Genres Of Books | Literary Genres

Vidisha Pandey
Oct 07, 2019   •  46 views


There's a very broad classification of literary genres when we start from scratch. Either we could formally classify them into well-planned categories or just go on randomly naming the generic ones.

Well, when I talk of the word generic, I would like to draw your attention to an anomaly…

We usually associate the word 'generic' or 'general' to something that's common.

But when we deeply touch upon it, something 'generic' means 'Basic', something that's a starting point (root: base, meaning: platform), in simpler words, 'foundation' of something and not common.

Of course, a particular thing/phenomena could happen to be basic AND common at the same time.

That doesn't make both the words the same.

The casual English used in today's date, seems to have diluted those meanings, frankly!

Now, without using the above mentioned debatable words, let's just say that the following is a detailed guide to Literary Genres.




Fantasy is a genre that generally features the use of magic, wizardry, prophecy, supernatural phenomena, the plot, setting, or theme. Magical or mythological creatures as well as races other than humans also come under this.

Popular fantasy books:

  1. Game of thrones: George R.R. Martin

  2. The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss

  3. American Gods: Neil Gaiman

  4. Clockwork Angel: Cassandra Clare

  5. The fifth season: N.K. Jemisin

  6. The blade itself: Joe Abercrombie

  7. Gardens of the moon: Steven Erikson

  8. The Golden compass: Philip Pullman

  9. Night Watch: Terry Pratchett

  10. A Memory of Light: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Science Fiction


"Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. "


Popular Sci-fi books:

  1. 1984: George Orwell

  2. Frankenstein: Mary Shelley

  3. Dune: Frank Herbert

  4. The Martian: Andy Weir

  5. Children of time: Adrian Tchaikovsky

  6. The fifth season: N.K Jemisin

  7. The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins

  8. The Andromeda Strain: Michael Crichton

  9. The Invisible Man: H.G Wells

  10. Harry Potter Series (7)



Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between people.

This has many subgenres ranging from-

  1. Contemporary Romance

  2. Historical Romance

  3. Romantic Suspense

  4. Spiritual romance

  5. Paranormal or fantasy romance

  6. Sci-fi romance

  7. Young adult romance

Popular books from the Romantic Genre are:

  1. Love in the time of Cholera: Gabriel Garcia Márquez

  2. The light we lost: Jill Santopolo

  3. Winter's tale: Mark Helprin

  4. Eleanor and Park: Rainbow Rowell

  5. Twilight: Stephenie Meyer

  6. The Scarlet Letter: Nathaniel Howthorne

  7. Lady of quality: Georgette Heyer

  8. The Bride: Julie Garwood

  9. Lord of Scoundrels: Loretta Chase

  10. The Fault in our Stars: John Green


Well, It is one genre that encompasses the sub-parts/characteristics of many genres like Suspense, Horror and dark comedy at times.

It involves feelings of anticipation, anxiety and excitement.


Of course, every thriller novel isn't meant to only have dark elements or have a negative/retrogressive ending but that is how most people usually interpret the genre.

As readers, you must know and keep in mind the slightest of differences or variations across closely related genres!

If you're inquisitive enough, do read about the history and evolution of this genre!

Popular thriller novels are:

  1. The Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown

  2. Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn

  3. The Hunt for Red October:Tom Clancy

  4. Deception Point: Dan Brown

  5. Angels & Demons: Dan Brown

  6. Jason Bourne: Robert Ludlum

  7. The Tears of Autumn: Charles McCarry

  8. A time to kill: John Grisham

  9. The Count of Monte Cristo: Alexandre Dumas

  10. Shutter Island: Dennis Lehane


There could be many variants of a book belonging to this genre, ranging from Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction to Suspense.

It's quite evidently a bit overlapping with the thriller genre.

Each suspect is usually provided with a credible motive of doing what he/she does through the story.


Source: Paperap

Mystery fiction can be divided into numerous categories, including

  1. Amateur detective

  2. Bumbling detective

  3. Caper

  4. Comedy detective

  5. Cozy mystery or Softboiled

  6. Espionage

  7. Hardboiled

  8. Historical mystery

  9. Holmesian

  10. Howdunit or Inverted mystery

  11. Intuitionist

  12. Legal thriller

  13. Locked-room mystery or impossible crime

  14. Medical thriller

  15. Police procedural

  16. Traditional mystery

  17. True crime

  18. Whodunit

  19. Women in peril

Popular Mystery Books:

  1. Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie

  2. Nancy Drew: Franklin W. Dixon

  3. Hardy Boys: Edward Stratemeyer

  4. Sherlock Holmes: Arthur Conan Doyle

  5. Rebecca: Daphne du Maurier

  6. The Women in White: Wilkie Collins

  7. The firm: John Grisham

  8. Crime and Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  9. The Secret Place: Tana French

  10. The dark lake: Sarah Bailey


This genre also known as 'Dystopian Literature' usually outlines social and political structures in the dark settings.

Dystopia is a society of the poverty-stricken and oppressed.


Source: ReadWriteThink

Popular Dystopian Books:

  1. Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift

  2. The Begum's Fortune (1879) by Jules Verne

  3. The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London

  4. The Heads of Cerberus (1919) by "Francis Stevens

  5. The Trial (1925) by Franz Kafka

  6. Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

  7. Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen (1948) by Roald Dahl

  8. Minority Report (1956) by Philip K. Dick

  9. Planet of the Apes (1963) by Pierre Boulle

  10. Los Angeles: AD 2017 (1971) by Phillip Wylie


Set in the late 19th century in the American Old West, this genre is a narrative of the life of a Nomadic gunfighter and cowboy.

Some common plots from this genre 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, which hinge on the chase and pursuit by someone who has been wronged.

  • Stories about cavalry fighting Native Americans.

  • Outlaw gang plots.

  • Stories about a lawman or bounty hunter tracking down his quarry.

Popular Western Books include:

  1. The Virginian: Owen Sister

  2. The Big Sky: Alfred Bertram Guterie

  3. True Grit: Charles Portis

  4. Little Big Man: Thomas Berger

  5. The Searchers: Alan Le May

  6. Dead Man's Walk: Larry McMurtry

  7. Inland: A Novel- Téa Obreht

  8. A Lady of the West: Linda Howard

  9. Dragon Teeth: Michael Crichton

  10. The Psychology of the western: William Indick

Writing Genres (literary genres)

  • Prose

It is a form of writing that doesn't have a metrical structure. It mainly involves the usage of natural speech flow and very simple grammar. Most people think and write in prose form.

  • Poetry

It is an expression of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions or ideas that are intensified with fancy and rhythmic attributes.

  • Drama

Robert Longley:

In literature, a drama is the portrayal of fictional or non-fictional events through the performance of written dialog (either prose or poetry). Dramas can be performed on stage, on film, or the radio. Dramas are typically called plays, and their creators are known as “playwrights” or “dramatists.”

  • Hybrid forms

Erini Katopodis-

“There are several types of Hybrid literature in existence. By nature, the forms it can take are infinite, being that to qualify as a hybrid form you need only cross genres, or alter a genre, into something unlike the original. Some hybrid forms include: prose poems, brief essays, flash fiction, playlets, unfilmable films, fables, lyric essays, epistles, ear plays, lists, footnotes, questions, instructions, autobiographies, and more.”

Some of the earliest literary critiques and rhetorical scholars are:

  • Plato

Athenian Philosopher, Plato, is of course the founder of the platonist school of thought and the First institution of higher learning in the west.

He was a member of the circle around Socrates.

His works include the Laws, Phaedrus, Euthyphro, Ion, Meno, Theaetetus, Phaedo,

Protagoras, Lysis, Hippias Minor

  • Aristotle

He has been one of the most popular and acclaimed Greek philosophers. He has written the Nichomachean ethics, poetics, politics, metaphysica, posterior analytics, etc.



He died in 322 BC and after his death, his work stayed unrecognized for many years until the 1st Century!

  • Socrates

Socrates was yet another classic Greek Philosopher who has been credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought.


Source: freedom and

Background -

Source: (Read More)

" Socrates was not well-born or wealthy, but many of his admirers were, and they included several of the most politically prominent Athenian citizens…. Socrates’ long fits of abstraction, his courage in battle, his resistance to hunger and cold, his ability to consume wine without apparent inebriation, and his extraordinary self-control in the presence of sensual attractions are all described with consummate artistry in the opening and closing pages of Symposium.... "

  • Aeschylus

The father of tragedy, Aeschylus was known to be credited for the existence of the Tragedy Genre.

His works include the Oresteia,

Prometheus Bound, the Suppliants, Libation Bearers, etc.

  • Aspasia

She was an immigrant to Athens of the classical era. Aspasia, (flourished 5th century BC), mistress of the Athenian statesman Pericles and a vivid figure in Athenian society. Although Aspasia came from the Greek Anatolian city of Miletus and was not a citizen of Athens, she lived with Pericles from about 445 until his death in 429.

  • Euripides

He was a tragedian of the classical Athens. Some ancient scholars attributed 95 plays to him but according to the Suda, it was 92 at most." Euripides was credited with being on an intellectual par with philosophers and his characters are given great rhetorical skills."

  • The prevailing genres of literary composition in Ancient Greece were all written and constructed to explore cultural, moral, or ethical questions; they were ultimately defined as the genres of epic, tragedy, and comedy.

Other literary genres

  • Play

a dramatic layout or piece; drama/scene/theatre

  • Musical

melodious; harmonious.

A music genre is a customary order or category that distinguishes some sections of music as affiliated to a tradition or faction of conventions.

  • Satire

a literary configuration in forms of verse or prose, most often involving sarcastic and ridiculing nature of expression.

  • Horror

Is a genre of fiction whose purpose is to create feelings of fear, dread, repulsion, and terror in the audience—in other words, it develops an atmosphere of horror.

  • Anthology

a book or compilation of assorted or selected works by diverse authors, usually in the similar forms of Literature, on the same matters of concern and more or less based in coequal periods.

Alternately; a collection of selected works of one author.

Classification of genres-


  • Classic- of the first or highest quality, class, or rank; basic; fundamental. (

  • Comics/graphic novel- A graphic novel is a usually a publication of comic content.

A "graphic novel" may include nonfiction and fiction. It may also have periodical context.

  • Contemporary- existing or occurring at indistinguishable or same time; as is evident from the word. (Con: concordance, tempo: time, -rary: adverbial suffix)

  • Fable

a laconic or short account in the form of a tale, to impart usually,moral wisdom;

often with use of beings such as animals, inoperative or operative objects; apologue or narrative.

A fable is allowed to have hypnagogic, sublime, ethereal or impalpable and extraordinary elements to it.

  • Fairy tale

A story, generally having a positive and dream like backdrop is composed usually for children, many a times romantics. However, as a traditional literary form it's much more than and beyond the very common romantic subgenre! Other very typical characters could be hobgoblins, dragons, elves or other magical creatures

More genres under fiction:

  • Crime/detective

  • Fan fiction

  • Folktale

  • Legend

  • Magical realism

  • Mythology

  • Swashbuckler

  • Mythopoeiaeia

  • Young Adult Fiction

  • Meta fiction

  • Historical fiction


  • Biography

an account in biographical/ vividly explanatory form of an entity: a person, institution, society, community, theater, animal, etc.


  • Memoir

a literary directory of events/experiences or incidences written, implemented or accommodated by a person having one-on-one knowledge or observation of them.

Other genres under Nonfiction:

  • Reference books

  • Self help books

  • Literature and history

  • Political books

  • Children's literature

I would love to know what your favourite literary genres are, comment below!



Profile of Maryam Rushda
Maryam Rushda  •  2y  •  Reply
i appreciate the sheer efforts that have gone into this.
Profile of Vidisha Pandey
Vidisha Pandey  •  2y  •  Reply
Thanks a ton!
Profile of Maryam Rushda
Maryam Rushda  •  2y  •  Reply
Just phenomenal !!!