The world of books is deep and diverse, with a new literary adventure waiting around every corner. Whether you enjoy gripping mysteries, thrilling romances, in-depth histories, soaring fantasies or entertaining memoirs, there are more books out there than you could ever hope to finish in a lifetime. Whether you’re interested in finding out more about your favorite genre or branching out into a new genre, we can help you with lists, reviews and more.
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Fiction encompasses a fantastic array of different styles, ranging from historical fiction to epic fantasy. Some fiction genres are highly experimental, playing with alternative methods of storytelling and deliberately refusing to adhere to expectations, but other genres just seek to give their readers a new take on a familiar tale.
The young adult genre is a broad term for books aimed at older teenagers and young adults. These books often explore themes that are relevant to adolescents, such as the struggle for identity or experiencing the pains and joys of love for the first time. Young adult fiction often borrows from other genres for its conventions and settings.
Fantasy fiction invites its readers to imagine that magic is real. Although these books are often cloaked in the trappings of the medieval era, with damsels in distress and dragon-slaying heroes, modern-day fantasy has also become popular. Fantasy novels are often epic in scope, dropping the fate of the world on their protagonists’ shoulders.
In literary fiction, authors carefully craft novels that focus more on theme and the art of writing than on deep characterization or elaborate plots. These books use layered prose, heavy symbolism and experimental structure to explore deep themes. The pacing in literary fiction is often quite slow, forcing the reader to carefully peel back the hidden layers of the work.
Middle grade fiction features works written for children between the ages of 8 and 12. Stories in middle-grade fiction often feature multiple characters, subplots and expansive world building. The themes in these books tend to be broader and less controversial than those in older fiction, but they often address subjects relevant to children in this age group, such as bullying.
Thrillers focus on elaborate plots and gripping action to keep the reader turning the pages. Some thrillers focus on an all-encompassing mystery, dropping clues throughout the narrative to keep the reader guessing. Other suspense books place their resourceful heroes in mortal peril, constantly navigating a sea of danger as they grapple with determined adversaries. There are many subgenres of thrillers, including political thrillers, legal thrillers, military thrillers and more.
Romance novels focus on two characters falling in love and the obstacles they must confront to stay together. Although these novels may include subplots, the romance is always the central element of the story. These books are set in a variety of time periods and usually feature a happy ending. Some subgenres are heavily policed by their publishers and follow well-established formulas to construct their stories.
Children’s books are designed to entertain children while helping them learn colors, words, numbers and more. These books include colorful artwork, simple plotlines and memorable characters. Children’s books for the very young feature pictures and few words, and older children can enjoy books with simple sentences.
Science fiction is set in the alternate worlds of tomorrow. This genre covers a wide variety of subgenres, from sweeping space operas to character-driven stories exploring the impact of speculative technologies. Some stories research the science behind their alternate worlds thoroughly and sometimes become science fact. Other books play fast and loose with the science underpinning their alternate worlds, using the science fiction setting as a fantastic backdrop on which to spin an elaborate tale.
Books in this genre focus on the stories of women learning more about themselves and their relationships with others. Although there are no clear rules regarding this genre, most books include emotional reflection and an optimistic ending. Authors of women’s fiction often seek to build a complex and nuanced character portrait of their subjects.
History comes to life in historical fiction, allowing readers to experience historical events through the lens of a fictional character. Authors of historical fiction spend hours carefully researching the historical periods they write about, lending authenticity to their works. Another popular branch of historical fiction is alternative history, which explores what might have happened if famous historical events had turned out differently.
Nonfiction books tell the stories of reality, from critical historical events to self-help books. These books are often the products of meticulous research or years of training. Although there is room for individual style and creativity in the world of nonfiction literature, faithfulness to the real world is required.
Memoirs give readers an intimate look into someone’s life, such as an actor or musician. Unlike biographies, memoirs typically have a narrow focus, centering on individual stories from the author’s life instead of their entire life. Memoirs have been popular since ancient times; Julius Caesar, for example, penned several memoirs about significant battles from his life.
Narrative nonfiction is an emerging genre that pairs facts with creative writing. Although the information presented in narrative works is accurate, the author uses storytelling techniques from the world of fiction to create a page-turning narrative.
Self-help books offer practical advice on a variety of subjects, from relationships to home organization. These books aim to help readers better themselves and solve personal problems. Authors of self-help books range from celebrities to notable experts.
The books in this genre seek to elevate readers to a new understanding of a particular belief system. Many books in this genre focus on the world’s major religions. Other authors take a closer look at human spirituality outside of religion, offering uplifting stories to inspire readers.
Business and finance books focus on hard financial matters and can cover investment, budgeting, running a small business and more. For example, a personal finance book may teach its readers techniques to get out of debt or pay for college. A book written for a business owner may offer new ways to market a business or advice on customer service.
History books tell readers about significant events from the past. Some history books are massive tomes and detail expansive topics, such as the American Civil War. History books can also cover narrow timeframes in great detail. For example, multiple historians have written about the day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, helping to reconstruct that day for modern readers.
Since the publication of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” true crime novels have risen significantly in popularity. These books follow the details of shocking and infamous crimes taken from the headlines, offering a more detailed picture of these disturbing events than newspapers can offer. Some true crime books focus strictly on the facts of the case and may take years of research, but others stray into speculation when the facts are thin.
The goal of humor books is simple: Make the reader laugh. Authors accomplish this mission through different means, such as a chaptered book offering a humorous examination of a particular theme or through pictures depicting amusing scenes. Professional comedians frequently write their own humor books to bring their routines to the masses.
Health and fitness books cover a variety of topics, including healthy eating, weight-lifting and more. Many of these books offer complete lifestyle advice with well-defined diets. Celebrities, doctors and fitness experts write most of the books in this genre.
Cultural and social books look at important and difficult issues facing people today, such as racism or inequality. History plays a role in explaining the background of social issue books, but typically these books focus on current events. Many of these books also serve as advocacy pieces, aiming to convince readers to change their opinions or get involved in the book’s cause.