This seems like an obvious thing, but a lot of times while in conversation about books and genres we often see people have issues with classifying books in certain genres and usually getting them in the wrong ones. A few genres are repeat offenders. So here’s a quick guide on genres and how you can tell where a book should fall under.
Paranormal Romance can be, but not limited to, urban settings. This means that there is such a thing as Historical Paranormal Romance but the most popular ones you read about are usually set in present time. They feature paranormal beings ranging from vampires, fae, werewolves, etc or perhaps a hybrid of all. Paranormal Romance typically features a different couple in each book and the focus is the HEA and connection between the two characters.
Popular Paranormal Romance series include the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward and the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole.
Urban Fantasy is very similar to Paranormal Romance in that it also features paranormal creatures. However, this has a bigger emphasis on the urban setting. The best indicator of an Urban Fantasy book is when the series follows one or one set of characters throughout the entire series and the focus of the books is not as much on the romance. Romance is usually a small element of these books but takes a secondary place to the world development and overall story arc.
Popular Urban Fantasy series include Kim Harrison’s the Hollows and Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series.
Side Note: There are some series out there that are a hybrid of both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance like Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series and Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress.
The Fantasy genre consists of the most mythology than any other genre and we find this is the one most commonly mistaken. Books from one of the two previous genres we mentioned often end up classified as Fantasy. Fantasy novels are typically long and highly descriptive. They are also (but not always) set in an alternate time or universe that are governed by their own rules. They don’t necessarily feature paranormal creatures of any kind.
Popular Fantasy series include the Captive Prince series by C.S. Pacat and Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey.
LGBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This is a large genre that has many sub genres within it such as Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, Fantasy, etc.
Popular LGBT series include the Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and the THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
Steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction that blends together technology and history. It’s most popular characteristic is its steam-powered machinery.
Popular Steampunk books include the Iron Seas series by MelJean Brooks.
Erotic Romance is a subgenre of Romance that focuses on or emphasizes sex. There’s an age-old question of how does an erotic romance differ from a contemporary romance. Many readers have different parameters by which they measure this. For some is a certain sexual act, if included, crosses over to erotic romance. Others feel is the amount of sex. But the rule of thumb is if the sex is integral enough to the plot and that if it is taken out, the story loses some of its allure, then it’s an erotic romance.
Popular Erotic Romance series include the Rough Riders by Lorelei James and Roni Loren’s Loving on the Edge.
Side Note: There can be various sub genres of Erotic Romance such as Sci Fi Erotic Romance and Paranormal Erotic Romance, etc.
Romantic Suspense has an emphasis on the action and suspense in the plot. Military books often fit under this category. Fast paced and lethal are words that typically describe this genre.
Popular Romantic Suspense series include the One-Eyed Jacks by Cindy Gerard and Killer Instincts by Elle Kennedy.
Contemporary Romance is a love story that occurs in a Contemporary setting, which means takes place in our current world now. It must play by our societal rules.
Popular contemporary romance series include Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis and The Sullivans by Bella Andre.
Sci Fi Romance
Sci Fi Romance is often bunched together with Fantasy (and if you see the description above they’re quite different) but the most telling characteristic of Sci Fi is that it often deals with futuristic science, space, parallel universes or extraterrestrial life.
Popular Sci Fi Romance series include Gini Koch’s Kitty Katt series and Lauren Dane’s Phantom Corps series.
As you can guess, Historical Romance is set in the past. You’ll find lots of Victorian or Highlander fiction in this genre.
Popular Historical Romance series include the Wallflowers and Hathaways by Lisa Kleypas, and Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare.
This is different from Historical Romance in that the focus of this story is not romance. There may not even be any. It is set in the past and it doesn’t have to follow history accurately but it often has a base there.
Popular Historical Fiction novels include The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and America’s First Daughter by Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray
Young Adult and Teen Fiction are synonymous with one another. These books feature young teens from the age fifteen to eighteen or nineteen. While they are mostly targeted for young readers, you can definitely read them even if you’re older. Again, Young Adult can have many subgenres such as Contemporary or Paranormal.
Popular Young Adult series include the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for the contemporary.
New Adult is the newest genre from this list and it’s most telling characteristic is the age range. Consider this the gap between Young Adult and Adult Fiction. It is often angsty (but not always) and typically features first person point of view, and often set during college. It’s all about the coming of age, first experiences such as first love, first time living alone, first time going through heartbreak, etc.
Popular New Adult series include Game On by Kristen Callihan, and most of the work by Colleen Hoover.
This is a subgenre that we see featured in a lot of different books. It can be under an erotic romance, or young adult, as well as romantic suspense, etc. It refers to a world that is often been destroyed by some event and left with bare minimum resources. Life can be unpleasant and tough, and comes with its own set of rules.
Popular Dystopian books include Divergent by Veronica Roth for the young adult genre and the Beyond series by Kit Rocha for erotic romance.
**Note: All the books mentioned in this post are recommended reads by UTC. If you would like to read our reviews, simply use the search bar on the sidebar to find the review you’re looking for.
Did we leave any genre that you want us to clarify out of this list?
Have you classified a book under the wrong genre before?
Let us know in the comments below!