I’m an avid reader but when it comes to book genres, I am mystified. Sometimes books can belong to multiple genres, so I did some research into them. This is what I learned.
Here are some Wikipedia genre descriptions that I’ve found to be helpful:
Adventure is an event or series of events that happens outside the course of the protagonist’s ordinary life, usually accompanied by danger, often by physical action.
Chick Lit or Chick Literature often addresses issues of modern womanhood – from romantic relationships to female friendships to matters in the workplace – in humorous and lighthearted ways.
Contemporary Fiction describes stories set in modern times that don’t bring in any elements of fantasy. It is normally focused on giving people a window into some corner of everyday experience and showing them what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Erotic Fiction deals with sex or sexual themes, generally in a more literary or serious way than the fiction seen in pornographic magazines and sometimes including elements of satire or social criticism.
A Graphic novel is a book made up of comics content.
Historical Fiction is described as a story written at least fifty years after the events described, or a novel set before the middle of the last [20th] century in which the author is writing from research rather than personal experience.
Literary Fiction are fictional works that are deemed to be of “literary merit”, or what is critically considered high quality of writing.
Non-Fiction depicts real historical figures and actual events woven together with fictitious conversations and using the storytelling techniques of fiction.
Suspense is a feeling of fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment.
Psychological Thriller is a story which emphasizes the unstable psychological states of its characters.
Mystery usually involves a mysterious death or a crime to be solved. According to Wikipedia, the central character must be a detective who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction from facts fairly presented to the reader.
Science Fiction (often shortened to SF or sci-fi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.
Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Thrillers generally keep the audience on the “edge of their seats” as the plot builds towards a climax. The cover-up of important information is a common element. Literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, and cliffhangers are used extensively. A thriller is usually a villain-driven plot, whereby he or she presents obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.
Urban Fiction, also known as Street lit or Street Fiction is a literary genre set in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material.
Women’s Fiction is an umbrella term for women centered books that focus on women’s life experience that are marketed to female readers. Note: Men do not have a comparable genre named for them.
I tend to gravitate towards mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and women’s fiction.