Me, elsewhere

Happy Monday, team! Today I’m over at the Oxford Dictionaries blog yammering about genre. Basically it is my considered opinion that literature has genuinely failed us by having so few available filters, and I think the publishing world should do something about it.

In 2013, the most recent year for which we have data, the US, UK, and Canada published over half a million books altogether. Yet of this infinitely categorizable bounty, we’ve apparently only managed to sort books into as many genres as your neighborhood Waterstones has clusters of shelves. I call shenanigans! Why should it be so hard for me to get my fix of YA novels set in boarding schools? Of epistolary fiction of any stripe? Of historical novels set exclusively during the London Blitz?

  • Simon T (

    Yay yay yay yaaaay!

  • You are an Oxford blogger now? Did I miss that? Anyway, great to see you over there!

    • Yes! Hopefully they’ll let me come back and do more posts in future, cause this one was fun!

  • Kristen M.

    I had the beginnings of this thought just the other day when I was at my local indie in the non-fiction section and was looking for a used copy of a specific history book and it was very easy to find because they break history down into very specific shelves both by time and region. And yet fiction? Four big blobs – general, SFF, romance, and mystery. I will now go mumble “yes!” and nod my head as I read your post!

    • Oh my gosh, Kristen, I can’t believe I didn’t even think about the way nonfiction breaks down by time and region. Or maybe I did, and just didn’t end up writing about it in the post? That’s what I’ll tell myself, anyway. :p

  • CoolCurry

    Interesting post! I don’t read enough literary (or “general”) fiction to know much about it and subgenres, but with SFF sometimes it seems like there’s a lack of consensus on what a certain term means and what books qualify. I wrote an entire post about that and “epic fantasy” and I’m contemplating doing a similar one with “urban fantasy.”

    • Oh, that sounds great! Hopefully your urban fantasy post would include some recs? Cause that is a subgenre that I really haven’t spent a lot of time exploring so far!

      • CoolCurry

        It would! I don’t know if/when I’ll actually write it. Possibly when I’m in a stretch where I haven’t been finishing that many books.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    Loved your article! Yes please more subgenres! it would make it so much easier to find clifi, or time travel stories or stories with animals that don’t die horrible deaths.

  • Charlie (The Worm Hole)

    Love it! There’s so much at the moment about not having genres but if we are to have genres, and they do help, more specifics would make it easier.