Books come in a variety of genres. Some may be more popular than others, but that doesn’t necessarily influence the quality of the story nor the prose. Many genres even intertwine. I read books from various genres – literary fiction, fantasy, dystopian, historical fiction, mysteries, horror and adventure. I also enjoy reading classics, but they don’t constitute a genre, being overall just an assortment of books that have stood the test of time. Usually, I just stay away from Young Adult and cheesy romances.
Which book genres are my favourites, though? There are four that stand out from the rest.
Books from the historical fiction genre, as the designation implies, are set in the past from the perspective of their authors. The characters and the plot may be fictional, but the author needs to conduct extensive research in order to achieve a realistic and historically accurate setting. Successful historical fiction novels make readers travel in time. Some of my recent favourite books in this genre are, for example, The Miniaturist and The Muse by Jessie Burton and The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal.
The fantasy genre is characterised by a narrative filled with magical elements or creatures. There are various subgenres within fantasy. I prefer books that are in the realm of epic fantasy (the plot is about a massive event or quest that takes place in an intricate world), political fantasy (the focus is on political intrigue, which requires first-rate world building) or alternative history (magical elements are added to historical events, creating a substitute version of the past). Some of my favourite books within the fantasy genre are Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin and The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb.
I always cherish reading dystopian novels, although it’s by no means the genre that I read the most. The books in this genre depict an imaginary hostile society. They can explore, for example, the aftermath of a disaster or portray an oppressive regime. Some of my favourite books in this genre are Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.
Books from the literary fiction genre are character-driven, mostly introspective and feature instances of social commentary. When they take place in the present day, there is an overlap with contemporary fiction. The difference between the two genres is the artistic value of literary fiction, but as such a characteristic can be subjective, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two. Moreover, some books that can be considered literary fiction also feature elements of other genres, such as magical realism and historical fiction. That is the case of The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago, for example. Another literary fiction book I loved recently was The Vegetarian by Han Kang.
Which are your favourite book genres? Do you have any favourite books from the genres I listed? Tell me in the comments!