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The two types of bookworms

Are you a genre fiction or literary fiction reader?

Raphael Francisco


Published: 11 October 2016, 5:13 PM

In fiction, there are two types of readers; genre readers and literary readers.

Although the two types are not as distinguishable as black and white, they have unique characteristics that set them apart from each other. In the international literature scene, it is a fact that most award-winning authors hail from literary fiction, and not genre fiction.

Does this mean that literary fiction is better than genre fiction? By no means.

In the world of fiction, many fans of literary fiction are known to be snobs because they look down on genre fiction and its ability to reach out to the masses with supposedly sub-par writing.

I certainly beg to differ. I am a huge fan of literary fiction. Writing is an art, and it will always be subjective depending on who reads it.

So, which is better then?

 

There is no need for lit fiction fans to be snobs.
Photo credit: Lenleatherwood.files.wordpress.com

 

Genre fiction encompasses categories like romance, horror, sci-fi, crime, historical fiction, and fantasy. These categories can be further branched out to other sub-genres like young adult, urban fantasy, erotica, and detective fiction.

Genre fiction is considered to be more popular, simply because its stories are plot-driven, and can reach out effectively to the masses. Fantasy books like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling are escapist in nature. People read these books to escape from the rigours of life and to venture out to a whole new world.

 

Books like the Harry Potter series help us to escape from reality.
Photo credit: Flickr via Lauren Ashleigh

 

Other authors, like Nicholas Sparks and John Green, write young adult novels that portray a glamourised idea of love and relationships. While this is attractive to many readers, sometimes these stories can be rather unrealistic and sentimentalised.

However, they are generally easier to understand, and their sky-high popularity among the masses often generates colossal profits for their authors.

Literary fiction, on the other hand, is more complex because its stories are character-driven. Since there are no clear categories in literary fiction, the boundaries are undefinable. While its more popular counterpart flourishes in escapism, literary fiction thrives in unadulterated realism.

Authors like Haruki Murkami, Kurt Vonnegut, and Harper Lee paint a down-to-earth and unromanticised picture of society and its many problems. In this sense, it can be difficult to grasp the entire point of certain plots, and even leave you with an existential crisis after reading them.

To some readers, they may be even dry or boring.

 

Reading a Murakami book is akin to asking for an existential crisis.

 

Point is, the fine line between genre and literary fiction is a blurry one. The argument that literary fiction does not escape reality is a flawed statement, because fiction itself helps one to escape from reality.

At the end of the day, it does not matter what type of reader you are. Different types of fiction are meant to appeal to different types of people, so instead of rambling about which books are better, we should see it from an alternate perspective.

Because all books have the power to inform, to influence, and to inspire.

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