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The Most Popular Genres in Literature

Updated: May 21, 2019

(Image Source: Reader Corner)

Why is it important to know about the genres of literature? One reason is that your genre is going to dictate what you write and how you write. It’s important to know the style and focus of the literature you are about to write. Nonfiction or fiction, each genre is in its own style, focus, manuscript length, theme, and plots.

Learn the most popular Fiction and Nonfiction genres in literature to perhaps inspire you:

Fictional Genres:

  1. Romance: One of the most popular genres of writing. Romance centers on the romantic relationship of two people. The best focus of this fiction genre is sexual tension between the characters and their desire to be together. Often a fire-works ending, resulting in the characters coming together.

  2. Action/Adventure: Action Adventure stories often put the protagonist in physical danger. This type of genre is often thrilling, courageous, and dangerous. The tension is often fast-paced with a climax offering the reader relief.

  3. Science Fiction: Often taking place in the past, future, or other dimensions, this genre offers scientific ideas. This genre of literature often features high-technological concepts as well. Readers will spend time with the conceptualization of new worlds. This type of world or setting will define the overall plot.

  4. Fantasy: Fantasy genres may involve kingdoms, magic-based concepts, and mythical ideas. This genre of literature often centers on ideas from history, such as The Dark Ages. Writers of this genre will spend much of their time building a world in order to establish the concept.

  5. Young Adult (YA): The YA genre of books are written and published specifically for the target age of 12-18. Adults may also read these books, which are typically coming-of-age type stories.

  6. Horror: The Horror/Paranormal/Ghost genre are typical scary and thrilling stories dealing with the supernatural.

  7. Mystery/Crime: The Mystery/Crime genre centers on solving a mysterious crime or murder type plot. As it unfolds, the questions are answered, identities are revealed, and the crime is solved. Often paired with high-tension as it unfolds.

  8. Suspense/Thriller: In this genre, you will find a character in jeopardy dominating the story. It’s often involving the pursuit and escape of a protagonist. They must fight against the threat either psychologically or physically.

  9. Historical: Historical genres take place in a period backdrop. More often, real-life historical figures are transformed into fictional characters who suit the plot.

  10. Women’s Fiction: In this genre of literature, the plot is often centered around a female character. She will face challenges and difficulties related to a romantic character, society, politics, or religion.

Nonfiction Genres:

  1. Biographies & Memoirs: This genre is often a best-seller. Biographies and memoirs can feature a historical figure. Memoirs are typically written or ghost-written by historical figures, celebrities, or someone who has overcome adversity.

  2. Self-Help: Self-help literature centers on the well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. It can also involve romantic relationships, parenting, and other obstacles that can be overcome with advice.

  3. Health/Fitness: This genre is popular for producing weight-loss, health-eating, and fad-diet type books.

  4. Politics/Social Sciences: Political-Science books are often centered on a historical event or movement.

  5. Cooking: Chefs and food bloggers typically find success in publishing cookbooks.

We have a lot more genres than those in this list, but these are the main types, which can be combined in between. You don’t have to write your books only in one genre, but it helps to have it organized even if only when marketing a book, to know exactly which genre it belongs and what your audience is looking for.

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