Fantasy fiction features stories set in fanciful, invented worlds or in a legendary, mythic past. The stories themselves are often epics or quests, frequently involving magic. The enormous popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels demonstrates the wide appeal of this genre.
To define a graphic novel, you first have to define comics. A comic, according to ipl.com's graphic novels site, is "sequential visual art, usually with text, that are often told in a series of rectangular panels." A graphic novel is a book-length comic; a single graphic novel can cover a single story, several short stories, or many individual comic strips.
Despite the associations that come with that—collecting superhero comic books or reading the comics in the Sunday paper—graphic novels are much more sophisticated than Superman and Garfield, although superhero comics and collections of newspaper comics both make up a large portion of the graphic novel world. Graphic novels can fall into a wide variety of genres, from fantasy to biography to nonfiction, and can be written for a wide range of age groups. As the format has become more popular, the quality of many publications has soared, leading to graphic novels with excellent stories and spectacular visuals.
Not every heavily illustrated book is a graphic novel; the presence of text bubbles and boxes and of sequential visuals is an important element of graphic novels.
Graphic novels have long been a source of contention for parents, teachers and librarians, many of whom have felt that comics are at best a poor substitute for good literature and at worst are intellectually and morally harmful to the young. In recent years the format has become increasingly accepted and is now found in many public and school library collections; proponents argue that graphic novels help draw in reluctant readers and can be educational. If content is a concern—and graphic novels can indeed vary widely in content—some (though by no means all) publications have ratings.
Historical settings are found in all genres of fiction, from romances, to historical mysteries, to medieval fantasy, to time-travel science fiction.
Many readers come to historical fiction out of a self-conscious desire to immerse themselves in another world, to travel vicariously in time, to imagine themselves in a radically different setting, or to escape present circumstances, however temporarily. Readers come to the historical novel out of a general curiosity about the past as well as out of a more specific interest in the past of their own place, out of a desire to understand how the present came to be, how the group with which they identify has fared, to experience themselves within a larger context of time and human drama.
But what exactly is "historical fiction?" A novel must be written at least fifty years after the events described, or be set in a time before the author's birth; in short, the historical novel is grounded in research, not personal memory of the events depicted.
Genreflecting. Diana Tixier Herald. Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
Horror fiction is, broadly, fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the "horror" experience has often been the intrusion of an evil or, occasionally, misunderstood supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called "horror."
An even narrower use of the term “inspirational” books is applied to Christian fiction. There are “classic” Christian titles such as Pilgrim’s Progress, but the term inspirational fiction as applied to Christian fiction most frequently refers to books that have an evangelical Christian background.
The publishers of these books, such as Bethany House and Zondervan, are usually members of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and belong to the Christian Booksellers Association. Members of these organizations have a publishing code that does not allow profanity or explicit sex. In our library these are the books that most frequently have the inspirational genre label of the dove on the spine. Subgenres include inspirational westerns, mysteries, romances and adventures.
LDS fiction is literature for and about Mormons. Usually, but not always, the novels and stories include references to LDS/Mormon culture and beliefs and feature characters who are LDS. Most of LDS fiction is printed and distributed by publishers marketing to the LDS niche market. These publishers also publish fiction titles that appeal to LDS readers but have no specific LDS references. All fiction titles from these publishers will have the LDS sticker in the Provo City Library fiction collection even if they do not feature LDS characters.
Adapted from "Getting Up to Speed in Literary Fiction" contributed by: David Carr, January 13, 2009. NoveList Plus
Multicultural fiction features authentic cultures, ethnic groups and characters that are new or unfamiliar to the reader. "The term 'multiculturalism' originates in education, springing from recent curriculum changes in the U.S. public schools that give more attention to history and literature from outside of Anglo-Saxon Europe" (Harold Underdown). The diversity of people in the United States and an increased interest in cultures and countries far away has resulted in an ever increasing number of novels and stories being published which authentically represent other cultures and peoples.
Mystery fiction, technically involving stories in which characters try to discover a vital piece of information which is kept hidden till the climax, is now considered by many people almost a synonym for detective fiction. The standard novel stocked in the mystery section of bookstores is a whodunit.
"A romance is a love story in which the central focus is on the development and satisfactory resolution of the love relationship between the two main characters, written in such a way as to provide the reader with some degree of vicarious emotional participation in the courtship process."
Kris Ramsdell, Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre
Science fiction is defined more by setting than by other story elements. With a few exceptions, stories off of Earth or in the future qualifies as science fiction. Within these settings, the conventions of almost any other genre may be used. A sub-genre of science fiction is alternate history where, for some specific reason, the history of the novel deviates from the history of our world. Pavane (1968) by Keith Roberts was an influential early alternate history, Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South a popular example. Of late, alternate history has come in its own as distinct and having an independent existence from science fiction generally.
Teen Fiction is primarily written for children and teenagers ages 12-18 and is also referred to as Young Adult Literature. Teen Fiction includes every genre in adult fiction--science fiction, fantasy, mystery, etc.--but is written for a younger audience and very frequently has a teenage protagonist.
“Today, thrillers provide a rich literary feast embracing a wide variety of worlds—the law, espionage, action-adventure, medicine, police and crime, romance, history, politics, high-tech, religion, and many more. But old or new—and this vibrant field never remains still—all thrillers share certain characteristics. Like Homer trying to keep his audience captive while telling his tale in ancient Greece, thriller authors are constantly aware that their readers want them to provide the sudden rush of emotions: the excitement, suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly, with peaks and lulls, and sometimes as a constant, breakneck pace. By definition if a thriller does not thrill, it is not doing its job.”
Thrillers: 100 Must Reads. ed. David Morrell and Hank Wagner. Oceanview Publishing, 2010.
Usually set in the Western United States from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the 20th Century. They feature the exploits of cowboys, scouts, Indians, gunslingers, and lawmen. Westerns have a mythic feel of the West and those times takes precedence over historical accuracy.
Sometimes called Women’s Fiction and sometimes Women’s Lives and Relationships, these are books that explore the reaches of women’s lives; the dynamics of relationships with family, friends, and lovers; that may end happily, though not always; that examine issues which confront many women, at work or at home.
These books are usually written by women for a female audience. They will deal with problems and real solutions providing the reader a glimpse into how someone else may deal with situations they themselves are facing.