Different Types or Genres of Books With Examples
Genres of books simply specify what categories or sub-categories does a book belong to. If you are a regular book reader, you probably already know about some book genres that you have read or that you love reading.
In this post, you will learn about the two main types of books and their sub-categories which we commonly refer to as genres of books.
CONTENTS (click to navigate)
- Action and Adventure
- Comic and Graphic Novel
- Crime and Detective
- Fairy Tale
- Historical Fiction
- Magical Realism
- Realistic Fiction
- Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)
- Short Story
Types of Books
Fiction books contain a made-up story – a story that did not actually happen in real life. These stories are derived from the imagination and creativity of the authors and are not based on facts.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 1984 by George Orwell, Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling are some of the examples of fiction books.
Non-fiction or nonfiction books are factual books. Unlike fiction books, they are based on facts and information that can be verified to be true.
Some examples of non-fiction books are The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin, How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, an encyclopedia, etc.
Sometimes you may come across another category named semi-fiction. Do not be confused. Even semi-fiction books are taken to be work of fiction. Apart from the made-up story, these books also include some factual information. For example, the famous book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is based on real historical events of Afghanistan, but the story told in this book is actually a made up one.
Genres of Books
The above types of books can be further divided into many sub-categories and each of these sub-categories is a genre. We will discuss the different genres of books under fiction and non-fiction categories.
(Please Note that it is totally possible for the same book to be categorized under many book genres. For example – Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie can come under Crime and Detective, Mystery, Thriller and Realistic Fiction too)
Above picture shows a flowchart of different genres of books. Each of these are briefly explained below. Number 1 to 23 are book genres under FICTION category.
Following is the list of different genres of books:
1. Action and Adventure
The stories under this genre usually show an event or a series of events that happen outside the course of the protagonist’s ordinary life. The plot is mostly accompanied by danger and physical action. These stories almost always move quickly and the high pace of the plot is usually an important part of the story.
Some examples of Action and Adventure books are:
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
An anthology is a collection of series of works such as short stories, poems, essays, plays, etc. by different authors into a single volume for publication. The selection of such works is made based on some common theme or subject of books and usually done by an editor or small editorial board.
For example: The Poets Laureate Anthology by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt
Classic refers to the fictions that are accepted as the most important and influential books of a particular time period or place. These books are widely taught in schools.
Examples of classic books are:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
4. Comic and Graphic Novel
These books are based on a sequence of hand-drawn pictures. The story is usually told visually with very few words and those words are mostly placed either in panels on top or bottom of pictures or as speech bubbles.
Some examples are:
- V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
- Saga by Brian K Vaughan
5. Crime and Detective
As the name suggests, this book genre deals with crime, criminal motives and the investigation and detection of the crime and criminals.
Popular examples of this genre are:
- Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
- And There Were None by Agatha Christie
- Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Dramas are stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotions are expressed through dialogue and actions.
Examples of drama are:
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett
- The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Fables are fictional narratives in prose or verse that typically features personified animals, mythical and legendary creatures, plants, etc. as the main characters. The characters in fable possess human qualities, such as the ability to speak in human language. These legendary tales demonstrate some useful truth and are meant to teach a moral lesson.
Examples of Fables are:
- The Lion And The Mouse by Aesop
- The Fox and The Grapes by Aesop
8. Fairy Tale
Fairy tale is usually a story for children that involves imaginary creatures and magical events.
Examples of this genre are:
- Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck
- Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm
- Beauty And The Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
Fan Fiction, as the name suggests, is a fiction written by a fan of a particular book or book series. The characters and the plot of fan fiction are usually taken from the original work but the story is different.
Some examples of fan-fiction are:
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
- Harry Potter And The Method of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
- James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing by G. Norman Lippert
(All three books above are fan fiction of Harry Potter Series)
A Book under this genre contains a story set in a fantasy world – a world that is not real and often includes magic, magical creatures, and supernatural events.
Some popular examples of fantasy are:
- Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
- The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
11. Historical Fiction
Historical fiction is a genre of book that includes writings that reconstruct the past. The story is set in the past keeping the manners, social conditions and other details of that period unchanged. The writers incorporate the past events or people in their fictitious stories.
Examples of this historical fiction are:
- Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Horror is a genre that is intended to or has the ability to create the feeling of fear, repulsion, fright or terror in the readers. In other words, it creates a frightening and horror atmosphere.
Examples of horror fiction are:
- The Shining by Stephen King
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
- It by Stephen King
Humor fiction is usually full of fun, fancy, and excitement. It is meant to entertain and sometimes cause intended laughter in readers.
Examples of humor fiction are:
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
- Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
It’s a story, sometimes of a national or folk hero that is considered to be based on facts but also includes imaginative material. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human values, and possess certain qualities that give the readers a reason to believe in the tale.
Examples of Legend fiction are:
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart
- The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
15. Magical Realism
It is a genre of book wherein magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise-realistic environment.
Examples of magical realism are:
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Mystery books have a suspenseful plot that often involves a mysterious crime. Suspects and motives are considered and clues throughout the story lead to a solution to the problem.
Examples of mystery books are:
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
These books include a legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism and often pertaining to the actions of the gods.
Examples of mythology books are:
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton
- Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli
- Norse Gods and Giants by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
18. Realistic Fiction
Realistic fiction has a story that is true to life and seems real but isn’t actually real. Stories under this book genre are often set in modern times and have characters who seem like real people.
Examples of realistic fiction are:
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
The primary focus of romance fiction is on the relationship and romantic love between two people. These books have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
Examples of this book genre are:
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Satire is a genre of book that entertains making fun of vices, foolishness, shortcomings, etc. of individuals, corporations, government, or society through sarcasm and irony. It is often done with the intention of inducing the sense of improvement among people.
Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, the humor often shows the dark truth of the society and is meant to work as constructive social criticism.
Examples of Satire are:
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
21. Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)
Science Fiction typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, extraterrestrial life, etc. The stories are often set in the future or on other planets.
Examples of this book genre are:
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Dune by Frank Herbert
22. Short Story
A short story is a short prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting. The stories under this genre often do not have subplots. It deals with a few characters and aims at the unity of effect and often concentrate on the creation of mood rather than plot.
Examples of short stories are:
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
This genre of book is characterized and defined by the moods they evoke among the readers, giving them heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, thrill, surprise, anticipation, and anxiety. Literary devices such as plot twists and cliffhangers are extensively used in this genre.
Some popular examples of suspense/thriller books are:
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
- Deception Point by Dan Brown
Above genres of books were under FICTION category. Now, following is the list of different genres of books under NON-FICTION category:
Biography is a narrative on someone’s life written by someone else. When a person himself writes about his life, then the book is called an autobiography.
Some examples are:
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
An essay is usually a short literary composition that reflects an author’s outlook or point of view on a particular topic.
Examples of some popular essays are:
- A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
- On The Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt
- As a White Slave by Nellie Bly
A memoir is basically a collection of memories that an individual writes on moments or events that he experiences in his life. These writings are taken to be factual.
Sometimes a Memoir is taken to be an autobiography, but they are actually different. An autobiography is an account of the person’s entire lifetime, but a memoir is an account of only a narrower set of the author’s experience.
Some example of memoirs are:
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
- The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
27. Narrative Nonfiction
Narrative nonfiction (also known as literary nonfiction or creative nonfiction) is a genre of books that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives in a format that tells a story.
Some examples of Narrative nonfiction are:
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Periodicals as the name suggest, are written periodically at regular definitive intervals. Newspapers, magazines, Journals are some examples.
29. Reference Books
These are books that we refer to when we need some specific information. Some examples of this genre of books are a dictionary, an encyclopedia, an atlas, etc.
30. Self-help Book
Self-help books contain information that is intended to help the readers to solve their personal problems and make their life better.
Some Popular examples of self-help books are:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This is a public address or discourse written into a book.
Examples of speech books are:
- Lend Me Your Ears by William Safire
- The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches by Brian MacArthur (Editor)
- Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
A textbook is a manual of instruction in any branch of study. It contains an authoritative and detailed factual description of a topic. Textbooks are produced as per the demands of educational institutions. Mathematics, science, and history textbooks taught in schools are some basic examples.
Poetry is one of the most important genres of books in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. Poems written under poetry can be of different types according to the style in which they are written.
Poetry can fall into both Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. If the poetry is based on facts, it will be a nonfiction poetry, and if it is not based on facts then it will be a fiction poetry.
Some examples of poetry books are:
- Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Paradise Lost by John Milton
So, this was the list of genres of books with brief descriptions and examples.
Although most of the important genres are covered in this article, there can still be some more that exist. If you are aware of any other genres of books that are not mentioned here, please mention it in the comment section below. I will add that too.