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The Huge List of Book Genres and Themes

Updated on October 7, 2014

The Basics

Genre is NOT the Form of Publication

Genre should not be confused with the form of writing or type of publication. Written work can be bundled and displayed in different forms. For example, the length of your written piece of writing will determine if you have written a book, novella, short story, and so forth. From there your book can be published as printed pages, an e-boo, or serial (in parts). None of these are Genre.

What is Genre?

Genre can be the main theme, topic, or purpose of your book. It is a label that lets readers recognize what your book has to offer. For the purposes of this article, I will only list the genres recognized by large publishers under the genre section. All other book identifiers will be listed as a theme or topic.

So what are Themes or Topics?

These consist of any other subject or knowledge that your book could relate to, even though it may only play a small part in the story. For example, your historical story may focus on telling a story during World War 1. You can say that the theme is WW1. Similarly, your adventure book may include some real details on rock climbing that were needed for the plot. You can then say your book has a topic of rock climbing because it provides readers information on this subject.

If an entire book is written on a theme or topic, this may be recognized as genre.

Why Does Genre Matter?

Putting your book in a genre allows readers to find your book when they need it. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which genre your book is a part of. Know that you can always place it in more that one category.

Genre: Drama, Thriller, and Fantasy

How to Display Genre

The way genre is displayed depends on where you are displaying it (one a book backing, on a database, or on a book listing) so I can't give you a definite rule, but I can give you a way to organize the information for when it is needed later.

Separately list equally important main genres followed by secondary genres that add detail where needed. Finally, add any related themes after it that may be used to identify your book on some websites or database systems.

The term General can be used if you cannot find a sub genre to use.

Example of Genre and Topic Listing

Main Genre / Secondary Genre / Third Descriptory Genre -- theme, theme

Romance / General

Romance / Historical / General - New York, Artists

Romance / Historical / Medieval

Sci-Fi / Romance - Aliens, Industrial Age


Forms of Publication for Books

Short Story: 1000-8000 words

Novellette: 8000-20,000 words

Novella: 20,000 - 50,000 words

Novel: 50,000 -100,000

Epics: 100,000 words

Chapbook: a collection of poetry approximately 20-30 pages

Source: Fiction Factor

Fiction Genres

Action & Adventure: the main character(s) go on a trip or journey

Alien Contact: involves creatures from space

Allegory: use symbols and metaphor to convey some deeper message

Alternative History: real historical events are given a new outcome

Anthologies or Collection: separate shorter pieces of writing published together

Apocalyptic: involving the end of a world

Post-Apocalyptic: the events that take place after the destruction of a world

Biographical: the character purposefully records their own life and history

Black Humor: makes light of serious events in order to disturb the audience

Classics: recognized as setting a standard or being a quality example of it's type

Comedy: written to make the audience laugh, intended to end happily

Coming of Age: shows the transition from childhood to adulthood

Contemporary: written about the current time

Cozy [Detective]: humor and a naïve community lessen seriousness of crime

Crime: focuses on catching someone who has broken the community law

Cultural Heritage: explores the ancestors of a group of people

Cyberpunk: a run down futuristic world with advanced science and technology

Dark Fantasy: the fanciful elements are meant to cause fear and disgust

Drama: made to get a strong emotional response with exaggerated conflict

Dystopian: takes place in a society full of poverty, fear, and oppression

Espionage: involves spies trying to obtain secret information

Epic: a story taking place over many years and filling three or move books

Erotica: often depicting explicit and intimate sexual relationships

Fairy Tails: lesson teaching stories involving European creatures and magic

Family Life: a story involving the events of everyday life

Family Saga: the everyday living of a family told over a long period of time

Fantasy: imaginary creatures, magic

Folk Tales: passed along though the common people, often by oral tradition

Futuristic: the story takes place in the future

Genetic Engineering: involves scientifically modified plants and animals

Ghost: involves the dead appearing to or influencing the living

Gothic: romance overshadowed by mystery and horror, think old castles

Hard-Boiled [Detective]: unfiltered / unsoftened portrayal of violence and sex

Hard Science Fiction: has detailed and accurate scienc and technical knowledge

Historical: related to real events of the past

Holidays: takes place during a cultural holiday

Horror: created to frighten and disgust readers

Humorous: intended to generate a few laughs, but not always be happy

International Mystery & Crime: a crime that concerns the entire world

Legal: involves laws and court procedures

Legends & Mythology: a fanciful story that is believed to be true

Literary: makes reference to other writing to comment on social/political issues

Magical Realism: magical elements are show in a very real ore belevable way

Mashups: taking old literature and adding your own twists

Media or Television Tie-In: side content based on the original work

Medical: involves doctors and people with diseases, ailments, or disabilities

Mystery & Detective: one person must find the answer to an unsolved event

Noir: a legal / politicaly corrupt world where the lead is victimized / victimizes others

Occult & Supernatural: involves creatures and abilities evolved on our world

Paranormal: involves creatures or abilities beyond our world (ghost & angel)

Parody: a commical imitation of a serious work

Police Procedural: realistically details the investigation methods of the police

Political: relates to events in politics or government

Psychological: focuses on a characters state of mind, often testing sanity

Private Investigators: a detective that is paid directly by clients to investigate

Religious: involving spiritual beliefs

Romance: involves at least two people falling in love and building a relationship

Sagas: a long and detailed report of many peoples lives

Satire: criticizes the mistakes, abuses, and shortcomings of others

Science Fiction (Sci-Fi): involves future science and technology in earth or space

Sea Stories: a large portion takes place on a boat in the open ocean

Space Opera: a romance that occurs in space

Steampunk: involves steam powered inventions

Sports: concerns athletes

Suspense: uses mystery to make the reader anxious to know what comes next

Superheroes: features a character that dedicated themselves to saving others

Technological: involves technology

Thrillers: fast paced, action packed, plot twists, and suspense

Time Travel: characters are scientifically or magically moved through time

Tragedy: involves great loss or misfortune

Urban: takes place in a city where characters feel social influence

Utopian: takes place in an idealized/perfect society

Visionary & Metaphysical: growth of a character's self understanding

War & Military: involves conflict between or within countries

Western: takes place in the old American west with cowboys

Western [contemporary]: in modern time, with elements of western

Source: Bubble Cow


Genre Describing Groups of People

__th Century

Amish & Mennonite

Ancient World

African American

Asian American


Contemporary Women


Hispanic & Latino






Multicultural & Interracial

Native American & Aboriginal

New Adult



Source: Bubble Cow


Forms of Publication for Comics

Comic: published as chapters or issues approximately 6-25 pages in length with a typical page size of 6.6 x 10.25"

Comic Strip: the panels are placed side by side in a strait line

Four Panel Comic: compiled of four panel mini stories or scenes

Graphic Novel: the same size as a written book, approximately 50+ pages, no set page size

Manga: an eastern style comic book approximately 100 pages in length with a typical page size of 5 x 7"

Web Comic: a comic published on the internet

Western Comic and Graphic Novel Book Genres

In addition to the usual book genres, the comic book industry has some exclusive labels of it's own. These are listed here.

Adaptation of the Classics: when a book classic is drawn as a comic

Bad girl art: depicts anti-hero females

Crossover comic: involves characters from another author

Educational: the main purpose is to teach

Foto novella: created with real life pictures

Fumetti neri: a type of Italian comic featuring villainous main characters

Funny animal: cartoons with walking and talking animals

Good girl art: shows attractive young women in skimpy outfits

Metacomic: the characters realize they are living in a comic

Superhero comics: the main characters tries to save society and others

Teen humor comics: depicting teenagers in funny ways

Underground comics: small press or self-published works showing forbidden content (drugs, sex, violence)

Source: Wikipedia


Manga Genres

In addition to the usual book genres, the manga style comic books have some exclusive labels. These are listed here.

Adult: for adults, may contain intense violence and/or graphic sexual content

Doujinshi: fan made work involving characters from their favorite creators

Ecchi: lesser version of hentai where sexuality is exaggerated

Gender Bender: characters cross-dress or transform into the opposite gender

Harem: one male and many females, usually appealing or seductive to the male

Reverse Harem: one female and many males, usually appealing or seductive

Hentai: an adult genre where the focus is on sexual acts

Josei: written for young women 18-30, more realistic and less idealized romance

Lolicon: showing a sexual attraction to young or under-age girls

Martial Arts: involving a specific style of fighting

Mature: 18+, contains violence, blood & gore, sexual content, or strong language

Mecha: involves large robotic machines

School Life: the majority of the story takes place at school

Seinen: written for young men 18 to 25, usually deal with the issues of adulthood

Shotacon: showing a sexual attraction to young or under-age boys

Shoujo: written for females and involving an in-depth romance

Shoujo Ai: less extreme Yuri that involves relationships between women

Shounen: written for males and involve fighting and/or violence

Shounen Ai: less extreme Yaoi that involves relationships between men

Slice of Life: represents day-to-day trials and events that could occur in reality

Smut: considered profane or offensive, particularly in regards to sexual content

Yaoi: involves intimate relationships between men

Yuri: involves intimate relationships between women

Source: BakeUpdates


Themes and Topics

This is a suggested list of themes. Remember a theme is what your book gives the reader knowledge of, real or imaginary.

Themes give your reader more reasons to read your book.




Caste System



















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© 2014 DennyReese


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