We all prefer some particular types of books. Some may love reading stories of space journeys or detectives solving a crime or adventure in a fantasy world or love between a boy and girl, while others may like reading books that are based on facts and share information.
There is no wrong in sticking to a particular kind, but understand how limited a reader you will be if you don’t explore different types of books. It will be like living in the same place from birth to death and not exploring the world. Your life will be highly limited. So, you need to read different types of books, and for that, you need to know what they are.
Hence, in this post, I have discussed about the most popular genres of books. This list will give you a better idea about different types of books, help you explore them, and organize your reading list. You will have a better idea about what you are reading and what you should read next. Above all, knowing about different genres will make you a good reader.
To begin with, we will be seeing these two types of books- fiction and non-fiction. These two further have many genres, which I will be talking about in the following sections. But first, let’s understand-
What is the difference between fiction and non-fiction books?
Fiction- These books contain stories that are created from imagination. The stories may be inspired by real events, but the characters and events are mostly imaginary. For example, Harry Potter books are fictional because they contain stories that are not real. Harry Potter is not a real person, and Hogwarts is not a real place. They are all imaginary.
Non-fiction- These books share real stories which are based on actual events and involve real people. They share facts and information. Self-help books, biographies, and cookbooks are examples of non-fiction. Here, a biography shares the story of a person’s life, where everything is based on actual events, so it’s non-fiction.
What are the most popular book genres in fiction?
Fiction can be a short story, novelette, novella, or novel. This classification of fiction is based on the number of words. On average, a short story contains less than 7500 words, a novelette contains 7500-17,500 words, a novella contains 17,500-40,000 words, and a novel has 40,000+ words.
But the primary classification of fiction is based on genres, which I have explained below-
Action and Adventure
Action and Adventure books involve the main character going on a trip or journey, finding dangerous and life-threatening situations, and fighting to survive or protect the world from evil. These types of books are exciting and adventurous. Most popular examples include- Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Fantasy is one of the most popular book genres in the reading world. Fantasy books involve magic, mythology, or supernatural elements and are mostly set in an imaginary world. The most famous examples are- Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.
Remember that a book can have more than one genre, and it happens with most of the books. For example, Harry Potter books are fantasy as well as action and adventure.
Science fiction also explores an imaginary world like fantasy, but it deals with scientific advancement and futuristic technology instead of magic. Often, sci-fi books are about time travel, space, or some advanced technology. Famous examples include- Dunes by Frank Herbert, The Martian by Andy Weir, and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
Horror books use supernatural and paranormal elements like ghosts, witches, vampires, etc., to scare and shock the readers. Examples of horror novels are The Shining by Stephen King and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
Detective and Mystery
The mystery is one of the most gripping book genres, which you won’t be able to put down once you start reading. These books begin with a crime, mostly murder, and then a detective tries to solve the puzzle and find the murderer. The story can have many twists and closes with a satisfactory ending. Best examples are The Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. In India, Chetan Bhagat’s The Girl in Room 105 and 400 Days are examples of detective and mystery novels.
Romance novels explore love stories between two people. They mostly show obstacles faced by a couple, which they overcome in the end and live happily together. Best examples for romance novels are- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.
The dystopian book genre involves a future world that is worse than our present world and has social, political, or economic issues. Dystopian books are sometimes referred to as a sub-genre of science fiction. The most popular example is George Orwell’s 1984, which is about a world where there is oppression, poverty, war, and deaths.
Young Adult books are written for readers between the age of 12 to 18, but they are also popular among adults. The stories generally revolve around problems faced by teens. Examples of Young Adult are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Classics are books which have been published decades ago and were a masterpiece when it was published. These books have high literary value, represent the time it was written, and still influence the new generation. The best examples are How To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Contemporary fiction contains imaginary characters and situations representing the real world we live in. Unlike fantasy and science fiction, contemporary fiction deals with practical things that can happen to real people, such as falling in love, fighting a disease, etc. Examples of this genre are It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
Graphic Novels contain illustrations and can be fiction or non-fiction. They are very similar to comics but differ because graphic novels have more complex plots and are standalone stories. Examples are Watchmen by Alan Moore and Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Historical fiction involves fictional stories set in the past. They tell stories that deal with actual historical events or figures. Examples are All the Light We Can’t See by Anthony Doerr and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Most of the above book genres are plot-driven, but literary fiction is completely different. They are character-driven serious stories, focus on social or political themes, provoke intellectual thinking and explore realities of life. Examples are The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Thriller novels keep you in excitement, surprise, and anxiety. There are plot twists and cliffhangers that take you towards the climax. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown are the best examples.
Comedy novels involve funny scenes and characters which make readers laugh. It’s not a popular book genre, but still, I am including this in the list because I love it. The best examples are Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
What are the most popular book genres in non-fiction?
Self-help is one of the most popular book genres in non-fiction. These books help readers solve their personal or professional problems, raise their intellectual state, remain motivated, build good habits, and live an effective life. Examples of self-help books are 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma.
Biography and Autobiography
These books tell you about the major stories and events in a person’s entire life. Autobiographies are written by the individual, who is the focus of the book, whereas biographies are written by someone else. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is an example of biography, whereas The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi is an autobiography.
A memoir is a book that shares experiences, memories, and events from the author’s life. It differs from an autobiography because a memoir doesn’t deal with the whole life but covers only a part of the author’s life. Examples of memoirs are Becoming by Michelle Obama and Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra.
History books inform the readers about certain events in the past or the development that has happened over time. They may deal with a world war or a country’s fight for independence. An example of historical non-fiction is India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra.
Cookbooks contain a collection of recipes, information about different dishes, and the experiences of the author. Examples of cookbooks are Vegetarian India by Madhur Jaffrey and Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.
There are many other non-fiction book genres like travel, garden, health, sports, dictionary, textbook, encyclopedia, business, etc. All these books provide you with facts and information about a particular topic. For example, travel books will provide you with travel guides, health books will inform you about how to live a healthy life or lose weight, and so on.
This was all about types and popular genres of books. I must mention this is not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of genres and sub-genres in total, which can’t be covered in a single post. So, I have included only the popular ones which cover most of the books.
I hope now you have a clear idea of different types of books. I would suggest you to explore these genres and read a variety of books. For, through exploration, you will find many hidden treasures.
Also, let me know in the comments which of the above book genres you like the most. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel, where I post book related videos. And, thanks for reading.