What to Read: Three Different Categories of Fiction

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:

Genre
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:

Genre Pastiche
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.

Tim Kane

How Do You Find a Good Book to Read in the eBook Age?

Some folk lament the fact that physical bookstores, with their collections of paper and glue, are vanishing. Heck, my city has only one bookstore. I relate. I love wandering the aisles of the bookstores, just picking something up and giving it a page through. But I’ll tell you a secret. Often, the books I pick up and then buy from a bookstore are not the ones I really love. I’ve been disappointed more than once.

What I do relish in bookstores are the recommendations by the employees. These people have read and loved these books and want you to read them too. Ignore the tables with the covers all facing up. The book placement there is often paid for by the publisher.

Alfred Hitchcock enjoying Tom Prideaux’s Love or Nothing: The Life and Times of Ellen Terry.

You can get that same sort of recommendation in the digital age. Often, I look up a book I’ve already read and loved on Amazon. Then I see what else the site recommends. Or I ask my reading friends (on Facebook or Twitter). The best part, I can download a sample of the ebook and read enough to get hooked (or bored).

The final resource for book hunters is book blogs. Check out these three blogs to help find your next read.

SPA Middle School Blog: This site shows recommendations from actual seventh and eight graders. Awesome to know I have similar tastes.

Young Adult Books Central Blog: This place is massive. It reviews books as well as tracks reader reviews. You can sort books in many ways with plenty to choose from.

We Need Reads Blog: A great review blog by a pair of avid readers. Their review of Speak says it all.

Tim Kane

Gift Wrap the Wrapping?

I recently bought a Nook for my mom on Mother’s Day. I was pleased with the product, so I thought, why not. Mom’s an avid reader. This could bring her into the 21st century. As an impulse, I opted to also purchase the gift bag. It was a whopping one cent.

The green bag on the left was the one I ordered. It was gift wrapped, not the actual Nook.

You should know that Mom loves gift bags. It’s her wrapping of choice. Every Xmas as a kid, I was tasked with wrapping all the gifts (except my own) because I was mathematically minded about the wrapping paper. I could literally wrap anything. Mom isn’t as spatially inclined. When she wraps, it’s in a bag with tissue paper.

Now, back to the Nook. As I was checking out, I clicked the “gift wrapping” option. It cost only $3.50 and I figured it might look nice and save some time.

So get the Nook in the mail a few days later. No wrapping, but honestly I was too excited about setting it up, I hardly noticed. Then the gift bag arrived later and, you guessed it, it was gift wrapped. Really Barnes and Noble? That’s what you thought I meant by gift wrapping?

It bugged me enough that I emailed the complaint department, asking for a refund on the price of the gift wrapping. Here is their standard response.

Thanks for contacting us. You should receive a response within 12 to 24 
hours, and we appreciate your patience.

A week went by. I sent an email back asking, facetiously, if they meant 12-24 hours or days. This got an email back:

Thank you for contacting Barnes & Noble regarding the order #XXXXXXXXX. 

The order was shipped on 05/07/2012. The carrier's tracking detail shows
that it was delivered as follows: 

Delivered On:
Wednesday,  05/09/2012 at 5:36 P.M. 
Left At:
Front Door

Of course it was delivered. How else would I know that you gift wrapped the bag? Seriously. If not for the meagerness of the cost in question, I’d pursue this farther. Though being a big corporation, I doubt I’d make any traction. This is where I have to give Amazon props. A few years ago, I was given two of the same gift. I was able to successfully return one to Amazon and get a credit.

I’m still waiting for my $3.50 back on the botched gift wrap.

Tim Kane

Life Without Amazon

My New Years’ resolution is to shop, as often as possible, away from Amazon. Why? As an author, I’ve noticed some less than savory practices from this corporate giant lately. It seems that the fellas over at the longest river bookstore are leveraging their power to crush and manipulate consumers and authors.

Amazon launched its KDP Select program for authors selling ebooks through its site. They threw out offers like a $500,000 pool of cash. Also a monthly income of $7,500. It all sounds great until you read the fine print. By signing up, the author cannot sell his/her book anywhere else (including a personal website). Also this pool of cash is based on the percentage of sales of all ebooks that month. So, unless you’re a top ten author, your take could easily be pennies. Plus, you’ve cut off any sales from other websites. Add to that the fact that Amazon has moved the link to opt out and you’ve got a massive ebook collection for them and a lot of starving writers.

Now, let’s look at Amazon’s price check app. This little goodie was a one day rollout where customers were encouraged to enter a brick and mortar store, take a picture of a product, and then buy it through Amazon. The incentive…?  Amazon gave customers a $5 price break.

As both a customer and a writer I was maddened. Yet, why did I continue to shop Amazon? Mostly, it boiled down to laziness. Amazon’s site was just so easy to use. I made it a priority to branch out. Inconvenience myself a little bit.

Fist off, books. I admit, I had already downloaded some ebooks through the kindle app. Loved it. But it turns out there are plenty of other sites out there willing to sell an ebook. I just bought a Nook and I have to say, the reading experience is superior. For dead-tree-books, I have to rely on the Barnes and Noble chain (as it’s the only bookstore in my city).

Then came the wish list. Now I tried other sites like wishlistr. Frankly they sucked. Amazon simply has the best wish list. Even Barnes and Noble was cumbersome to use. So I decided to work in reverse. I’ll keep my lists up in Amazon, but buy from other stores. I use the wish list mostly as a bookmark anyway.

So if you’re trying to quit Amazon, it is possible. Yeah, you might pay a bit more. Plus you’ll have to say toodle loo to the $25 free shipping. No one said supporting authors would be easy.

Tim Kane