I’ve been a writer for a long time, but long before I discovered a love for writing, I was in love with reading. Over the years, my tastes have ranged from the complete works of Jane Austen to picture books to romantic suspense novels by the piles. It’s taken me almost thirty years to really figure out what it is that draws me to certain genres and plot lines, what makes me want some stories and not care for others. Maybe you’re still finding your way through the trillions of books out there. No problem. Let’s look at some genres and what it is about them that might draw a reader to them.
The Classics- There is an idea that reading the classics (the Western Canon) somehow makes you smarter or more studious or more well-read than other readers. This is absolutely false. There are only two kinds of classics readers: those who truly enjoy them and those who are reading them because they think it’s what they’re supposed to read. Burn it down. Reading the classics for enjoyment is wonderful; reading them because those authors are somehow deemed as being the best is a tragedy.
Children’s, MG, & YA- Children’s books are not just for children. They are full of timeless wisdom and are open in their subject matter and their messages. They’re also often full of excitement and adventure, which even adults crave. We must not forget that all reading is good reading and whether you love Charles Dickens or Judy Blume, you’re doing it right.
Literary Fiction- Literary Fiction is a fascinating genre because it’s such a large umbrella. It can include anything from a historical fiction novel about pilots during WWII to a quirky love story about a bookstore owner and her golden retriever. This genre is for people with varying interests and a broad investment in all types of stories.
Romance- The romance genre is often the butt of jokes and ridicule, but romance is a comforting genre. It’s formulaic in the best way and a happy ending is always guaranteed which makes it low stress and extremely enjoyable. For those who read purely for escape from real world issues, romance is a beautiful getaway.
Mystery- It’s interesting that mystery readers and romance readers are often at odds as they have so much in common. The mystery genre is also very formulaic with the real joy being the small differences in the details and the connection to unique characters. Mystery readers love a good hard-boiled detective the way romance readers love their protective, charming heroes.
Sc-fi/Fantasy- I, too, disparage that these two genres are lumped together because while they may have similarities in their world building or their need for suspension of disbelief, the rules in the genres are quite different. Both sci-fi and fantasy however require focus and an investment in a story much larger than something built in a contemporary story which leads to readers becoming more passionate and protective of their worlds, as they’ve spent so much time building the world around themselves. A noble trait.
Nonfiction- Whether it’s self-development or a historical account of the monarchs, nonfiction readers are interested in application. They’re interested in learning, and it’s amazing how far nonfiction stretches that you could read about almost anything. There are books on every subject that could possibly interest a nonfiction reader, and I think that’s pretty cool.
There’s a genre for everyone, but we must be patient with ourselves and with others when tastes change or if tastes are completely different from our own. Read everything, discover what you love, mix it up as often as you want. Just read want you want because you want to.