Whether you’re an avid reader or even a writer yourself, choosing between book genres can be a difficult feat. Each genre appeals to a different personality type, a different mood, a different purpose. Are you reading for pleasure or for information? Do you want to laugh or cry? Are you in the mood for a plucky underdog or an antihero with questionable morals? All of these factors and more can determine what genre you want to read at any particular moment.
Obviously you can love more than one genre. You can have your primary and secondary favorites, things you reach for immediately in the bookstore or library. Then there are the backups, genres you like but don’t love. There are probably even genres you’ve never read before. No matter what your interests are, there are multiple genres to pick content from. Here is a breakdown of some of our top rated genres.
The big 5
1. Historical Fiction
Historical fiction is exactly what it sounds like: fictional narratives set in the past with a focus on historical accuracy. Some popular examples are Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
2. Mystery / Thriller
While there are slight differences between the mystery and thriller genres, there is also a fair amount of overlap. Mysteries center on a character who is searching for the truth of an event, usually a crime of some sort. While traditional mysteries generally don’t see the protagonist in true danger until the climax, thrillers place the protagonist in danger from the very beginning. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are notable examples of the thriller/mystery genre.
3. Literary Fiction
Literary fiction is a bit of a broader genre. While the other genres on this list tend to be driven by plot, literary fiction is a character driven genre. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise is a famous work in the genre.
4. Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Science fiction and fantasy are the genres that are furthest from our daily reality. Sci-fi focuses on the impact of real or imagined science on a society, while fantasy involves magical or supernatural elements that are not scientifically based. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones are two immensely popular fantasy series’, while Philip K. Dick’s Blade Runner and Frank Herbert’s Dune are notable sci-fi novels.
The romance genre has two main elements: a central love story, and an optimistic ending. Often, the main character embarks on an adventure that requires them to demonstrate chivalry or other good behavior in order to be rewarded with romantic love. Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook and Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice are seminal novels in the romance genre.
Make your pick from the shelf
No matter what you’re in the mood for, there are multiple genres and sub-genres to choose from. Want to read sci-fi that deals with political repression? Try dystopian fiction. Interested in mysteries that focus on crime with a non-detective protagonist? Perhaps noir fiction novels are right up your alley. Every genre has something fascinating to offer.
Next time you head to the library or bookstore, take a look around the genre sections. Your favorite book genre could be waiting for you to pick it up. Exploring different genres allows you to discover new authors and perspectives you may not have considered before. So this winter, think about expanding your reading list with content from your top genres and more.