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I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've tried to do some Googling and using Wikipedia and such. I was wondering about some book genres (and in a similar way one can think about film genres as well).

 

I don't quite understand the way book shops or websites or people categorise books sometimes. It seems not everyone uses the same 'system'. I know I use something different from most people.

 

For example, I've read that for a book to be classified as 'historical fiction' it has to be written in a different time period than the one the story takes place in (that's just how I prefer to classify my books). For me, I classify anything taking place before ~1985, on Earth, and that isn't what I call 'literature', I call that historical fiction.

 

What I call 'literature' is what some people call 'classics' and some Dutch literature (where conveniently it says it is on the cover, such as literary thriller: literaire thriller). But I also have 'contemporary fiction', which is fiction taking place after 1985 but not too far into the future and that isn't romancy but that has more depth to it. 'Chick-lit' are romancy and love type stories, as well as sort of girly fun stories about friendship and such. 'Science-fiction' are stories taking place in the future for me, including stories about aliens, space travel, space ships, multiple planets, dystopians and post-apocalyptic. 'Fantasy' is a story with magical elements, often though not always, taking place on a world different from our own. Some people call stories with vampires and werewolves 'urban fantasy', and there's also 'high fantasy'. I call stories with vampires and werewolves and such (or ghosts etc.), 'paranormal'.

 

Classifying things with contemporary and historical, is doing things based on time period the story takes place in.

 

In some British book shops I've been in, 'young adult' is used as a genre (it's on the sign, just like 'science-fiction & fantasy' for example. To me, young-adult isn't a genre. It's an age-range. Within the young-adult age range, the book can be any genre, it can be a dystopian like The Hunger Games or it can be something contemporary such as The Fault in Our Stars. To say they are both the same genre, makes no sense to me. That's like saying there are only a couple of book genres, adult, young-adult, children (or middle-grade, toddlers, whatever).

 

Just like 'comic' or 'manga', I consider that a book format, a way to tell the story. Within comics, or manga, or graphic novels, there's a wide variety of stories to be found. That would be like putting all the books without pictures, 'text'books as I call them, in one catagory too.

 

When is something literary fiction? And why is for example fantasy hardly ever literary? Who decides what has literary value, and who decides what has value for another person? Why are certain genres seen as 'better' than others, and why are there snobs? Why do I feel embarrassed about reading certain books in a public location? Why would there be anything wrong with me reading anything, any book, including something that's below my age range or above my age range or with or without pictures, and more or less complicated, more or less fantastical.

 

A genre is way of classifying books, but within a genre there are still a lot of differences between books. Some books have elements from multiple 'genres'. You could totally have a book with magic and futuristic laser pistols and space ships, that has some deep thoughts on the meaning of life in it.

 

Anyway, just some musings. I hope this wasn't too rambly for anyone.

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I'm a bit busy at the moment, but wanted to say that there's been a twitter discussion going on today about classing YA as a genre. :)

 

It's a good discussion, and I'm sure there will be lots of views. :)

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That's nice to hear :). Do you know how I could search for that, is there a hashtag used, or which Twitter accounts are involved? So I can read bits of it :).

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I don't think there is a hashtag, but I think it started because of this blog post from author Marcus Sedgwick.  I've seen responses from @Patrick_Ness and @NonPratt.

Thanks, Claire :). That's an interesting post.

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I think the assumption is that YA is a genre in bookshops.  It's not.  All they're doing is allocating a section of bookshelves for books that are aimed at a particular age range.  They don't have infinite space, and to subcategorise the limited number of books in that section probably wouldn't make sense and would make it harder to find a particular book if you were looking for it.  They're basically trying to help children, teenagers and parents know which age range books are aimed at.  I think it's actually better they don't then split them into separate categories, and the wider the range of books that are read as a child or teenager, they'll be able to find out more about what books they like to read, and will hopefully carry through to their adulthood.  Personally, I have no problem with books in the a bookshop being categorised as just YA, as it's means I can browse through all styles and genres in the same space.  

 

For all other books, most of the bookshops now have separate sections for fiction, crime, fantasy, science fiction and classics, possibly historical fiction, but that's rarer.  I'm sure that's because they believe that most people tend to stick to one type of book and don't want to have to sift through everything else to find what they want.  The book shops have not said these are genres, but have shelved them based on what they are told by the publishers.  Personally, I would prefer to have just one big fiction section for everything that isn't for children or teens.  This way, I'd be able to find anything I wanted based on authors name, without having to worry about where the publishers/bookshop have decided it fits into a category.  But, I can see why they think it helps people to know what type of book they are getting, as some might not realise from a blurb whether some books is fantasy or science fiction or crime, and are in the end disappointed with the book they've bought.

 

When it comes to how books are reviewed and discussed, genre does become more important … at least to publishers, reviewers (as in professional media reviewers) and the various awards and prize panels of judges.  There is still a very snobbish view of books, and a feeling that some authors and their books are more worthy than others, and they don't want to be lumped in with the rest of the masses.  There's a perception that literary fiction has more merit, and has a higher literary value than other "general" fiction, and also the assumption that literary fiction published today, will stand the test of time and become a classic in the future.

 

There are no hard and fast rules for what genre books fit into, it's subject to argument and at the end of the day, it's up to the individual to decide where they categorise their own books.

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When it comes to bookshops, I don't generally have a problem with books being categorised. As long as I can find what I'm looking for in the shop, I'm happy. I must admit, there was something I saw the last time I was in Waterstones, in the crime section. There was a sub-section called something like " cosy crime" (I forget the exact name, but it was something along those lines). It basically consisted on Agatha Christie type crime books.

 

I suppose if that's what you were after, you'd be very happy to find a whole shelf full, and it certainly made me go over and take a look.

 

Of course, when it comes to your own, personal way of sorting books - well that's no business of anyone but yourself!

Edited by ian

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I was under the impression that YA encompassed all genres, so making it a genre in it's own right is going to lead to confusion, isn't it?

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Shops around here generally have a young adult/children section, with books separated according to age range, but not genre.

 

It can definitely be confusing working out how a bookshop has arranged its books. I tend to make sure I look at everything (or at least check all of the genre labels on the shelves) to make sure I haven't missed anything.

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It can definitely be confusing working out how a bookshop has arranged its books. I tend to buy everything to make sure I haven't missed anything.

 

^ Fixed.

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Stop doing that to me! :P

 

(I shouldn't encourage you, but it did make me  :giggle: a bit.)

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