Thoughts

Bookstore Genre vs College Genre

Everything you ever learned about genre is wrong. Since I took my first college-level English class, I encountered a genre that does not mean fantasy, science fiction, or biography. The genres I know from elementary school, libraries and blogging are fantasy, historical fiction, realistic fiction, etc. “Bookstore genre” is what I call that type. In college “genre” is a type of document, i.e. essay, novel, drama, poem.

I promise this has to do with book blogging. I clarify the genre of each book that I read. In this I include bookstore genre as well as audience level (YA or MG) and document type (graphic novel, mostly). Knowing that there are these two definitions, how should I move forward with writing book reviews?

I read books for different age levels, but I mostly stick to YA and MG. I think that needs to be clarified ahead of time rather than only a brief mention in the body of the review. I could have a category for audience. That seems ridiculous for my purpose, so I think I will still throw it in under genre.

For the genre that means document type, I always want to designate when the book is not your typical novel. This could mean a novel in verse, a graphic novel, a script, or an anthology. In the children’s literature course that I am about finished with now, we have indicated this in our reading records as “format.” Since I read many more novels than any other type, is it worth the effort to mark a format every time I review a book? I could write

Format: Novel

for nearly every book review, but that’s unnecessary to me. Perhaps, I could include format for anything other than a novel. Should I differentiate between a bookstore genre and a format?

Have you run into different genre types in your education? What do you think of it? How do you keep it straight in your head? Has this affected how you review books?

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4 thoughts on “Bookstore Genre vs College Genre

  1. Ha! This is quite a quandary. I basically do what you do—I mark the book as MG, YA, NA or Adult as a genre (even though I know this isn’t technically a genre) and then add something like Fantasy, Contemporary, etc. I’ve never heard of the type of writing being a genre—I don’t remember that from my college years (though, admittedly, they were quite awhile ago!). Like you, I would put those more as format, and only include them if it’s something other than a full-length novel.

    1. Every writing class I take emphasizes that novels, essays, poems, and short stories are all different genres. Maybe it is done differently elsewhere, but that is what my university does. I took a literature class that required us to identify the genre of the writing, most of which were short stories or essays.

  2. I had no idea there was another type of genre! But I just basically include everything under genre on my blog. So fantasy/sci-fi/etc., if it’s YA or middle grade, and graphic novel. I know graphic novel isn’t really a genre, but it’s the just easiest way to make sure it’s included. I suppose if I did ever review any other non novel format, I would also just include it in the genre. Oh, and I also title my reviews like, “Book Review: Title by Author” or “Graphic Novel Review: …” So that helps too!

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