Understanding The Different Types Of Books

by CJ McDaniel // March 18  

Understanding the different types of books are usually depending on how the author writes them, the subject it entails, and even the audience it targets. Some books aim plainly at the passing of knowledge, and some others aim at pure entertainment. Any given parameters can never judge the reasons we read books as people read for different reasons. An individual’s preference determines the choice of the type of book to read.

There exist very many different types of books. These include novels, textbooks, historical books, science books, math books, books on travel, books on how to do business, cookery books, picture books, poetry books, architecture books, art books, etc. The list is inexhaustible.

Understanding the different types of Books And Genres

Understanding the different types of books requires knowledge of different book genres. Generally, all types of books can usually fit into the genres of fiction and nonfiction. Fiction books entail books that the author writes out of pure creativity. They are books that do not rely on actual life events. On the other hand, nonfiction books involve all books that exist based on real-life events and experiences.

Books are also categorized based on their looks and not just based on their content. Examples of these are paperback books and hardcover books. Here, books are ranked based on their physical features and look.

For this article, we will be discussing and will try to understand the different types of books based on their content.

Understanding the different types of books: Adventure And Action Book 

Adventure is a widely sought genre. Books that fall into this category have a storyline that involves a fantasy setting, something in the past, something futuristic, or even a present-day land.

Sometimes, adventure books involve scavenger hunts of tasks, spaceship runs, deep retrospect into history and magic, and so on. These adventure and action books leave their readers in excitement and leave an agitation for their readers. Adventure books are usually fun for the writer to write, and it has a quick market too.

Adventure propels the main character to action. The main character’s action in response to the story’s danger and affects the book’s overall storyline. These must happen for the book to qualify as an adventure and action book. Examples of adventure action books are: “The three musketeers,” The call of the wind,” “Life of Pi,” etc.

Understanding the different types of books: Characteristics of adventure books

They usually flow from an expected action to the unexpected. It usually begins with an ordinary, familiar setting and then moves on to unexpected, abstract settings. Any book with a regular, logical, expected flow of events cannot be called an adventurous action book. An adventure book could be anything except normal.

Understanding the different types of books: Adventure books contain risks in them. 

There is always a feel of the risk presented in adventurous action books for the readers to feel. Without risks, even though the book contains the most unexpected events, it will be void of thrill and would not qualify as adventurous. The sense of danger adventurous books present makes it adventurous and full of action.

In adventure action, the risk level usually heightens as the story proceeds. And also in response to the action of the characters.

The adventure propels action from the main character. The main character, in response to the danger in the story, reacts. The action then influences the story. It then works as a two-way thing where the storyline affects the main character, and the main character affects the storyline. When this does not happen, you most certainly cannot say it is an adventure action book.

Classic Books:

Classics are those books that contain revered experiences for their readers. These books usually have a special influence on their readers. They are typically books you want to read again and again. Rereading these books also leaves a fresh discovery like it’s the first time.

A classic book is a name that we call books that the writer wrote to represent the whole universe. Classic books are usually books with age-long existence. They are those that had a record-breaking storyline as at when they were initially published.

They are generally widely read and known too. Though these books are usually old in terms of their existence, they retain impact for generations and constantly have an audience. They also serve as the bedrock of many contemporary books we have around today. Examples of classic books are Beloved by Toni Morrison, The pilgrims’ progress by John Buyan, To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee, and so on.

Detective And Mystery Books:

Mystery and detective books have a plot of a crime like murder, kidnapping, or disappearance. The books always involve the moment the crime is committed to the moment it gets solved. Mystery and detective books are also sometimes called Whodunnits.

We call them the name because they tend to make the readers take the position of becoming detectives and figuring out the whole event. Writers of mystery and detective books always face the challenge of revealing a specific piece of information as they go on in its writing.

It happens because the writer is particular about leaving the readers interested until the main events unfold. Most mystery detective books involve a spy or special detective whose primary role is to solve the case. This character is usually the main character in the book.

Examples of mystery and detective books are Sherlock Holmes’s adventure by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, The girl with the dragon tattoo by Stieg Larsson, etc.

Graphic Books Or Comic Books:

Graphic novels and comic books usually contain stories presented to the reader with interesting, step-by-step narrative art. These types of books express stories through art. Graphic novels and comic books are typically almost the same, except that comic books are shorter than graphic novels.

Examples of graphic books and comic books are Fun home: a family tragicomic, written by Alison Bechdel, American-born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse by Charlie Mockery.

Historical Fiction Book:

These books contain imaginative storylines of events that happened in the past. Also, it has its setting as a place in the past and the story in ancient times. The author creates a historically accurate work of fiction.

The plot, setting, characters, and every component of the book align with old times. Examples of historical fiction books are Roots: the saga of an American family, The book of negros by Lawrence Hill, A place of more excellent safety by Hilary Mantel.

Fantasy Books:

Fantasy books are typically about magic or other abstract, supernatural phenomenon. The plot and setting are usually supernatural. It often features mythological and magical characters. It sometimes also involves creatures who are not human beings. Creatures like goblins, elves, dwarfs, fantasy is a vast and ever-evolving genre. It straddles between many different sub-genres.

Fantasy books can further fall into groups like Epic Fantasy, High fantasy, Dark fantasy, Steampunk, Grimdark, Arcanepunk, Historical fantasy, Urban fantasy.

Examples of fantasy books are included, The fellowship of the ring by J.R.R Tolkien, the game of thrones, The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S Lewis, Harry Potter by J.K Rowling.

Horror Books:

Horror books can make their readers scared and frightened. It startles its readers and leaves them with a feeling of horror and terror. Horror books are usually fictitious prose that shocks and frightens their readers.

It generally leaves an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror books incite the emotion of their readers. Also, horror books portray intense moods, emotions, settings, and tone. These come together to produce a sense of heightened disgust and fright. They are sometimes a little bit too realistic.

Examples of horror books are Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The haunting of hill house by Shirley Jackson.

Other horror book genres include; Comedy horror, Gothic horror, Love crafting horror, Paranormal horror, Post-apocalyptic horror, Psychological horror, Maniacs, slashers, and serial killers, Sci-fi horror, and Supernatural horror.

Literary Fiction Books:

It is a vast genre as it contains so many others. Literary fiction is about the writing style of the author. This literary fiction prose has to evoke deep thinking by stories which present personal or societal perspective about a particular subject.

Literary fiction books concern themselves with character development, complexity, and the writer’s writing structure. Literary fiction books can be very dicey to recognize. It is so because they sometimes run into other types of books.

Literary books are known for their excellent and complex artistic writing qualities and also the storyline. It is, however, sometimes difficult to classify a book as literary fiction. Examples of literary fiction books are 1984 by George Orwell, Of mice and men by John Steinbeck, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Romance Books:

Romance books are typically books that incite an erotic, love feeling. The plot of these types of books is a romantic relationship between two people. They are usually fictitious. The general belief is that women make up the majority of romance book readers.

Some romance books do not even contain a distinct storyline but only involve romantic sexual representations. Romance books usually leave the heart warm. Examples of romance books are Fifty shades of grey by E.L James, Pride, and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Romance books can have categories in other subgenres: Historical Romance, Contemporary romance, Steamier erotica, Paranormal romance, etc.

Science Fiction:

Some consider science fiction to be the same as fantasy. Though related, science fiction is different from fantasy books. We abbreviate Science fiction as sci-fi. It is a book whose subject is basically about technology and futuristic science.

It is one of the most creative genres of books. Science fiction books typically have storylines that present the galaxies, underwater world, and every other abstract science and technology.

It involves space travel, time travel, time travel, super-intelligent robots. Also, it includes computers, alternate histories, parallel universe, exploration, aliens. Others are extraterrestrial creatures, teleportation, mind control, interplanetary war.

It also explores the possible future consequences of scientific development and advancement. The characters always involve creatures from other worlds. It is a genre of imaginative fiction where the writer presents to the readers imagined scientific elements that are not in existence in the real world. Having this knowledge is also a requirement in understanding the different types of books.

Science fiction is in two broad categories. We have soft science fiction and hard science fiction. Other subgenres of science fiction are:

  • Fantasy science fiction.
  • Supernatural science fiction.
  • Utopian science fiction.
  • Dystopian science fiction.
  • Space opera science fiction.
  • Space Western science fiction.
  • Cyberpunk science fiction.
  • Steampunk science fiction.

Examples of science fiction books are The war of the worlds by H.G. Wells, 2001: a space odyssey by Arthur C.Clarke, The handmaid’s tale by Margaret Artwood.

Short Storybooks:

Short story books can belong to so many other genres as well. They are usually very brief prose books. Short story books are way smaller than a regular novel. Writers of short story books tell their stories using a particular subject.

They do this, using very few scenes. Short story books typically fall within the range of 5000 to 10,000-word count. Examples of short storybooks are The lottery by Shirley Jackson, The thing around your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A manual for cleaning women by Lucia Berlin.

Thriller And Suspense Books:

Thriller and suspense books usually focus on the fear of a crime event that is yet to happen in the book. Thriller and suspense books generally reveal a bad character way early enough into the book and leave the main character to stop the evil that should happen.

It builds up suspense and thrills the readers of the book. The main character does not just aim to prevent evil from being done by the villain, but he also seeks to destroy him to save his own life. Thrillers make use of deception and cliffhangers to introduce suspense.

Some sub-genres of thriller and suspense books are Horror thriller and suspense, psychological thriller and suspense, Legal thriller and suspense, Epic thriller and suspense.

Examples of thriller and suspense books are The girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The silence of Thomas Harris’s lambs, The last sister by Kendra Elliot.

Women’s Fiction Books:

Women fiction is a general term for books that centers on the female gender. Its focus is on life and experiences peculiar to women. Its readers are usually women. Women’s fiction books are, however, different from women’s writings.

Women’s writings are books written by women. Women fiction, on the other hand, is written for women and about women. Women’s fiction books could also cut across many different types of books.

Examples of women fiction books include Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner when we believed in mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, The wedding game by Meghan Quinn.

Autobiography And Biography Books:

Biography and autobiography books belong to the genre of nonfiction. These books usually center on the true-life story of a specific subject. Biographies are in the third person about someone who is not the writer of the book.

Autobiographies are written by the person, considered the subject. Autobiographies are by compulsion written by someone who is still alive at the time of the writing; biographies may involve people who have died or are still alive.

Biographies and autobiographies serve as official, detailed accounts of a person’s life. Elon Musk once said that he likes to read biographies more than any genre of books. The belief is that it is one of the books to delight in reading if you intend to be great.

Readers of biographies and autobiographies can learn from the real-life mistakes of the subject, learn about the cause-and-effect rule that guides the world, and generally learn some real-life principles from the lives of the subjects in the book.

Examples of biography and autobiography books are Becoming by Michelle Obama, Long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela, A promised Land by Barack Obama, I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by Taliban by Christiana Lamb.


Chefs and cooking professionals traditionally write these types of books. They usually contain a collection of recipes. Cookbooks are also sometimes called cookery books. It usually includes essential information and instructions on how to prepare specific cuisines. It also gives information on how to serve food and presents them.

Cookery books fall into the genre of nonfiction. An example of a cookbook is The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith.

Essay Books:

The typical writing of these books is in the first person. Writers write using their own experiences to produce a subject that makes up the storyline. Essays usually include various stories, poems, articles, and varying topics. Essays are traditionally not so long.

They could be fictitious or real. Essays can be about general knowledge and existing ideas, and they could be about imaginary pictures.

Examples of essay books are: Men explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit, Me talk pretty one day by David Sedaris, Notes of a native son by James Baldwin.

Essay books fall into four groups. They are Narrative essay books, Descriptive essay books, Expository essay books, Argumentative essay books.

History Books:

History books relate to books about a specific period in history. The primary purpose of history books is to educate its readers. It gives information about the world at a particular time in the past. History books are usually nonfiction.

They talk about things that are known to have happened in the past. History books can be about the culture, politics, religion, or any other item of a particular age. The Christian’s Holy Bible contains 12 history books.

History is very important for any people. History books help us to preserve traditions and also norms and cultures. An example of history books is SPQR: a history of ancient Rome by Mary Beard.

Memoir Books:

Memoir books are quite synonymous with autobiographies. Memoirs, unlike autobiographies, however, concentrate on a particular period in the writer’s life. It does not give an extensive account of the subject’s life, but it focuses on a specific moment.

Memoirs aim to pass a lesson to the readers about the writer’s life. This category of books is always nonfiction. Memoirs sometimes feature word counts that are almost like that of a novel. Typically, they usually range from 60,000 to 80,000 words.

Memoirs usually are about the writer’s inner story that one can relate to universally. Examples of memoir books are Angela’s ashes by Frank McCourt, The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion, Eat, pray, love: one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia, written by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Poetry Books:

One can consider poetry books as written art. You write them in a particularly unique pattern and rhythm. Also, the writing style usually depicts certain ideas and moods. The meaning of some poetry is easy to understand, while the meaning of some others is not easy to describe.

Some others hide their meaning in an underlying play of words. Poetry books run through very vast subjects, and they are as old as history books. An example of poetry books is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

Self-Help Books:

Self-help books can center on varying topics and themes. Self-help books can be on finances, spirituality, emotional wellbeing, and many other various subjects. Self-help books aim at encouraging personal development and boosting self-confidence in every area of life.

Examples of self-help books are The seven habits of highly effective people written by Stephen. R. Covey. Another one is How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie, and The subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson.

True Crime Books:

This particular category of books talks about real-life crime events that happened. They are always nonfiction. They discuss the details about a popular murder, kidnapping, or serial killing case. Examples of true crime books are, In cold blood by Truman Capote, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

Understanding the different types of books: Conclusion

Books are in broad categories of fiction and nonfiction. These categories of books can are in groups of twenty types discussed above. These types also sometimes have other subgenres. It’s also crucial to note that many books cross between various categories and comfortably fit into more than one classification. So, is understanding the different types of books easier now?

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!