The Author’s Guide to Twenty-Five of the Most Popular Literary Genres & Book Genres

As a writer, being well-versed in the vast array of different literary genres and book genres is vital for the success of the book, you’re writing. Genre primarily influences your writing process, depending on your book’s literary elements, content, style, or fundamentals.

It is also essential for labeling and marketing purposes. Readers of specific genres have high expectations for the books they read, and they must be met, so incorrectly labeling your book’s genre can lead to unfavorable reviews, low sales, and ultimately, a game over for your journey to being a bestseller.

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Many writers struggle with determining the different literary genres and book genres and describing their books to others as it can be pretty confusing. Moreover, many genres have overlapping attributes, and knowing their bounds can be arduous.

For sure, you have some favorite genres in mind, and you’ve already established expertise in them, but how about the many other genres waiting to be explored and written by a writer like you? Fortunately, we’re here to guide you through the different literary genres and book genres so you wouldn’t have to struggle anymore and put your work on the bestseller list.

Literary Genres and Book Genres

To help you in your confusion, a literary and book genre pertains to the classification of a book based on literary approach, tone, topic, or length. These attributes of a book can all influence its genre. Classifying literary and book genres typically start with broader, more abstract classes and works their way down into more specific distinctions.

Generally, we can classify book genres into two: fiction and nonfiction. Fiction pertains to works whose ideas sprang from the author’s imagination. It is primarily any narrative work that depicts people, events, or locations in a fictitious way or at odds with reality, history, or plausibility.

However, its topic could still draw inspiration from or incorporate elements from actual life. It usually takes the form of prose, typically novels, novellas, and short stories but is not strictly confined to this as fiction can take the form of visuals like graphic novels and comics.

On the other hand, the opposite of fiction, nonfiction is based on historical facts, current events, and real-world experiences. It has one goal: to inform.

Instead of relying on the author’s imagination or creativity, nonfiction is supported by the facts and conclusions of a writer’s research or area of expertise. Even though outstanding nonfiction requires excellent storytelling abilities, the information should still be accurate. Additionally, nonfiction is written in prose, which has a conversational tone.

Now that you understand the broad categories of literary genres and book genres, it’s high time that we talk about the more specific genres you can explore and discover what genres you have a knack for. So let’s get down to the 25 most famous literary and book genres.

1.   Coffee table books

Often referred to as cocktail table books, coffee table books have a different and distinct purpose from other books. Usually more significant than most books, its purpose is mainly to be home accents made to be shown off on the coffee table, sideboard, or bookcase.

Such books are works of art containing images and colors that evoke strong feelings and inspire creativity in readers. Usually, these pictures have little to no descriptions but are a great tool as a conversation starter between guests.

Coffee table books are typically considered content-free and books to leaf through for people in a waiting room to pass the time.

However, books are meant to be read, so instead of being just a different aesthetic to a room, coffee table books contain informative contents which commonly revolve around the themes of art, photography, fashion, interior and exterior design, and nature, among many others.

2.    Zines

Typically small scale and produced in limited batches, a zine is a self-published, non-commercial print containing original or appropriated texts and images. The process of creating a zine makes it low-cost.

It is usually reproduced via a copy machine and can be sewn, taped, or glued, while some zines come unbound. Its concept veers away from the traditional publishing rules so anyone can focus on various topics.

There are practically no rules in making a zine. Its primary purpose is to allow its author (or creator) to freely express itself and its artistic passion rather than making a profit.

3.    Business reports

A business report is an official document that includes factual information, statistical data, research findings, or any other type of material pertinent to a course of a job. A key component of producing business reports is objectivity.

Everything that a writer says should be backed up by data and facts, not assumptions and opinions. Its purpose is to analyze the current and potential solutions to a situation, problem, or issue and use business and management principles in a real-world setting.

4.    Whitepapers

A whitepaper is an authoritative and in-depth report or guide that provides readers with clear information on a complicated subject and outlines the issuing body’s perspective.

It presents a problem and offers a solution to a particular subject. Marketers typically produce whitepapers to inform readers on a specific topic or to describe and advance a specific methodology. It is a sophisticated problem-solving manual.

5.    Self-help books

A self-help book is a resource for people dealing with a particular problem.

It aims to be a helpful method for the readers to discover more about themselves and how they interact with the world. These books can also be a valuable tool for dealing with challenges, such as stress, forming relationships with others, or helping the readers determine what they want to accomplish with their life.

This book genre is prevalent because it always has audiences waiting and wanting to consume it. Typically, self-help books are written by a writer who has personally experienced an issue. Aside from this, the author should also come from a position of authority where they are well-researched on the topic.

6.    Marketing books

Marketing books may be considered self-help books but specifically for marketers aiming to advance their knowledge in the field. It typically contains tips and techniques by expert marketers on the business of promoting and selling products or services. It helps people solve their marketing-related problems through expert advice and experiences from marketers who also went through the same problem as the reader.

7.    Religious books

Religious books also referred to as “inspirational” or “spiritual” books, encompass both fiction and nonfiction categories of literature.

These books may be more general or affiliated with a particular faith, from Buddhism to Wicca, but commonly have an inspirational value with underlying religious or ethical principles. Since religious books encompass both fiction and nonfiction, an author can explore what genre can best showcase a religious theme. It could be a self-help book, a memoir, or even a novel.

8.    Magazine

A magazine is a type of periodic publication that features various information and is often issued regularly, which can be weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or even quarterly. It is an all-purpose publication consisting of articles and illustrations that are entertaining, promotional, and instructive. It covers a particular subject or area of interest, like sports, fashion, women, health, and lifestyle.

9. Children’s books

Children’s books are written to educate or entertain young readers. Any book that appeals to children or young readers who may not be yet interested in adult literature or who may not have the reading abilities or developmental understandings required for their reading can be considered a children’s book.

Children’s books typically contain illustrations to appeal to a child’s senses. This genre includes a wide range of works such as picture books, fairy tales, lullabies, fables, and folk songs, all written in a way children can readily appreciate and understand.

10. Fiction books

Fiction books are written works that were created through the imagination of the writer. It speaks about made-up characters, worlds, and happenings that, although they may have semblance in real life, are not real.

Fiction comes with many sub-genres, which include science fiction, thriller, romance, and drama, among many others. It can take the form of novels, novelettes, novellas, flash fiction, short stories, and poetry.

In fiction, the author focuses on imagining and creating made-up plotlines with made-up characters, settings, and dialogues. Readers of all age brackets enjoy this genre. Its goal is to immerse readers in worlds or experiences they may have never experienced or never will.

11. Comics

Comics is a visual medium that uses drawn images often combined with texts to tell an idea or a story. The texts often take the form of image captions and speech balloons, wherein creators often use onomatopoeia to indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information that could drive the story.

However, if words functionally overpower the drawn images, it becomes merely an illustration of a text and can no longer be considered a comic. Instead, it uses panels and strips to show the sequence of a story. Comics are usually seen in newspapers and magazines, but longer comic stories can come in a periodical.

12. Graphic novels

Like comics, graphic novels combine sequential illustrations and texts with telling a story. Unlike comics, it tells a narrative as a stand-alone rather than a periodical.

Often aimed at mature audiences, graphic novels usually have a complex and lengthy storyline, just like any other novel, so it is bound in longer and more durable formats. Major graphic novels include manga, superhero stories, anthologized stories, and even nonfiction-like personal stories.

13. History books

History books are nonfiction literature that tells known facts about a particular time, event, or culture in history. It lays out the chronological order of events that happened in the past through various research and cross-checking among historical records. It may focus on a single historical event or a broader view of past events.

14. Cookbooks

Cookbooks are kitchen references containing details, instructions, and information about various dishes and recipes. It can talk about food in general or particularize a specific cuisine or category of food where step-by-step instructions on how to cook such dishes are specified. It is a way for cooks to preserve their recipes consumed and recreated by other cooks.

15. Storybooks

A storybook is a collection of short stories for children or young audiences. Some storybooks contain illustrations to appeal to the senses of children. Introducing new ideas to children through storybooks allows their imagination to be quickly developed, so it helps that its usual themes revolve around fantastical worlds, made-up characters, and adventures.

16. Novels

A novel is a narrative prose fiction characterized by its intricate and extensive tale. It can be a work of fiction or semi-fiction and frequently engages creatively with human experience, usually through sequential narration about a single individual or a group of people in a particular place.

Novelists commonly explore the following book styles: picaresque, epistolary, Gothic, romantic, realism, and historical, among many more genres.

There is also an extensive range of genres for a novel where the writer should stick to the styles and conventions to match their readers’ expectations. Some genres are mystery, thriller, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and horror, among many more.

17. Biography, autobiographies, and memoirs

A biography is an account of a person’s life written by someone else. It pictures the events and experiences of a person, typically a personality whether still living or died centuries ago, for readers to take inspiration from.

It involves more than just the basic facts about a person like education, work, relationships, and death as it provides an in-depth look at every significant aspect of a person’s life from birth to death (or present-day) as well as the life-changing moments of a person which usually becomes the highlight of the biography.

Usually, periods in a person’s life like their childhood, coming of age, failures, and successes are featured in their biography.

On the other hand, an autobiography is just the same as a biography, but the difference is that it is self-written. An autobiography can take many forms like memoirs, diaries, journals, and reminiscences. A memoir is a collection of an author’s memories, personal experiences, intimacy, and emotional truth.

18. Poetry collections

Poetry is an art form that uses language to express emotions or ideas. It can be written in any form, from free verse to those that follow a specific structure, such as rhyming couplets or haiku.

Poetry can communicate a message, tell a story, or express emotion. It is often considered one of literature’s most beautiful and moving forms. It often uses figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, to create vivid images.

It can also employ sound devices, such as alliteration and assonance, to create a musical effect. Poetry can be serious or lighthearted, personal or political. It can be about anything at all. Compile them into a book and get a poetry collection that can be published in a single volume or a chapbook.

19. Short story collections

A short story is a work of fiction that typically tells a single, self-contained story. In contrast to a novel, which is usually much longer and tells a complex, multi-layered story, a short story is usually focused on a single event or theme. While novels can sometimes be hundreds or thousands of pages long, short stories are usually only a few pages long. This shorter length makes them easier to read in one sitting. This makes them perfect for readers who want to enjoy a quick read.

Although short, it can still be powerful and engaging, with complex characters and storylines. Short stories can be compiled into an anthology, making it a short story collection.

20. Art and photography

Art and photography books can be a great source of inspiration for artists and photographers. They can provide ideas for composition, lighting, and color. They can also give insight into the work of other artists and photographers.

There are many different types of art and photography books; some focus on a specific artist, while others focus on a specific genre of art or photography. Some books teach the basics of art and photography. These books usually have brightly colored pictures and easy-to-understand text.

21. Essays

Essays are a type of writing that is often used in academia. However, there is a blurring now in the styles of essays as a writer can write a personal essay that tells about a particular life experience or event. An essay is typically a short piece of writing that presents an argument or research on a particular topic. Essays can be either formal or informal.

Formal essays are usually longer and more detailed, while informal essays are shorter and less formal. Essays offer a unique perspective on a topic and can be used to communicate a writer’s thoughts and feelings about that topic and influence the reader’s opinion on it.

Regardless of the reason for writing an essay, there are some basic steps that all writers should follow to produce a successful piece. These steps include choosing a topic, researching that topic, and planning and drafting the essay.

22. Guides and how-to

Guides and how-to offer readers a helping hand on how to resolve a specific problem. A writer can write guides for just about anything. How-tos are usually step-by-step instructions that show readers exactly what they need to do to complete a task. They can be accommodating for people trying to learn something new.

If a person needs help with a specific task, it’s worth looking for a guide to walk them through the steps. When writing guides and how-tos, the writer must be knowledgeable and well-researched enough about the topic to avoid confusion and mistakes for the readers.

23. Humanities & social sciences

The humanities and social sciences are essential to understanding the human experience. They can help us make sense of the world around us and our place in it.

They can also provide insights into different cultures and how they interact with each other, so writing a book about it could be a significant contribution to the field and society. There are many different ways to approach writing about humanities and social sciences. One way is to focus on the historical context of a topic.

Another way is to analyze its social implications and explore the philosophical underpinnings of the topic. Whichever approach a writer takes, the key is to be clear and concise, as humanities and social sciences topics can already be complex. When writing about humanities and social sciences, it is essential to remember that both disciplines share a common goal: to improve the human condition.

24. Women’s fiction

Women’s fiction is a literary genre that focuses on women’s lives and experiences. This includes stories about love, relationships, family, motherhood, and other aspects of women’s lives.

Women’s fiction often explores the challenges and tribulations women face in their day-to-day lives. It is written by and for women that could offer readers a relatable experience. Women’s fiction can be both severe and lighthearted. It is an excellent way for women to tell their stories and share their unique perspectives with the world.

25. Young adult fiction

Young adult fiction, commonly referred to as YA, is a literature genre typically meant for readers between the ages of 13 and 18. The stories often focus on characters going through coming-of-age experiences, such as first love, loss, or heartbreak.

Many young adult novels are written in first-person perspective, which allows readers to feel closer to the characters. There are many reasons why young adult fiction is so popular.

One reason is that the books often deal with relatable themes, and another is that they are usually easy to read and fast-paced, making them perfect for busy teens. Additionally, many young adult novels are now being made into movies or TV shows, further increasing their popularity.

Now those are the twenty-five of the most famous literary genres and book genres you can explore as a writer.

Of course, trying to write these different genres can be new for you, but you might be surprised at how much you enjoy writing in a different genre and see how your skills improve. From here, you may find that you prefer writing in one genre over another or are equally comfortable writing in multiple genres. Whatever the case, writing in different genres is a great way to become a more well-rounded writer.


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Published by Marius D. Carlos, Jr.

Journalist, copyeditor and digital content specialist. A lover of life and all things pop culture and mass media. Accepting content projects from all over the world! Email me: marius@contentexpertsph.com | Find me rocking content SEO here: contentexpertsph.com

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