Book genres and suggestions for holiday gifts

Types of books and suggestions for Christmas gifts

It is the season of giving and what better gift to give than the gift of reading, whether to yourself or to friends and relatives!

In this post, I explain the two genres of books and showcase the types of books under these genres. I also suggest books from each genre that have had international or national acclaim and would make great holiday gifts.

Book Genres

Books are divided into two genres - fiction and non-fiction. 

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines fiction as follows:

... literature created from the imagination, not presented as fact, though it may be based on a true story or situation. Types of literature in the fiction genre include the novel, short story and novella. The word is from the Latin fictiƍ, “the act of making, fashioning, or molding.
While “[n]onfictional prose, is any literary work that is based mainly on fact, even though it may contain fictional elements. Examples are the essay and biography.”
So you have a choice of books from which to select your reading material. Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction or do you read both? Millions of titles of these books are out there waiting to be read, and this holiday you have a chance to add to the titles you have already read. 
Let’s look at some of the types of books under each genre of books.

Types of Books

Fiction

There are different types of books in each genre. Under fiction, there is literary fiction and genre fictionCeladon Books provides us with much information about the subgenres of fiction 
First, let's look at literary fiction.  

Literary Fiction

Characteristics of literary fiction

  • Character-driven i.e. any action in the story impacts the main character or characters, and understanding this impact is the whole point of telling the story

  • Tone of book is introspective; it is a study of the human condition and is often an exploration of difficult social or political issues

  • Story structure is not formulaic. A story arc may or may not be present, which also means that a satisfying ending is no guarantee

  • The line between hero and villain is often blurry, as is what they are trying to accomplish.

  • Intangible details — metaphor, symbolism, or imagery, for example — play a large role in telling the story [and interpreting the story].

Examples of recent works of literary fiction

The Vanishing Half  is by Brit Bennett who presents a unique take on the issue of race in the USA through the lives of two sisters. Here is another acclaimed title by Brit Bennett.

American Dirt is by Jeanine Cummins (Oprah Book club pick) and is a story about a Mexican woman and her son who escape Mexico to America and her struggles to survive as an undocumented resident.

 The Girl with the Louding Voice is by Abi Dare and is a fascinating story about the struggles of a Nigerian girl to be somebody.

Thrillers

Characteristics of Thrillers
  • Types of mystery

  • Action-packed and fast-paced with moments full of tension, anxiety, and fear

  • Plot-driven stories

  • Give you just enough information to provide a convincing motive for the characters to act

Examples of thrillers

Devoted is a crime thriller by Dean Koontz and is a story starring a young boy and a dog in a fight to overcome evil. Other books by Dean Koontz are also available for your reading pleasure.

Camino Winds by John Grisham is his latest legal thriller but any of his books will be a compelling read.

Mystery

Characteristics of Mystery
  • An unsolved question and the attempt to answer it

  • Often a crime, but anything inexplicable can inspire a mystery novel

  • Formulaic: something inexplicable happens - a crime, a disappearance, or the impossible arrival of something or someone; an investigation begins; clues and witnesses are gathered; suspects emerge; red herrings or last-minute alibis complicate matters; eventually, there is a break in the case when a previously missing clue is unearthed; finally the mystery is solved; criminal is caught or the disappeared is found or the villains are punished

  • Most times, mysteries are typically told chronologically from beginning to end.

  • Sometimes, the mystery is solved early in the novel, and the rest of the storyline is spent searching for the motive or the criminal.

In mysteries readers want to know the following:

  • Person responsible for the mystery
  • Details of what happened
  • Reason for the mystery
  • That justice is served

Examples of Mystery novels:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a definitive mystery novel by a modern mystery writer but Agatha Christie, though long dead, is still the queen of the mystery novel.

Romance

Characteristics of Romance novels

A romance novel is about a developing romance between a hero and a heroine. Some common characteristics:

  • Conflict challenging the relationship, a conflict which will be overcome by the end of the story

  • Focus is on issues of the courtship 

  • Generally told through the perspective of a woman 

  • Generally follow the moral principle that good behavior is rewarded with unconditional love.

  • Different levels of eroticism

  • Stories have a happy ending

Examples of romance novels

Under Currents is a recent novel by Nora Roberts who is a prolific and engaging author of romance novels. Here are other novels by Nora Roberts.

Horror

Characteristics of Horror novels

According to  C.M. Humphries,  a good horror story is broken down into:

  • Fear
  • Surprise 
  • Suspense 
  • Mystery
  • Spoiler

If you are looking for an adrenaline rush while in the safe confines of your imagination then Stephen King's books are for you.

Stephen King is a well known name in the horror writing business. You may sample his latest novel, If It Bleeds but there are dozens of other books by Stephen King that may satisfy your appetite for horror. You may also check out the work of other authors of horror novels.

Historical Fiction

Characteristics of Historical Fiction
  • Takes readers to a time and place in the past - a minimum of 50 years.

  • Setting is true to the period in which the story takes place

  • The details and the action in the story can be a mix of actual events and ones from the author’s imagination as they fill in the gaps.

  • Characters can be created from the writer's imagination or could be based on real people but everything about the characters reflects the era in which the story takes place.

Examples of Historical Fiction

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a recent attempt at historical fiction. It is criticised by people who know the setting as being under-researched but it is highly acclaimed and will be made into a film soon.

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman is "A Heroic Novel of Survival During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic" and is another example of historical fiction that seems to be an apt choice of reading material during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Fantasy

Fantasy is:

imaginative fiction dependent for effect on strangeness of setting (such as other worlds or times) and of characters (such as supernatural or unnatural beings) and is set in an imaginary world and features the magic of mythical beings

Examples of Fantasy

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is an example of such books. You have a variety of such titles to choose from if Fantasy is your reading material of choice.

Science Fiction is:

a form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals. science fiction usually is set in the future and is based on some aspect of science or technology.

 Examples of Science Fiction 

Here are some titles from which to choose.

Young adult books

As the name suggests, this is a category of books written for young adults. If you are looking for something to read or to gift to a friend, there are many titles from which to choose.

Comedy

If you like to read comedy you may choose one of these titles.

Non-fiction

Memoir

Characteristics of Memoir
  • Narrative, written from the perspective of the author, about an important part of his/her life

  • Subjective but primarily focuses on facts

  • About a pivotal moment in the life of the author

  • Author’s feelings and assumptions are central to the narrative

Examples

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is a good example of a recent memoir that has been highly acclaimed.

Browse other memoirs and choose a title that catches your fancy.

Self-help books

Readership of these types of books has skyrocketed over the years, so if you are one of these readers, there are dozens of titles from which to choose.

Other non-fiction books

There are dozens of books about politics, society, economics, psychology, among other such topics for readers. For example, Barrack Obama's book, A Promised Land, based on his Presidency is one such book.

Conclusion

I know that I have not covered all the subgenres of books out there but I have given you a good start - a range of titles for you, for your friends and for your relatives. Give the gift of reading this holiday season. Remember that reading a book has benefits for your mental and physical health. Start claiming these benefits.

Before you go, spend a few minutes to browse the blog, subscribe to get the latest posts as soon as they are published and do read some of my other reflections.



About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. 

When you are ready to write your story and/or after you have written your story, make contact with her at writingwisdomtree@gmail.com for coaching and editing services, respectively. Check out her books here






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