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Genre Terms in NoveList

Use our list of genre terms to guide you to your perfect book. Find more information about genre on our website.
 

Romance

The Romance genre offers a wide range of reading experiences. With contemporary and historical settings, featuring realistic and supernatural scenarios, and with sensuality levels ranging from chaste to explicit, there is something for every reader. Regardless of subgenre and subplots, there are two characteristics that all romance novels share: the love story is the central focus, and the lovers are rewarded with a happy ever after for the risks they’ve taken in pursuit of true love.


Category romances: These by-the-book titles written in alignment with the publisher's guidelines for a category or series offer endless variation upon popular themes. Think Harlequin and Mills & Boon. (Adults)  
 
Contemporary romances: Modern love? It's complicated. While varying in tone and sensuality, these romances unfold in a contemporary setting. (Adults, Teens)

Erotic romances: These romances focus on the couple and their sexual chemistry and how that attraction allows
them to find their happy-ever-after -- together, in a romantic relationship. (Adults)    
 
Fantasy romances: Epic quests, battles between good and evil, and lovers who find their fated mates make these
romances magical. (Adults, Teens)

Futuristic romances: Despite elements like space travel or aliens, the protagonists of these futuristic romances face the same obstacles as most couples: making a relationship work. (Adults) 

Georgian romances: These historical romances are set in Great Britain during the reigns of King Georges I-IV and William IV. In a realm rocked by social, political, and economic upheavals, protagonists manage to find safety in each other. (Adults)   
 
Gothic romances: These romances thrive on ambiguity and uncertainty. Protagonists often find themselves in isolated locations only to discover that nothing is quite what it seems and must decide whether to trust their head or their heart. (Adults)  
  
Highland romances: Kilts, clans, lochs, and castles abound in these tales of how Highland lads and lasses, lairds and ladies met and fell in love. (Adults)  
 
Historical romances: Primarily set prior to World War II, historical romances present timeless love stories in their
appropriate social context, whenever and wherever that may be. (Adults, Teens)

Holiday romances: The characters’ relationship in these romances is imbued with the spirit of the holiday season, as they find their match during times when being with the ones we love matters most. (Adults)   

LGBTQIA romances: Love knows no boundaries in these romances, which explore the full spectrum of romantic relationships between two or more characters of any sexual orientation or gender identity. (Adults, Teens)

Medieval romances: Chivalry is not dead. Couples find lasting love in these romances set primarily in Europe during the Middle Ages and feature all the trappings of feudal society -- castles, convents, brave knights, and fair maidens. (Adults)   
  
Multicultural romances: These books establish men and women of color as the heroes and heroines of their own love stories. Protagonists’ heritage and cultural identity are integral to the story. (Adults, Teens)

Paranormal romances: Encompassing a variety of supernatural characters, settings, and plots, the defining element of these stories is a passionate and often eternal love that conquers all obstacles. (Adults, Teens)

Regency romances: These romances are set in Great Britain during the time that the Prince of Wales ruled in his father’s stead. “Prinny” embodied the culture of the aristocracy of the period: bon ton and bon mots. (Adults) 

Romantic suspense: While navigating life-threatening situations, protagonists must also decide whether to check
or unpack their emotional baggage as they determine whom they can trust. (Adults) 
   
Time travel romances: Transported to unfamiliar eras, couples in these romances may be divided by differences in time and geography but are united by love. (Adults) 

Victorian romances: The sun never sets on the British Empire in these romances, which skillfully depict both the lighter and darker sides of the love lives of Queen Victoria’s subjects. (Adults)    

Western romances: These romances capture the best of falling in love in the American West, from the early days of survival on the lawless frontier to the modern embodiment of cowboy culture. (Adults)


 


Science Fiction

Science fiction asks “What if?” and then answers the question. Encompassing a range of locations and timelines, this “literature of ideas” depicts, with varying degrees of realism, the plausible, the improbable, and the seemingly impossible. Whether exploring the farthest reaches of outer space or the intricate workings of the human mind, this genre challenges readers to envision the best -- or worst -- of all possible worlds.


Science fiction: Science fiction is first and foremost a literature of ideas. With varying degrees of realism, Science
fiction depicts the plausible, the improbable, and the seemingly impossible. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Afrofuturism and Afrofantasy: These genre, which bridges both fantasy and science fiction, features people of color in speculative fiction stories.  Afrofuturism reinterprets black identity, the history of Africa, and the African diaspora through a science fictional/hypertechnological lens. Afrofantasy refers to genre fantasy featuring mainly black characters and set in a fantasy version of Africa, a fantasy setting inspired by Africa, or among African diasporic populations encountering magic anywhere. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Alternative histories: "If only..." is the thread that ties together this genre, which examines how even minor alterations to the fabric of spacetime can change the fates of nations or even worlds. (Adults, Teens)

Apocalyptic fiction: It's the end of the world as we know it. Whether it's from zombies, robots, asteroids, or pandemics, civilization is under threat and humanity may not survive. (Adults, Teens)

Cyberpunk: Operating on the fringes of futuristic dystopias, brilliant anti-heroes turn cutting-edge technology
against its corporate masters. (Adults)    

Dystopian fiction: These books feature repressive governments or systems of social control that force individual citizens to question the status quo and challenge the establishment. (Adults, Teens)

Hard science fiction: Extrapolating from our current understanding of the universe, this subgenre puts the science in
science fiction. (Adults)       

Military science fiction: War. What is it good for? Testing out those death rays, for one. Super-soldiers armed with cutting-edge weaponry engage in high-tech combat. (Adults)    
   
Science fantasy: This genre follows Clarke's third law: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Adults)    
 
Science fiction mysteries: Whether pursuing suspects through spacetime or solving crimes that haven't yet been committed, these stories rely on futuristic technologies for conducting investigations. (Adults)    
   
Social science fiction: Less technological and more anthropological than Hard SF, social science fiction examines how
societies and cultures -- human and alien, Earth-bound or space-faring -- operate. (Adults)    

Space opera: Outer space provides endless scope for advanced civilizations to conduct political intrigues and
intergalactic warfare. (Adults)    

Star Trek fiction: Boldly going where no franchise has gone before. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Star Wars fiction: The Force is strong with this franchise. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Steampunk: Stylish retro-futurism evokes the society, politics, and clockwork aesthetics of the Industrial Revolution.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Superhero stories: The stories feature superheroes saving the world through vigilante justice. (Capes optional.)  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)


 


Fantasy

Evoking awe and wonder through dizzying feats of imagination, Fantasy fiction casts a spell on readers, immersing them in a world of magic. Set in alternate realms or realities -- some similar to, some very different than our own -- this genre emphasizes tales of heroism against seemingly insurmountable odds, often climaxing with epic battles between the forces of good and evil.


Fantasy fiction: Welcome to a world of pure imagination: archetypal characters, magical artifacts, arduous
quests, climactic battles, and light vanquishing the darkness. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Animal fantasy: From ordinary farm animals to mice in imaginary kingdoms, these fantasy stories feature anthropomorphic animals as the main characters. (Ages 9-12)

Arthurian fantasy: As the once and future king, Arthur (and his Knights of the Round Table) can appear in any setting or time period. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Asian-influenced fantasy: These titles borrow cultural artifacts (clothing, customs, architecture, language, political systems etc.) from Central, East, and South Asian peoples to build a secondary world setting or that inserts fantasy elements, like magic and mythical creatures, into these regions or into Asian diaspora communities. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Celtic fantasy: These stories are inspired by the history and rich mythological traditions of the Celts, and evoke the
atmosphere and aesthetics of the misty green isles. (Adults)
 
Contemporary fantasy: There's no such thing as "normal" in contemporary fantasy. These stories are located at the intersection of the magical, the mythical, and the mundane. (Adults)
 
Epic fantasy: Heroes rise, empires fall, good and evil battle through it all. These often multi-volume fantasy sagas feature detailed world-building, a sprawling cast, and intricate plotting. (Adults)
  
Fantasy mysteries: Whodunnit? Shapeshifter, wizard, or fae? Supernaturally skilled sleuths round up the usual suspects in these magical mysteries. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Gateway fantasy: Characters stumble into other worlds through magic doors, wardrobes, and other portals to find that magic and adventure await them on the other side. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

High fantasy: With dragons, wizards, and questing heroes, these books fully embrace traditional fantasy storytelling.
They are set in alternate worlds filled with magic and fantastic creatures. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Historical fantasy: These stories feature magic, mythical creatures, and other fantastical elements...in otherwise recognizable historical settings and periods. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Low fantasy: Just a touch of the fantastic adds intrigue to these stories set in the real world. (Ages 9-12)

Middle Eastern-influenced fantasy: These titles feature world-building based on the cultures, myths, or landscape of the North African and West Asian region commonly referred to as the Middle East. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Military fantasy: Battle's magnificently stern array is on full display in these books, which adds magic to already combustible combat situations. (Adults) 
 
Mythological fiction: Gods and goddesses come down from the heavens to meddle in the affairs of mortals in these stories influenced by world mythology. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Paranormal fiction: These books include elements of the supernatural without being particularly scary or romantic. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Sword and sorcery: Holding out for a hero? You might be out of luck. Morally flexible and self-serving, these opportunistic adventurers show readers a swashbuckling good time. (Adults)

Urban fantasy: Starring streetwise protagonists and set in gritty cities, these books feature fast-paced, action-packed plots fueled by supernatural and occult elements.  (Adults, Teens)

Weird Westerns: Oh give me a home, where the sorcerers roam and the gunslinging vampires slay. The West is infused with fantasy and supernatural elements in these stories. (Adults)


 


Horror

Horror fiction draws on the unseen, the unknown, and the uncanny in order to explore -- and expose -- humanity's darkest fears. It provokes a range of visceral reactions in the reader, from the subtle chills of dread evinced by Victorian ghost stories to the adrenaline-laced fear and disgust evoked by contemporary zombie novels. Themes of abjection, monstrosity, and taboo are common.


Horror: Varying in amounts of dread and gore, these unsettling tales aim to scare or shock you into sleeping
with the lights on. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Ghost stories: These spooky stories feature ghosts, poltergeists, and other spirit entities that haunt houses, antagonize characters, and frighten readers. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Historical horror: These tales of horror take place in the past. Atmosphere and setting are key appeals to this
genre and social conventions relating to the era are often explored.  (Adults) 

 
 


Mysteries

Whodunnit? Mysteries are catnip to readers looking for puzzles to solve, no matter the subgenre (like cozies or police procedurals).  They can be character-focused or action-oriented, fast-paced or leisurely; in some cases, the location (or time period) is as much a part of the story as the characters are. Tonally, mysteries can range from punny and humorous to downright disturbing.


Mysteries: Frequently referred to as “whodunnits,” this genre is concerned with the aftermath of a crime. An
investigator, whether professional or amateur, unearths clues to discover the perpetrator and bring justice to the victim. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Cozy mysteries: These popular mysteries typically feature clever amateur sleuths (usually women) with very little
violence. Murders happen off stage, and generally to unlikable people. (Adults)  

Culinary mysteries: Often considered a subset of cozies, these stories are set in culinary establishments: almost always, a caterer, baker, or chef has stumbled across a crime that needs to be solved. (Adults) 
  
Hardboiled fiction: Unsentimental and gritty, these works feature tough, flawed detectives doing their best to solve crimes. Violence is common; danger a frequent companion. (Adults) 
  
Historical mysteries: These mysteries feature crimes set at least 25 years ago; often, the historical eras are vividly depicted, whether it's the 1650s or the 1960s. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Hobby mysteries: Another subset of cozy mysteries, these novels feature details of the amateur detective’s favorite pastime, whether it’s quilting, gardening, antiquing, or finishing crossword puzzles. (Adults)  

Holiday mysteries: Deck the halls…with murder! In these cozy mysteries, the holiday spirit is interrupted by dastardly deeds and our heroes and heroines must solve the case to save the celebration. (Adults)
 
Medieval mysteries: Taking place during Europe’s Middle Ages (476-1492), these mysteries are as likely to depict monks and nuns as they are agents of European royalty. (Adults) 
 
Police procedurals: Filled with the nitty-gritty of a police investigation, these stories commonly offer a fair amount of
suspense; often, the perpetrator’s identity is known to the reader, if not to the police. (Adults) 
 
Supernatural mysteries: You’ve got to take certain paranormal elements into account when solving the crimes central to these mysteries; ghosts, vampires, and witches are just as likely to be P.I.s as perpetrators. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Victorian mysteries: Occurring during Queen Victoria’s time on the British throne, these mysteries take place against a background of peace and prosperity...even as they depict scenes that are anything but peaceful. (Adults)


Thrillers & Suspense

Increasing tension and menace keep Thrillers & Suspense readers on the edge of their seats. In some, protagonists have only a short time to neutralize fatal threats (to themselves or the world), while in others, a more subtle danger is in play. Sometimes, readers may know more about what’s going on than the protagonists do, which amps up the suspense. Anticipation keeps readers hooked and pages flying by.   


Thrillers and suspense: The clock is ticking in these fast-paced, action-packed, and increasingly tense stories, and our protagonists have a limited amount of time to prevent disaster. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Bio-thrillers: In these books, tension is caused by an out-of-ontrol biological agent whose existence has
global implications. (Adults) 

Cyber-thrillers: Artificial intelligence, cyberterrorism, and computer viruses threaten humanity’s very existence in these tense, suspenseful novels. (Adults, Teens)

Financial thrillers: The intrigue and action in these stories is set within a financial or corporate system. Financial details mix with plenty of danger -- for individuals, companies, or countries. (Adults) 

Legal thrillers: Plenty of suspense combines with legal procedural and investigative details in these novels, which are a natural crossover for mystery fans. (Adults) 

Medical thrillers: Watch your blood pressure -- medical professionals are on call in these anxiety-provoking stories, but they are not always the good guys. (Adults) 

Political thrillers: Political corruption and power struggles are often at the center of these ripped-from-the-headlines
thrillers; conspiracy theorists will love having their suspicions confirmed. (Adults) 

Psychological suspense: Less action-packed than other types of suspense stories, these novels offer plenty of chills through elaborately layered plots, unreliable or twisted narrators, and lots of mind games. (Adults, Teens)

Spy fiction: Whether action-packed or more cerebral, these stories employ spies and counter-spies as pawns in
the great game. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Techno-thrillers: Often focusing on an armed conflict between military forces, the technology used in these clashes is just as important as the characters and the plot. (Adults)
 


Crime

Crime fiction thrives on what transpires in the shadows: the seedy underbelly of the big city, the forgotten desperation of small country towns, or even quiet domestic angst that begins to boil over.  The protagonists in these genres are rarely role models; they pursue their objectives by any means at their disposal and often find their primary obstacles in subverting law and civil society.  Readers interested in crime fiction may be drawn to exploration of moral ambiguity, complex characterizations, or vivid descriptions of life outside mainstream society.


Crime fiction: These books focus on the planning or committing of a crime and offer detailed descriptions of the
criminal underworld from the perspectives of those who live in it. (Adults) 

Caper novels: Often starring bumbling would-be thieves, these comic tales feature crimes perpetrated in full
view of the reader in which efforts to succeed are constantly stymied. (Adults)
 
Noir fiction: A dark and moody atmosphere, self-destructive or hopeless characters, and a bleak tone distinguish
these books in which justice often isn’t served. (Adults)
  
Rural noir: Set in rural locations often riddled with poverty and drug addiction, these bleak, often violent novels
feature characters imprisoned by their lack of options, with futures ever-narrowed by bad decisions. (Adults) 
 
Scandinavian crime fiction: Whether mystery or suspense, these dark novels set in Scandinavian and Nordic countries commonly feature flawed protagonists, bleak landscapes, and social and political issues. (Adults)


 


Humor

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go... to the Humor genre! Guffaws, cackles, smirks, and mwahahahas abound in these novels.  While other genres make use of humor, the sole purpose of these stories is to make the reader laugh. Humor ranges in tone, in audience level, and in situations -- from witty dialogue and absurd scenarios to dark humor and sarcastic critiques on society’s flaws.


Black humor: These books invoke the taboo, controversial, and frequently disturbing aspects of existence from an
absurd or ironic perspective. Not for the faint of heart; you’ll laugh, but you’ll feel bad about it. (Adults)

Farcical fiction: This genre places exaggerated characters into improbable, over-the-top situations for comic effect.
Ranging from the charming to the raucous, farce promises lots of laughs. (Adults)

Humorous stories: Lots of books can be funny now and again, but these stories exist to make the reader laugh. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Parodies: These stories are humorous imitations of writers, genres, and cultural touchstones. The tone of these
sendups can range from winking and affectionate to mocking and satirical. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Satirical fiction: These works use humor, sarcasm, or irony to critique society’s flaws -- you’ll find expert purveyors of
mockery and social commentary here. (Adults)


 


Christian

Christian fiction, also known as Inspirational fiction, is written from a Christian worldview.  Across all these subgenres, readers will find popular Christian themes of forgiveness, grace, redemption, and the triumph of good over evil.


Christian fiction: An umbrella genre including a variety of titles reflecting a Christian worldview. Characters
confront challenges and everyday issues by turning to their faith and religious communities for support and guidance. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian adventure stories: These books combine the action-packed, plot-riven narratives of adventure stories with a Christian perspective. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian apocalyptic fiction: Titles in this genre imagine the end of the world as interpreted through a Christian lens. Books may invoke the Antichrist, the rapture, or the final battle between good and evil. (Adults, Teens)

Christian fantasy: Works of fantasy fiction that reflect some part of the Christian perspective through symbolism or allegory. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian historical fiction: This genre offers historical fiction with a strong sense of Christian values. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian historical romances: These romances set in the past focus on a man and a woman who fall in love and undergo a process of spiritual growth that brings them closer to God and one another. (Adults)  

Christian mysteries: In these mysteries, the classic whodunnit plot line is expanded to include elements of faith
and spirituality. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian romances: These romances demonstrate that a strong relationship with God is an essential component
of true love. Couples often undertake a journey of spiritual growth before building a future together. (Adults)  

Christian romantic suspense: The protagonists in these stories encounter situations designed to test their faith but rely on Christian teachings and values to survive and prevail against evil. (Adults)  

Christian science fiction: Exploration of science fiction elements -- such as other planets and alien cultures -- serves  to expand the role that God plays in the universe and his plan for all living things. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Christian suspense: In these tense stories, characters face dangerous situations and derive their strength and endurance through their faith. (Adults, Teens)

Christian urban fiction: In this genre, characters contend with real-orld challenges, like unfaithful spouses, family
problems, poverty, and drugs, overcoming hardship through their faith in God. (Adults, Teens)

Christian Westerns: These stories take place in the nineteenth century American Old West, featuring cowboys, lawmen, and an untamed landscape, all while exemplifying a Christian perspective. (Adults)


 


Fiction A-Z

This category is wide-ranging and inclusive, a smorgasbord that covers everything that doesn’t fit elsewhere, from heartwarming domestic fiction to gritty tales of life on urban streets. Here you’ll find adaptations of classic stories, the classics themselves, novels featuring real-life people, smaller genres like Chick Lit and New Adult, not-really-genres like Coming-of-Age stories, and edgier stuff like Transgressive fiction...and a whole lot more!


Adaptations, retellings, and spin-offs: These books put a spin on some of our favorite stories and characters, whether it's picking up where the story left off or updating the setting to a different time and place. (Adults)  
  
Adventure stories: Swashbuckling, jungles, high seas, plus lions and tigers and bears!  Excitement and the thrill of the
chase are the name of the game for these books. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Autobiographical fiction: The life of the author is the inspiration for these stories. Events may be exaggerated or names changed, but the story will generally stay true to the author’s life. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Biographical fiction: These are fictional works about real people. Authors may take some liberties with details or be
selective in what is included in these stories. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Chick lit: With a sense of style and humor, these books focus on modern women juggling work responsibilities,
looking for love, keeping up with family and friends, and trying to be their best selves. (Adults) 

Classics: These are the books you were assigned (and loved?) in high school. Classics are the books we
return to again and again and which have earned a special place in the literary imagination. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Classics-inspired fiction: Readers who can’t get enough of classic literature will want to read these books that retell, modernize, and continue their favorite stories. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Coming-of-age stories: Character development takes center stage in these stories about young people growing up. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Domestic fiction: Gather around the hearth for fiction focusing on family relationships -- whether functional
or dsyfunctional. (Adults) 
 
Drama lit: Larger-than-life characters make for bold and dramatic storylines. These books focus on intense
relationships within a diverse cast, filled with jealousy, betrayal, and revenge. (Adults) 
  
Erotic fiction: Love need not apply. Erotic fiction is all about that other L-word: Lust. These stories focus on the
satisfaction of sexual curiosity rather than romantic fulfillment. (Adults) 
 
Experimental fiction: This genre prioritizes writing over storytelling. It’s an approach that values taking risks with narrative form, innovating traditional structures, and expanding our perception of the novel. (Adults) 

Fairy tale and folklore-inspired fiction: These stories are steeped in the rich heritage of folk literature from cultures all around the world. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Gentle reads: Books that are easy like Sunday morning -- feel-good and upbeat stories without sex or profanity. (Adults) 
  
Glitz and glamour: These stories -- typically about the romantic, glitzy lives of the rich and famous -- are filled with flashy, larger-than-life characters. (Adults)    

Gothic fiction: In an atmosphere of gloom, suspense, and horror, these books often feature crumbling castles,
haunted places, and complex or disturbing family relationships. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Historical fiction: Step back in time with these stories and read about life from ancient times to the 20th century.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Horse stories: These books are about all things equestrian. Characters often care for horses or are involved
in equestrian sports, but the heart of these stories is the relationship between the characters and these animals.  (Ages 9-12)

Introductory classics: These books use condensed plots and simplified language to provide kids and teens with an
introduction to the literary canon. (Ages 9-12)

LGBTQIA fiction: These books include a plotline with LGBTQIA themes and characters in a central role. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Literary fiction: Literary fiction offers rich, layered, character-riven stories where the writing itself is the star. Fill your NPR totebag with these books. (Adults) 
 
Love stories: Happy endings are not guaranteed in these romantic books. Real life intervenes in unpredictable ways and the scope of the story is broader than the characters' romantic relationship. (Adults, Teens)

Magical realism: This genre blends elements of the fantastic or marvelous with the everyday. This style originated
in Latin America, but has since been emulated by writers all over the world. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Mainstream fiction: These popular books offer a variety of stories about ordinary people's lives written in an
accessible style. (Adults)     

Metafiction: Fiction that is self-aware, whether the author is a character or the characters specifically address
the reader. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Modern classics: If you're looking for exemplary titles written for a contemporary adult audience, try Modern classics.
You'll find William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and other post- World War I authors here. (Adults)  

Modern Westerns: These stories transport the atmosphere of the Old West into modern day, revisiting themes
of justice, revenge, and survival in a more contemporary context. (Adults)  

Mormon fiction: These are titles written for a predominantly Mormon audience and seek to promote Mormon teachings
or exemplify a Mormon way of life. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

New adult: The kids aren't alright...yet. These books feature freshly minted grown-ups navigating the rough terrain of life, love, purpose, and belonging in the wider world beyond home and high school. (Adults)  
   
Picaresque fiction: These episodic novels string together a series of lighthearted adventures, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza battling the windmills of Spain. (Adults)      

Political fiction: It's all about politics here, whether offering a backdrop of social upheavals or war, or talking pigs that think some animals are more equal than others. (Adults) 
 
Psychological fiction: Get into the head of the character! These novels are where the interior thoughts or psychological motivation of the characters drive the story. (Adults, Teens)

Pulp fiction: These melodramatic and sensational titles can be in just about any genre but are unified by the
salacious and pulpy writing style popularized in the 20th century. (Adults)
    
Realistic fiction: These stories concern the everyday lives and conflicts of children and teens living in the present day. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Romantic comedies: Here you find madcap stories about the pursuit of love.  Fun and funny, these books have broad appeal by not taking romance too seriously. (Adults, Teens)

Sea stories: Saltwater in your face and wind in your sails! Stories set on the open sea; yo ho ho a privateer's life for me! (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Shakespeare-inspired fiction: The works of the Bard provide the plotlines and characters for these books. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Southern fiction: Here y'all can find books set below the Mason-Dixon line. Whether in the mountains, farming towns, or a big city, these books encompass what it means to be a Southerner. (Adults)
    
Southern Gothic: From decaying plantations to claustrophobic small towns, these books set in the American South have an underlying tension often stemming from racism, poverty, or class conflict. (Adults)
    
Sports fiction: The play's the thing in these stories set in the world of sports. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Stories told by animals: If you could talk to the animals, you might hear stories like these. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Surrealist fiction: Surrealist fiction embraces the weird and the unexpected, blending the fantastic with the real in
dreamlike prose. (Adults)
    
Survival stories: Whether the danger comes from man or nature, these stories feature life-or-death struggles. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Teen chick lit: Teen and tween girls can be either nice or nasty in these stories about school, dating, friendship,
and popularity. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Transgressive fiction: Pushing buttons and boundaries on everything taboo (think "books that used to be behind the desk"). (Adults)
    
Urban erotica: Here you'll find books that explore sexual relationships, generally between African American characters.  These are no-holds barred, explicit portrayals of sexuality and desire. (Adults)
    
Urban fiction: Set in urban and inner city areas, these gritty titles feature characters engaging in crime or illicit behaviors to survive in a harsh and violent landscape. (Adults, Teens)

War stories: Set during war time, these stories focus on soldiers, war, or military themes. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Westerns: These books evoke the landscape and culture of the Old West: wide open spaces, gunslingers, cowboys, and the quest for justice in a lawless land. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Women's lives and relationships: These character-driven books explore the day-to-day struggles and triumphs of ordinary women who frequently find support in their circle of female friends. (Adults)  

Women's romantic fiction: Often considered old-fashioned, these titles are comfortable, gentle, and broadly romantic, with a mainstream style of writing designed to appeal to women readers. (Adults)


 


Comics & Graphic Novels

Bam! Pow! Splat! Comics and graphic novels refer to a specific format. The terms are commonly used interchangeably and refer to book-length narratives and collections of shorter stories told through sequential art.


Comics (Graphic works): These are sequential art collections that are not necessarily united by a single story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Graphic novels: These works of sequential art are united by an overarching story arc or take place within a continuing narrative. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Light novels: Short in length and often featuring manga-style illustrations, the light novel is a popular style of Japanese serialized fiction. (Teens)

Manga: Comics and graphic novels originating in Japan. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Manhua: Comics and graphic novels originating in China. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Manhwa: Comics and graphic novels originating in Korea. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)



To help find comics and graphic novels with specific genre conventions, there are many corresponding comics headings. You can check these out below.


Action and adventure comics: Fast-paced and full of dashing, daring deeds, these comics thrill their readers. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Alternative comics: Popular since the 1980s and also known as independent comics, these far-ranging comics offer stories beyond those of mainstream comics publishing's superhero narratives. (Adults, Teens)

Apocalyptic comics: Characters in these comics are trying to survive the end of the world. (Adults, Teens)

Crime comics: Criminals and their attempts to evade the law define these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Dystopian comics: The world is an uncertain and corrupt place in these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Fantasy comics: Magic, quests, imaginary kingdoms, and the conflict between good and evil often fill these fantasy comics. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Historical comics: These comics tell stories set in bygone days. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Horror comics: Readers will be frightened by these comics which are filled with dread and/or gore. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Humorous comics: You won't be able to stop laughing while reading these comics. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

LGBTQIA comics: LGBTQIA characters and themes are central in these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Mystery comics: Follow the clues and unravel the mysteries in these comics. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Newspaper comic strips: Now collected into bound volumes, these comic strips were originally published in the funny papers. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Noir comics: Related to the crime and mystery genres, these stylistically bleak and brooding comics portray desperate characters in unforgiving, crime-riddled surroundings. (Adults, Teens)

Paranormal comics: Supernatural characters and settings define these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Romance comics: Fall in love with the characters as their romantic relationships develop in these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Satirical comics: These comics use humor to illustrate and examine the ridiculousness of modern life. (Adults, Teens)

Science fiction comics: Through outer space and futures near and far, these comics ponder the possibilities of the
universe. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Spy comics: Documenting spies and their covert operations are the mission of these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Steampunk comics: Gear up for some gaslight adventures in these comics. (Adults, Teens)

Superhero comics: The most recognizable of the comics genres, these stories tell of the adventures of superheros
and superheroines. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Surrealist comics: These comics fit within the Surrealist fiction genre, but enhance the juxtaposition of incongruous
thoughts and objects with dreamlike and hallucinatory artwork. (Adults)
    
Underground comics: Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, these comics focused on the counterculture scene of the time and flouted the Comics Code Authority of the time by bypassing traditional publishers. (Adults)
    
War comics: These comics present realistic depictions of soldiers and life during wartime. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Webcomics: Now collected into bound volumes, these comics were originally published on the web. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Western comics: These comics are inspired by life in the Old West. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)


 


Library Search Helpers

These headings may not be considered genres in the traditional sense but were created as access points within NoveList so that readers can find these popular books.


Adult books for young adults: These adult books have been dubbed appropriate for and of particular interest to teens by an authoritative review source or an awards body. (Adults)
    
African American fiction: Stories of all sorts, written by African American authors. This heading is always used in conjunction with relevant genre headings. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Australian fiction: These books are written by Australian authors. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Bilingual materials: These stories told in two languages give readers new to English (or to a foreign language) a chance to compare words and sentence structures. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Books for adult new readers: These books are written with straightforward prose and simple vocabulary to help newly literate adults, or those learning English as a second language. (Adults)
    
Books for reluctant readers: Combine this heading with genres, appeal, or subjects to help encourage kids and teens to pick up books they may find interesting. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Books to movies: These books inspired movies. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Books to TV: These books inspired TV shows. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Canadian fiction: These books are written by Canadian authors. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Diary novels: These stories told in diary form allow readers intimate access to characters’ innermost thoughts and feelings. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Epistolary novels: Dear reader, Here you can find stories told by characters corresponding through letters. Yours,
NoveList. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

First person narratives: I personally like to read stories that are written from the point of view of me, myself, and I.   (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Franchise books: Why let a story die when you can continue the tale? These books occur in established universes that originated in non-print media. Think Doctor Who, Halo, or LEGO. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

High interest-low vocabulary books: Easy to read and hard to put down, these books appeal to even reluctant readers.  (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Movie tie-ins: Movies inspired these books. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Multiple perspectives: Readers are given different angles of the story by these books told from multiple characters’ points of view. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

New Zealand fiction: These books are written by New Zealander authors. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Novels in verse: These are novel-length narrative poems. Fewer words, more feelings. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Parallel narratives: These stories have separate storylines unfolding alongside each other until a connection is revealed.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Translations: Here you’ll find books that have been translated from their original language into English. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

TV tie-ins: TV shows inspired these books. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)