The Fiction Genres & Recommendations to Get Started Reading

Today's post is a little bit different than normal. I am always looking for new book and author recommendations. So I decided to start a list of book recommendations here on my blog. Below are the most popular fiction genres and a few book recommendations in each category. I've read most of the books recommended, but those I haven't come highly recommended. I hope this section helps you find a new book to read outside your normal reading interests!

Also, please send me suggestions to add to the list. If there is a novel you absolutely love, tell me and I'll add it to the appropriate genre. Happy Reading!

Contemporary / Mainstream

Contemporary or mainstream novels are set in the present with realistic settings and characters. This is a broad category and often, contemporary or mainstream fiction novels fit into at least one other genre.


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson Fight Club: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Literary Fiction

Literary fiction is “serious” fiction and and holds literary merit. They are complex, multilayered novels which wrestle with universal issues. Literary fiction books stand the test of time and win awards for their depth and insight.

New & Old Literary Classics:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Historical Fiction

Like the name suggests, historical fiction are novels set in the past, usually during a significant historical time period. The novel may contain well known historical figures and/or fictional characters. Great historical fiction authors do diligent research to recreate the setting and characters accurately.


The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Novels classified as thrillers are fast paced, intense, and filled with life threatening situations. Usually, the protagonist is in a race against time against powerful villains. Thrillers are filled with cliffhangers and suspense. Sometimes, there is an element mystery in thrillers, but in a thriller, the hero is focused on stopping the villains, not solving the mystery. Also, thrillers are based in action sequences and have larger stakes than mystery novels.

Popular Thriller Series & Authors:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Mystery novels are focused on solving a puzzle of some sorts, usually a crime. During the course of the novel, the protagonist investigates and searches for clues to find the “one who did it.”

Mystery Authors & Series:

Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole Series - starts with The Redbreast In the Woods by Tana French Sherlock Holmes

Science Fiction

Science Fiction is a genre which incorporates current science and technology or future science and technology into the story. Science Fiction operates under the assumption that the science in the novel is based in reality or real science concepts. Often science fiction stretches want we know about science now to create a fictional world based in the future.

Book Recommendations:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams The Passage by Justin Cronin


Fantasy novels involve supernatural forces, magic, and mystical creatures with an imaginary setting. Common fantasy themes include quests for precious objects, rescuing damsels in distress, and battles between good and evil.

Book Recommendations:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


The goal of a horror story is to frighten its readers. Horror novels will use blood and guts, violence, supernatural forces or even psychological suspense to accomplish this goal.

Books to Frighten:

The Shining by Stephen King (or many others by King) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley The Twelve by Justin Cronin


Romance novels revolve around the love story of two people in an exotic setting. Romance novels are dramatic, but always end happy. (The guy gets the girl).

Love Stories:

Anything by Nicholas Sparks The Time Traveler’s Wife Twilight

Chick Lit

Chick lit novels are fun, light-hearted books centered on the modern woman. Sometimes, chick lit includes romantic elements, or it may center on a woman’s relationship with her family, friends or her career. Chick lit novels are great beach reads.


The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Young Adult

Young adult is a genre written for a specific audience, those in adolescence, around the ages of 12-22. The protagonist is always an adolescent. Young adult books deal with themes associated with this age group such as growing up, life transitions, and love. Young adult books also fit into many of other genres. Some of the most popular series in the past decade are young adult books and many adult readers love the young adult genre.

This List could go on and on for me: Harry Potter - My favorite is the 4th in the series. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard The Giver by Lois Lowry The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Graphic Novel

A graphic novel conveys a story to the reader using sequential art. Graphic Novels can be non-fiction, fictional or a series of short stories. I am not an expert in this genre, but here’s some recommendations from those more educated than me in this department.


The Walking Dead:  Compendium One Building Stories by Chris Ware The Hive by Charles Burns Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned Blankets by Craig Thompson


That's it! What did I miss? Let me know below!