List of Genres

Below is the list of genres I’ll be using to categorize the books I read. Most books will only fit into one, maybe two of these categories. I’ve simplified the most complicated ones (such as fantasy, which is broader than you might think) to make it easier to understand. I’ll be adding to this list as necessary, but it’s a solid start.

Anthology An anthology is a collection of pieces bound together in a single volume. They might be by a single author or many different authors about the same topic or by a single author on many topics. The volumes in my Nerdiverse series are all anthologies about various aspects of nerd- and geekdom.
Autobiography An autobiography describes the entire life of the writer. It might linger on certain topics or aspects, but usually they tell the story of how the writer got to be the person they are at the time of their writing. Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life is a prime example of autobiography.
Biography Anyone can write a biography, which is how it’s different from an autobiography. Otherwise, it’s the same thing: the author tells the story of a person’s life, usually from start to finish. Unbroken is a popular biography of an Olympic runner and war hero.
Comic-Novel Hybrids These books are characters by the inclusion of doodles, panels, speech bubbles, and/or other elements of comics along with standard prose portions. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is probably the most famous in this genre.
Diary This might sound straightforward—these books are written like journals or diaries. However, diaries can be nonfictional (autobiographies or memoirs) or some form of fiction (often historical fiction, but they may be realistic, too). It’s a form of writing as much as a genre in itself, so pay attention to the other genres on the review. The Diary of a Young Girl is likely the most famous nonfictional diary, while the Dear America books are part of a popular historical fiction series for middle-grade readers.
Dystopian Fiction Technically a subgenre of science fiction, dystopian fiction usually deals with pointing out the flaws in an otherwise “perfect” world. It causes the reader to examine what makes a society function and seek ways to solve problems in real-life societies. The most famous example today is probably The Hunger Games.
Fantasy These books contain magical elements, creatures that can’t exist, and/or no scientific explanation of either. Fantasy can be further broken down into the following two subgenres for my purposes:

·   High Fantasy, in which the author creates a brand-new world from scratch for their setting; think The Hobbit

·   Low Fantasy, in which the author sets their story in the real world with a few modifications; think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Gamebook No, I don’t mean collections of sudoku puzzles or word searches. A gamebook is an interactive novel. They’re typically written in second person, which allows the reader to stand in as the main character of the book. The reader will read a few pages of text, then be presented with an option, such as “Go to the forest: turn to page 16” or “Go to the mountains: turn to page 27.” Depending on the option the reader selects, they will then flip to the correct page and continue reading. My novels WishQuest and Itsumo Hearts are both gamebooks.
Graphic Novel Graphic Novels use images as well as words to tell complex stories. They are not picture books, but rather longer pieces with illustrations on every page. For the purposes of this blog, comic books from around the world (including American comics, manga, manhua, manhwa, etc.) and comics anthologies will fall into this category alongside more traditional graphic novels like Watchmen.
Hi-Lo These books usually contain the same kind of content as a typical middle-grade or young adult novel. Where they differ, however, is the reading level, which tends to be between grades 2-4, even in books written for high school students. Hi-lo novels are intended for struggling readers. The term is short for “high interest, low level” for just that reason. The sentence structures tend to be less complex, the vocabulary simpler, and the themes a little more pronounced. Many academic publishers write and adapt stories as hi-lo novels in schools, but publishers like Orca and Saddleback also make their books available for individual consumers.
Historical Fiction These books are written after the events described/depicted took place. A book written in 2017 about the events of 9/11 is historical fiction, as would be a book written in 1809 about the American Revolution. For examples of this genre, think Gone with the Wind.
Horror Horror is occasionally considered a subgenre of fantasy, since it might include monsters, ghosts, demons, and phantasmagorical elements. Unlike typical fantasy stories, however, horror is designed specifically to scare the reader. Stephen King is widely considered the master of horror, as is evidenced by his novels Cujo and It.
Memoir Unlike autobiographies, memoirs tend to focus on a single aspect of an author’s life. They are therefore narrower in scope, either in terms of the time, such as the author’s childhood, or aspect, such as the author’s struggle with mental illness. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings describes Maya Angelou’s childhood, for example.
Multigenre Secretly, this is one of my favorite genres both to read and write in. It’s for people who can’t decide what they like best, so they do a little bit of everything. Multigenre books might include prose, poetry, emails, instant messages, texts, fliers, illustrations, letters, and many other formats to tell a complex story. Epistolary novels, or stories told primarily through letters or emails, also fall into this category. Dracula, given its use of a variety of formats, might be considered multigenre.
Mystery While most books ask a question and then send characters to seek out answers, the question in a mystery story is more important than just about anything else surrounding it. The question might be as simple as, “Who killed the Mr. Boddy?” or as complex as, “Is that painting in the museum a forgery, and, if so, who stole the real one?” Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most famous mystery novels of all time.
Nonfiction These books contain factual information. They may be on any number of subjects, from Abu Dhabi to Zoology. They might cover historical events, scientific concepts, or even something as straightforward as, “How to do (task).” Technically autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs are nonfiction, but for the purposes of this blog, they will be categorized separately.

·   Literary Nonfiction, a subgenre in which the author describes an event in such a way it seems like they’re telling a story, but it’s actually all completely true; think Devil in the White City

Novels-in-Verse Rather than using prose, authors of novels-in-verse tell their stories through poetry. Typically they use free verse, but some get creative by blending traditional forms (sonnet, haiku, ballad) with more modern forms they create themselves. The classic Don Juan is considered a novel-in-verse.
Poetry In contrast to novels-in-verse, poetry books don’t tell an overarching story. Typically these come in anthology form, and they may be about a few particular themes. The poet organizes the poems carefully, sometimes to send a specific message, though the poems might also be organized chronologically or alphabetically. The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes is an example of this genre.
Realistic Fiction These books are written in and about “modern times.” This means a book written in 2017 about 2017 is realistic fiction…but so is a book written in 1984 about 1984 (the actual book 1984 is neither realistic fiction, nor was it written in 1984, but I digress). Depending on the age of the audience, some realistic fiction will seem like historical fiction, so it’s important to keep this definition in mind when classifying literature. An example of realistic fiction would be The Outsiders.
Science Fiction While technically science fiction could fall under the “fantasy” umbrella, I am going to keep it separate for the purposes of this blog. It often contains scientific explanations for unusual phenomena and questions society in general by using aliens or robots to represent the “other.” There are two major types of science fiction:

·   Hard SF, in which the author gives scientific rules, explanations and background for the technology it uses; think Jurassic Park

·   Soft SF, in which the author explores social issues and/or doesn’t go into detail with how the science works; think The Time Machine

Sports While this might seem more like a topic than an actual genre, I’m using this as a category to help people find books with sports and athletes in them. They might be realistic fiction, historical fiction, or even fantasy novels. If some sort of athletic competition appears in the book, it’ll count as a “sports” book. Mike Lupica is one of the most famous authors of sports novels for middle-grade readers.