Since Aristotle, man has been busy classifying things. Adam was the classification pioneer (naming the animals), but it was the Greek philosopher who turned it into an art form, an obsession, and an intellectual sport. We've had 2300 years to get better at it, and today a book isn't just a "book": it's a novel, or a treatise, or a poem, or a drama. But it isn't even just a novel, anymore—it's a satire, or historical fiction, or science fiction, or a philosophical novel, or an autobiographical collection of short stories set in a dystopian near-future.
There may be no examples of the last type, but genres (rather than being confusing, as some claim) are invaluable guides to navigating the endless stream of books that flows through our bookstores, libraries, and online distribution centers. For instance, you know just by hearing the phrase "romance novel" there won't be much quality in any section so named, and if the normal romance novel is to be shunned, you can be certain the growing field of paranormal romance fiction will be even more useless.
I will not take this opportunity to describe each and every genre we've included in our selection; that's what the sidebar is for. However, before you dismiss the genre distinctions as useless generic terminology, consider what they can do. If you've just finished a book by Jane Austen, or Tim O'Brien, or Rudyard Kipling, and want to read similar books but don't know where to start, you could start by looking at other books included in their respective genres.
Some of the genres are pretty basic. Obviously, if you want to read poetry you aren't going to look under Novels. Well, you might, but you'd be mostly out of luck. Others, like Epic & Saga, can be much more helpful for more specific searches—our Epic & Saga category includes 42 items; our Literature & Adult Fiction includes 2,397.
Most of the books found here are for older students or adults (though that doesn't mean younger readers can't enjoy most of them as well, as long as you preview and discuss each title with them). For kid-oriented reading, check out our Fiction category. The genres there are even more specific, partly because there are more obvious distinctions beween different kinds of children's literature, and partly because we've spent more time bringing in specifc titles for young readers. That in no way means we've ignored our selection for adults and high schoolers.
In fact, we're pretty proud of it. Not every book is worth reading; we've tried to limit those on our shelf to ones that are. To make it easier for you to find the sort of book you want to read, we've given most of the titles genres. Sure, it's often fun to lazily browse bookstore shelves or websites, but let's face it—somtimes you just need to find the next book that's going to provide your fiction fix, and you don't have time to research the whole broad genre that happens to be your favorite. Reader, we salute you, and offer you: Literature by Genre.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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