on the list

Three children in three different conflicts look for safe haven.

THE SUN AND THE STAR by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro


by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro

The demigods Will and Nico embark on a dangerous journey to the Underworld to rescue an old friend.

  • Children’s Picture Books

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE by Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry

27 weeks on the list


by Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck delivers Valentine's Day cards to all his farm animal friends.


55 weeks on the list


by Eric Carle

A ravenous insect returns with its appetite intact.


7 weeks on the list


by Suzy Brumm

The love between parents and their children.

HOW TO CATCH A LOVEOSAURUS by Alice Walstead. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

12 weeks on the list


by Alice Walstead. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

The Catch Club Kids attempt to catch a dinosaur that wants to spread love and kindness.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

24 weeks on the list


by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The Crayons show the colors of love.

  • Children’s Series


711 weeks on the list


by Rick Riordan

A boy battles mythological monsters.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney

778 weeks on the list


written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney

The travails and challenges of adolescence.

HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling

777 weeks on the list


by J.K. Rowling

A wizard hones his conjuring skills in the service of fighting evil.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

314 weeks on the list


by Suzanne Collins

In a dystopia, a girl fights for survival on live TV.


124 weeks on the list


by Holly Jackson

Pippa Fitz-Amobi solves murderous crimes.

  • Young Adult Hardcover

DIVINE RIVALS by Rebecca Ross


by Rebecca Ross

Two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection.

RUTHLESS VOWS by Rebecca Ross


In the sequel to "Divine Rivals," Roman and Iris will risk their hearts and futures to change the tides of the war.

POWERLESS by Lauren Roberts

by Lauren Roberts

Forbidden love is in the air when Paedyn, an Ordinary, and Kai, an Elite, become romantically involved.

MURTAGH by Christopher Paolini

by Christopher Paolini

Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, must find and outwit a mysterious witch.

NIGHTBANE by Alex Aster

by Alex Aster

In this sequel to "Lightlark," Isla must chose between her two powerful lovers.

Weekly Best Sellers Lists

Monthly best sellers lists.

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From Bond to Argylle: how spy fiction has evolved

Spy thrillers are more popular than ever, both on screen and in literature. These are the six books that have shaped the genre.

Best spy thriller book covers

Spies are all around us. Not in the literal sense⁠ (although if they were very good at their jobs, how would we know?) but in books and the wider pop culture landscape.

The last 12 months have been chock-a-block with secret agent fiction bestsellers, such as Matthew Richardson’s The Scarlet Papers , Terry Hayes’ long-awaited return with The Year of the Locust and Tess Gerritsen’s recently-released The Spy Coast .

And while the world awaits the appointment of the next James Bond, there have been plenty of secret agent shenanigans on our screens. Netflix’s most-streamed show of 2023 was the conspiracy thriller The Night Agent ; Amazon Prime Video’s current hit is the Mr. & Mrs. Smith remake, and out in cinemas now is director Matthew Vaughn’s meta-narrative Argylle , which sees a spy novelist get caught up in real-life intrigue.

The origins of the spy thriller

The espionage genre has a long history. It originated in America in 1812 with The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper, most famous for The Last of the Mohicans . And while there were some further dabbles in the 19th Century, the spy novel really took off in the next 100 years, with British writers such as John Buchan, Graham Greene , Ian Fleming and John le Carré leading the way.

These books reflected real-life anxieties

These books reflected real-life anxieties during and around both World Wars and, particularly, the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s many predicted the death of the espionage thriller. How could it go on if the main “baddie” was no more? But they have remained popular – and, arguably, more vital than ever.

The central struggle of the spy thriller is timeless: a lone hero works against a huge, corrupt, seemingly unbeatable organisation. Wariness over unaccountable government forces and faceless institutions is nothing new, which might explain why the best books in the field – even those written a century ago – still feel modern and contemporary.

While the overarching themes of espionage stories are mostly unchanged, however, the genre has shifted significantly over the years. The following are six titles that demonstrate the evolution of the spy novel.

Spy thrillers that define the genre

The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)

Eric Ambler was one of the greatest spy writers. Le Carré even called him “the source of all we draw on”. Someone with such an influential bibliography is not forgotten, but he is arguably underappreciated. Yet his work is ripe for a rediscovery, as his overarching themes of dirty dealings between big businesses and bad governments feel so fresh.

The Mask of Dimitrios is one of his best, starting with English crime novelist Charles Latimer travelling in Istanbul and hearing of the titular master criminal’s body being fished out of the Bosphorus. Intrigued, Charles starts looking into Dimitrios’ life to get ideas for his next book and stumbles into a dangerous conspiracy.      

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Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)

No list of espionage fiction would be complete without mentioning “Bond, James Bond,” who first appeared in this 1953 debut by former spook Ian Fleming.

Agent 007 has become one of the world’s most influential literary characters, but be honest now: have you read the books? Because if someone says “James Bond”, odds are you’ll think of Monty Norman’s theme song, Sean Connery suavely ordering his martini “shaken, not stirred” or Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in those skimpy blue swimming trunks. You probably don’t think of the Bond of Fleming’s novels . But they are fascinating, and worth a read, as Fleming’s original is colder and more callous than the movie Bond – certainly Roger Moore’s⁠ – but far more vulnerable.       

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré (1974)

Le Carré may have name-checked Ambler as the greatest spy novelist, but most would say it’s le Carré himself. And with good reason. The former MI5 and MI6 agent⁠, who wrote his debut while working undercover at Britain’s West German embassy⁠, brought a sophisticated, morally ambiguous tone to the genre.

His George Smiley is the anti-Bond: short, bald, and overweight, with a self-effacing manner that means he is constantly underestimated. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , Smiley is brought back into service to find a mole who may be at the highest levels of British intelligence.

Slow Horses by Mick Herron (2010)

Many dissertations have probably been written on how the British spy novel over the last century reflects the decline of the UK’s status on the world stage. This is most evident in Mick Herron’s Slow Horses , where washed-out MI5 agents are sent to Slough House – a crumbling, clapped-out office near the Barbican.

Historically, spy fiction was written by men, about men and for men. That is changing.

The protagonist, Jackson Lamb, is an unhygienic, unbearably rude man. But underneath his blusters, he is deeply loyal to his team. Lamb is wonderfully played in the current Apple TV+ adaptation by Gary Oldman, who also portrayed George Smiley on film.       

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (2019)

You may have noticed something about this list and, historically, spy fiction in general: it is mainly written by men, about men and for men. That has changed over the last 10 years or so, no doubt boosted by female-led TV hits such as Homeland and Killing Eve . Recent spy tales written by women include Kate Atkinson’s Transcriptions , Alma Katsu’s Red Widow and Charlotte Philby’s Edith and Kim .

But my standout here is Wilkinson’s complex and nuanced debut, which counts former president Barack Obama among its fans (he describes it as “a whole lot more than just a spy thriller”). It’s set in the 1980s and revolves around a young Black FBI officer who is sent to Burkina Faso to foment a coup.

Argylle by Elly Conway (2024)

And back to Argylle . Whether you’ve seen the film or not, the book is tons of fun. The movie’s conceit is that writer Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) has to go on the run because the plots of her novels predict the future. You don’t have that meta-backstory in the novel – which is a fast-paced romp that follows the titular Argylle, a sort of James Bond-cum-Jason Bourne super-spy, as he is sent to stop a Russian villain from getting his hands on old Nazi treasure.

The rumours about who actually wrote Argylle came thick and fast on the internet⁠ – Taylor Swift was one theory⁠ – but the revelation that “Conway” was in fact none other than Terry Hayes and the psychological thriller author Tammy Cohen explains why it is so entertaining.        

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​​10 Books for First-Time Literary Fiction Readers

Posted: May 5, 2023 | Last updated: July 4, 2023

<p>When it comes to book genres, there are few as polarizing as the world of literary fiction. Even many of the most avid readers of practically anything else — fantasy, romance, horror, you name it — steer clear of it. But what if literary fiction is simply misunderstood? And which books can show the genre’s beginners the best of what it has to offer?</p><p>Literary fiction, also commonly known as lit fic, is abstractly defined as writing that’s character-driven as opposed to plot-driven. Its wide array of prose and plethora of serious topics can make it intimidating for even the most enthusiastic readers. Lit fic has also historically gained a bad rap thanks to many wayward English classes where students didn’t love the books they were assigned in class and were turned off from the genre for a while.</p><p>Crystal Smith Paul, author of the novel <a href="">Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?</a> (out now), believes one of the most important things to understand about lit fic is that it may not feel like an escape in the same way that some other genres do. However, it can be incredibly enlightening and introspective, especially for people going through hard times or trying to empathize with others who are. “While the story may be captivating, the themes in a piece of literary fiction may be difficult, uncomfortable, or unpleasant to read,” she says. “Literary fiction is generally more serious, as it focuses on the human condition versus an external action prompt or preset structure.” In lit fic, authors are trying to showcase the multifaceted nature of human behavior rather than simply how people react to stimuli. “Showing how the characters feel about their actions is often more important than the action itself,” she notes.</p><p>For Paterson Joseph, the writer behind <a href="">The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho</a>, this is what makes literary fiction the most intimate of storytelling methods. “Thoughts and emotions inside the heads and hearts of your protagonists are laid bare to you,” he explains about why he loves the genre and thinks more people should give it a try. “Even if they are unclear to the character, you have a God-like view of them that even they themselves cannot hope to have. Literary fiction is sensual in the extreme as we feel, taste, smell, hear, and see everything in vivid detail.”</p><p>For Jenny Fran Davis, author of <a href="">Dykette</a> (out on May 16), her real love affair with literary fiction began with Jane Eyre and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when she was young. Her advice for newbies? Find books in the genre that help you think more about what you already love. “Reading should be joyful; it should excite, challenge, thrill, and comfort you. It can, and should, be pleasurable,” she says. “Pay attention to the type of books or authors that make you feel something big, and follow that feeling. What types of characters move you? How much plot do you need to feel invested in a story? What types of worlds are most intriguing to you?”</p><p>Do you feel like you’re ready to start your journey into literary fiction? Below, authors and readers alike give their suggestions for the best books for the genre’s beginners.</p><p>—</p>

When it comes to book genres, there are few as polarizing as the world of literary fiction. Even many of the most avid readers of practically anything else — fantasy, romance, horror, you name it — steer clear of it. But what if literary fiction is simply misunderstood? And which books can show the genre’s beginners the best of what it has to offer?

Literary fiction, also commonly known as lit fic, is abstractly defined as writing that’s character-driven as opposed to plot-driven. Its wide array of prose and plethora of serious topics can make it intimidating for even the most enthusiastic readers. Lit fic has also historically gained a bad rap thanks to many wayward English classes where students didn’t love the books they were assigned in class and were turned off from the genre for a while.

Crystal Smith Paul, author of the novel Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? (out now), believes one of the most important things to understand about lit fic is that it may not feel like an escape in the same way that some other genres do. However, it can be incredibly enlightening and introspective, especially for people going through hard times or trying to empathize with others who are. “While the story may be captivating, the themes in a piece of literary fiction may be difficult, uncomfortable, or unpleasant to read,” she says. “Literary fiction is generally more serious, as it focuses on the human condition versus an external action prompt or preset structure.” In lit fic, authors are trying to showcase the multifaceted nature of human behavior rather than simply how people react to stimuli. “Showing how the characters feel about their actions is often more important than the action itself,” she notes.

For Paterson Joseph, the writer behind The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho , this is what makes literary fiction the most intimate of storytelling methods. “Thoughts and emotions inside the heads and hearts of your protagonists are laid bare to you,” he explains about why he loves the genre and thinks more people should give it a try. “Even if they are unclear to the character, you have a God-like view of them that even they themselves cannot hope to have. Literary fiction is sensual in the extreme as we feel, taste, smell, hear, and see everything in vivid detail.”

For Jenny Fran Davis, author of Dykette (out on May 16), her real love affair with literary fiction began with Jane Eyre and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when she was young. Her advice for newbies? Find books in the genre that help you think more about what you already love. “Reading should be joyful; it should excite, challenge, thrill, and comfort you. It can, and should, be pleasurable,” she says. “Pay attention to the type of books or authors that make you feel something big, and follow that feeling. What types of characters move you? How much plot do you need to feel invested in a story? What types of worlds are most intriguing to you?”

Do you feel like you’re ready to start your journey into literary fiction? Below, authors and readers alike give their suggestions for the best books for the genre’s beginners.

<p><strong>$16.73</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>Davis encourages new lit fic readers to check out Lahiri’s debut novel, <em>The Namesake</em>, which originally appeared in a truncated form in <em>The New Yorker</em> and in a collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories. The book unpacks the complexities of the immigrant experience as a family moves from India to the U.S.; there are clashes around topics like assimilation and generational trauma, both of which are still enormously relevant years after publication.</p>

1) The Namesake

Davis encourages new lit fic readers to check out Lahiri’s debut novel, The Namesake , which originally appeared in a truncated form in The New Yorker and in a collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories. The book unpacks the complexities of the immigrant experience as a family moves from India to the U.S.; there are clashes around topics like assimilation and generational trauma, both of which are still enormously relevant years after publication.

<p><strong>$13.99</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>One of Davis’ other favorite recommendations for people new to the genre is Anne Tyler’s novel <em>Digging to America</em>. After two very different families have a chance meeting at an airport when they’re both adopting infant daughters from Korea, the Donaldsons and the Yazdans become intertwined year after year, even as they set off on very divergent paths.</p>

2) Digging to America: A Novel

One of Davis’ other favorite recommendations for people new to the genre is Anne Tyler’s novel Digging to America . After two very different families have a chance meeting at an airport when they’re both adopting infant daughters from Korea, the Donaldsons and the Yazdans become intertwined year after year, even as they set off on very divergent paths.

<p><strong>$13.49</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>The gripping, award-winning novel <em>The Long Song</em> is written as a memoir by an elderly Jamaican woman who’s living in early 19th century Jamaica while the country makes the difficult transition from slavery to freedom. It was also Andrea Levy’s final novel, as she passed away almost a decade later from breast cancer.</p>

3) The Long Song: A Novel

The gripping, award-winning novel The Long Song is written as a memoir by an elderly Jamaican woman who’s living in early 19th century Jamaica while the country makes the difficult transition from slavery to freedom. It was also Andrea Levy’s final novel, as she passed away almost a decade later from breast cancer.

<p><strong>$15.81</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p><a href="">Jean Kyoung Frazier’s</a> debut 2020 novella centers a pregnant 18-year-old in Los Angeles working as a delivery driver and becoming increasingly obsessed with a regular customer at the pizza shop where she’s employed. Coming in at just over 200 pages, it’s also an easier read from a length perspective compared to other books in the genre.</p>

4) Pizza Girl

Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut 2020 novella centers a pregnant 18-year-old in Los Angeles working as a delivery driver and becoming increasingly obsessed with a regular customer at the pizza shop where she’s employed. Coming in at just over 200 pages, it’s also an easier read from a length perspective compared to other books in the genre.

<p><strong>$15.81</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>Susan Choi’s award-winning novel <em>My Education</em> unfurls the story of Regina, a young graduate student who falls into a complicated series of relationships involving two married professors at her university and another graduate student. Choi’s work can often feel unexpected and poignant, making it an interesting gateway for new lit fic readers who want something a little different.</p>

5) My Education

Susan Choi’s award-winning novel My Education unfurls the story of Regina, a young graduate student who falls into a complicated series of relationships involving two married professors at her university and another graduate student. Choi’s work can often feel unexpected and poignant, making it an interesting gateway for new lit fic readers who want something a little different.

<p><strong>$15.81</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>There’s a reason why <em>The Great Gatsby</em> is considered one of the greatest pieces of American literature and is beloved by even the most reluctant English students: Its story remains glamorous and universal at the same time. “This book goes so far into the life of [Jay] Gatsby [that] it’s easy to forget his characterization is through the lens of another character,” Smith Paul explains. If you haven’t read the novel since high school, it might be worth another look!</p>

6) The Great Gatsby

There’s a reason why The Great Gatsby is considered one of the greatest pieces of American literature and is beloved by even the most reluctant English students: Its story remains glamorous and universal at the same time. “This book goes so far into the life of [Jay] Gatsby [that] it’s easy to forget his characterization is through the lens of another character,” Smith Paul explains. If you haven’t read the novel since high school, it might be worth another look!

<p><strong>$15.76</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>Quan Barry’s darkly funny book <em>We Ride Upon Sticks</em> straddles the worlds of both literary and slightly more plot-driven genre fiction. It’s a novel filled with magical realism that tells the tale of the 1989 Danvers High School women’s field hockey team. The town of Danvers, Massachusetts, was the site of the 1692 Salem witch trials, and after the young teens on the team partake in some witchy ceremonies themselves, a number of strange phenomena start popping up all around them …</p>

7) We Ride Upon Sticks

Quan Barry’s darkly funny book We Ride Upon Sticks straddles the worlds of both literary and slightly more plot-driven genre fiction. It’s a novel filled with magical realism that tells the tale of the 1989 Danvers High School women’s field hockey team. The town of Danvers, Massachusetts, was the site of the 1692 Salem witch trials, and after the young teens on the team partake in some witchy ceremonies themselves, a number of strange phenomena start popping up all around them …

<p><strong>$27.90</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>Julie Sheetz, an avid literary fiction reader, adds that Salman Rushdie’s latest book is one of her favorites. “Like much of Rushdie’s work, there are elements of the fantastical and deep references that benefit those schooled in world religions and cultures,” she explains. “But at its most basic level, it’s a celebration of stories and the power of language to both transport us to other places and times while telling us something fundamental about ourselves.”</p>

8) Victory City

Julie Sheetz, an avid literary fiction reader, adds that Salman Rushdie’s latest book is one of her favorites. “Like much of Rushdie’s work, there are elements of the fantastical and deep references that benefit those schooled in world religions and cultures,” she explains. “But at its most basic level, it’s a celebration of stories and the power of language to both transport us to other places and times while telling us something fundamental about ourselves.”

<p><strong>$26.04</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p><p>Khaled Hosseini’s <em>The Kite Runner</em>, recommended by Smith Paul, is one of the most popular books of the last 20 years, and it’s easy to see why: It unravels the emotional tale of a young boy named Amir and his family against the backdrop of numerous tumultuous events in Afghanistan spanning many years.</p>

9) The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner , recommended by Smith Paul, is one of the most popular books of the last 20 years, and it’s easy to see why: It unravels the emotional tale of a young boy named Amir and his family against the backdrop of numerous tumultuous events in Afghanistan spanning many years.

<p><strong>$26.04</strong></p><p><a href="">Shop Now</a></p>

10) What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

The Ramirez women — sisters Nina and Jessica as well as mother Dolores — haven’t been the same since middle sister Ruthy vanished without a trace in her teens years earlier. The book takes place largely in 2008 around the struggles of the Great Recession, and it’s really set in motion when the family is shocked to see a woman on a reality TV show whom they believe might be the adult Ruthy. The discovery leads them to rethink their shared past and what they need to do to finally find out where Ruthy went.

Lily Herman is a New York-based writer and editor. You can find her on Instagram .

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Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout

Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout

Avoid burnout with Slow Productivity , a book that looks to teach employees everywhere that the key to doing your best isn't in working to your limit, but slowing down and changing your expectations. If work overwhelms you and you're eager for a change, you might want to check out this upcoming read.

Release Date: March 5

3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool

3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool

If you're a fan of music history, 3 Shades of Blue dives into the creation of the jazz album Kind of Blue , made by three of the genre's greats–Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans, along with many, many others involved in the project. Get an inside look into how great music is made, and explore the moment jazz reached its popularity peak.

The Heart and the Chip: Our Bright Future with Robots

The Heart and the Chip: Our Bright Future with Robots

Daniela Rus, a computer scientist, answers all the questions you may have about the future of robotics and how it's intertwined with the future of humanity. This optimistic look at our technological future is great for anyone who loves deep dives into science.

Charlie Hustle: The Rise and Fall of Pete Rose, and the Last Glory Days of Baseball

Charlie Hustle: The Rise and Fall of Pete Rose, and the Last Glory Days of Baseball

Baseball fans will love this biography of Pete Rose, who became one of the sport's great players and managers before becoming embroiled in a major betting scandal in the 1980s. O'Brien's book details Rose's career and his downfall from interviews with Rose, his associates, and archival records.

Release Date: March 26

Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing

Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing

Want to improve your work-life balance and learn how to use your time wisely? Google's Executive Productivity Advisor (yes, that's a real title) provides actionable steps and advice for how to become the best version of you both at work and in your personal life

Release Date: April 2

Somehow: Thoughts on Love

Somehow: Thoughts on Love

Somehow is a meditative look at how love impacts our lives. With anecdotes from her own life, Lamott offers a warming dive into how we all share affection, and provides lessons for anyone who needs to appreciate the love in their life more.

Release Date: April 9

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  1. 22 Different Types of Books (Genres and Non-Fiction Options)

    books genre fiction

  2. Different Types or Genres of Books With Examples

    books genre fiction

  3. The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction

    books genre fiction

  4. The Most Popular Fiction Genres: Definitions and Examples

    books genre fiction

  5. Fiction Book Cover Design: The Definitive Guide

    books genre fiction

  6. Book Genres

    books genre fiction


  1. Historical Fiction 101: Hawaii

  2. Fantasy Genre

  3. Belated Non Fiction Book Haul

  4. Jodi book recommendation

  5. Top 10 Non Fiction Books!

  6. 5 Great novels summaries


  1. 30 Book Genres (List of fiction and nonfiction categories to know)

    30 Book Genres Explained With that in mind, enjoy this list of 30 types of book genres with descriptions and an example (or two) for each. It's not an exhaustive list; there are upwards of 40 genres — more if you count sub-genres and mixed genres. But it's enough to help you identify your book's genre.

  2. Fiction Books

    Fiction is the telling of stories which are not real. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes.

  3. The Ultimate List of Book Genres: 35 Popular Genres

    How many book genres are there? Though we're only covering 35 of the most popular in this post, there are around 50 genres in total — the exact number depends on who you ask. If you take subgenres into account, over on Reedsy Discovery we have 107 different categories, while Amazon has over 16,000! That can be a lot to take in.

  4. 37 Book Genres: Most Popular Categories

    2. Historical Fiction. This genre is a fictional plot that takes place in a real historical era. True events that happened like wars or the Great Depression are brought to life by fictional ...

  5. Fiction Genres: Every Genre & Sub-Genre (2022)

    Fiction Genres: Every Genre & Sub-Genre (2022) by Dalton Drake Fiction genres are much debated and revised, but they're crucial to providing logical order to the storytelling arts. We took it upon ourselves to compile the most comprehensive guide known to humankind.

  6. 8 Popular Book Genres: A Guide to Popular Literary Genres

    Literary fiction typically describes the kinds of books that are assigned in high school and college English classes, that are character driven and describe some aspect of the human condition. Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners tend to come from the literary fiction genre. Genre fiction has a more mainstream, populist appeal.

  7. All the Types of Book Genres, Explained

    The genre that makes your heart all warm and fuzzy focuses on the love story of the main protagonists. This world of fiction is extremely wide-reaching in and of itself, as it has a variety of sub-genres including: contemporary romance, historical, paranormal, and the steamier erotica. If you're in need of any suggestions, we've got a list of ...

  8. What Are the Different Genres of Literature? A Guide to 14 Literary

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 23, 2021 • 4 min read Fiction refers to a story that comes from a writer's imagination, as opposed to one based strictly on fact or a true story. In the literary world, a work of fiction can refer to a short story, novella, and novel, which is the longest form of literary prose.

  9. The Most Popular Fiction Genres: Definitions and Examples

    The Most Popular Fiction Genres: Definitions and Examples by Yen Cabag | 10 comments Each reader has individual preferences for the types of books they enjoy most. Some gravitate toward historical romances, while others can't get enough of suspenseful thrillers.

  10. A Reader's Guide To The Different Book Genres

    Classics A book or author that's stood the test of time and has continued to inspire meaningful discussion and thought across generations. As gruesome as it sounds, I argue that the author needs to be dead for a book of theirs to be considered a classic.

  11. Book Genres: 85 Genres & Subgenres of Fiction & Nonfiction

    Book Genres: 85 Genres & Subgenres of Fiction & Nonfiction book genre list | book genres Last updated on: October 16, 2022 Contents Action and Adventure Fiction Classic Fiction Contemporary Fiction Dystopian Fiction Fantasy Fiction Graphic Novel Historical Fiction Horror Fiction LGBTQ+ Fiction Literary Fiction Mystery Fiction Romance Fiction

  12. Book Genres: 79+ Fiction and Nonfiction Genre Guides

    List of fiction book genres: Fantasy Adventure Romance Contemporary Dystopian Mystery Horror Thriller Paranormal Historical fiction Science Fiction Children's List of nonfiction book genres: Memoir Cookbook Art Self-help Personal Development Motivational Health History Travel Guide / How-to Families & Relationships Humor

  13. Genre fiction

    (June 2023) Literature Oral literature Folklore Fable Fairy tale Folk play Folksong Heroic epic Legend Myth Proverb Oration Performance Audiobook Spoken word Saying Major written forms Drama Closet drama Poetry Lyric Narrative Prose Nonsense Verse Ergodic Electronic Long prose fiction Anthology Serial Novel / romance

  14. An Overview of Fiction Genres: 3 Types of Novels

    An Overview of Fiction Genres: 3 Types of Novels Written by MasterClass Last updated: Nov 17, 2021 • 6 min read With various types of novel genres, there's something for every reader. Read on to learn about the different kinds of literary fiction, genre fiction, and mainstream fiction.

  15. 20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books

    LitFic Meets Fantasy Awayland by Ramona Ausubel Ramona Ausubel's fantastical stories always push the bounds of genre, containing elements of myth and fabulism. From a cyclops searching for love through online dating to a woman turning into mist, Awayland contains stories with touches of magic that will capture your attention from the first page.

  16. The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction

    Readers ultimately decide if the experiment has worked by buying these books. The most important part of genre fiction, though, is that it fulfils our human need for good, old-fashioned storytelling. We sometimes need stories we can rely on to blunt the harsh realities of life. Source for image The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction. Romance.

  17. Book Genres: Discover 36+ Fiction and Nonfiction Categories

    Fiction Genres. Fiction writing has become very popular over the years. In fact, the first half of 2021 saw a 25% increase in fiction books sold in comparison to Q1 and Q2 of 2020. Fiction is a genre of literature where the author creates imaginary characters, worlds, and events.

  18. Genre Fiction Books

    Genre Fiction Books Discover new books on Goodreads Meet your next favorite book Join Goodreads Shelves > Genre Fiction > Genre Fiction Books Showing 1-50 of 46,543 The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1) by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads Author) (shelved 90 times as genre-fiction) avg rating 4.14 — 2,022,200 ratings — published 1985

  19. 144 Genres and Subgenres for Fiction Writing

    144 Genres and Subgenres for Fiction Writing Tonya Thompson Published on February 9, 2019 PST Last Modified on February 4, 2021 PST From fantasy to western—and everything in between—we cover the major genres and subgenres available to readers today.

  20. Guide to 9 Types of Fiction: Genre Definitions and Examples

    Fiction is a type of writing that comes from an author's own imagination and tells a story. Authors publish fiction across a range of mediums, and fiction stories can be any length—like novels and novellas or short stories. There are many types of fiction within the genre of fiction itself, but all types of fiction include basic elements:

  21. Master List of Book Genres: 95 Fiction & Nonfiction Genres

    1. Action/Adventure fiction 2. Children's fiction 3. Classic fiction 4. Contemporary fiction 5. Fantasy 6. Graphic novel 7. Historical fiction 8. Horror 9. LGBTQ+ 10. Literary fiction 11. Mystery 12.

  22. Literary Fiction Books

    Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage in the early 1960s. The term is principally used to distinguish "serious fiction" which is a work that claims to hold literary merit, in comparison from genre fiction and popular fiction. The name literature is sometimes used for this genre, although it can also refer to a broader ...

  23. Nonfiction: 24 Genres and Types of Fact-Based Books

    But take a look through your local bookstore and you'll see dozens of sections devoted to fact-based books, while fiction titles are sorted into just a few broadly defined genres like 'Fantasy/Sci-Fi' and 'General Fiction'!

  24. The 20 Most Anticipated Books of 2024, as Chosen by 'Marie Claire

    Culture; Books; The 20 Most Anticipated Books of 2024, According to 'Marie Claire' Editors. From long-awaited follow-ups by award-winning authors to engrossing debut thrillers and memoirs.

  25. Best Sellers

    The New York Times Best Sellers are up-to-date and authoritative lists of the most popular books in the United States, based on sales in the past week, including fiction, non-fiction, paperbacks ...

  26. How the spy thriller has evolved

    You may have noticed something about this list and, historically, spy fiction in general: it is mainly written by men, about men and for men. That has changed over the last 10 years or so, no doubt boosted by female-led TV hits such as Homeland and Killing Eve.Recent spy tales written by women include Kate Atkinson's Transcriptions, Alma Katsu's Red Widow and Charlotte Philby's Edith and ...

  27. From the multiverse to a steampunk London

    A staple of the genre is given a new twist in Vangie's Ghosts, while High Vaultage takes readers on a journey into an alternative Victorian-era capital. ... Science fiction books. Add to myFT.

  28. 10 Books for First-Time Literary Fiction Readers

    $15.76. Shop Now. Quan Barry's darkly funny book We Ride Upon Sticks straddles the worlds of both literary and slightly more plot-driven genre fiction. It's a novel filled with magical realism ...

  29. 25 Best New Non-Fiction Books to Read in 2024

    See the best non-fiction books coming out in 2024. These new non-fiction reads can teach you something new, and maybe even change your life. ... Non-fiction is the perfect book genre to open your ...