You have to know yourself as a reader. Which type of fiction do you lean toward? Knowing the different kinds of fiction can certainly help. I get totally into this—my Master’s thesis being on genre studies. But I’ll save wordy for a doctoral thesis and give you the reader’s perspective.
Realistic or Literary Fiction
These are the books that deal with real life. They’re usually called literary fiction in bookstores, but I also lump in realistic fiction, because that applies better to young adult books. Basically these books focus more on characters and their personal problems over plot. There is a line that divides literary form realistic. Literary can often be very self-absorbed and even be devoid of plot. Realistic fiction typically has some semblance of a problem and resolution.
Some good examples (pulled from my favs) are:
- How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen
- The Wave by Todd Strasser
- Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
These books are defined by their plot structures. Characters can be secondary and will sometimes follow stereotypes. Readers return to these books because we know what to expect. Certain situations and settings reoccur over and over. There are many different types of genres, such as: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Romance, and Mystery.
Some more favs:
- Science Fiction: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Fantasy: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
- Horror: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
This is where things get interesting. Since the 1980s, films had run the gamut of genre and began mashing them up. Books are doing the same. One of the most popular pastiches is paranormal romance (horror and romance). This allows readers who love genre, to mix things up.
Final set of favs:
- Horror + Realistic Fiction: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
- Science Fiction + Fantasy: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
- Fantasy + Realistic Fiction: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Next time you look for a good read, think about the type of read you are. Choose your book based on your tastes. If you have a writing bent, then check out how to write for each genre.