Reading Year in Review - Part 4: Genres and subgenres

>> Monday, January 09, 2006

With the increase of genre-bending books, some of which manage to combine quite a number of genres or subgenres, the classification of books into genres and subgenres has become more and more of a headache to me. I've been adding additional categories like crazy, and things have been getting more confusing every year.

I've decided to make some changes for my 2006 spreadsheet (more details here), but for 2005, I'll have to manage with what I have and accumulate the numerous little categories as best I can, so that they make sense.

The downside of changing is that I don't know if I'll be able to compare 2005 and 2006 next year, but I think it will be worth it.

Ok, let's get on with it. Here's the basic distribution, accumulated into bigger groups, of 2004 and 2005:


  • Contemporary Romance: 21%

  • Series Romance: 20%

  • Historical Romance: 31%

  • Futuristic / Alternate Reality / Paranormal Romance: 8%

  • Non-Romance: 19%

  • Contemporary Romance: 34%

  • Series Romance: 20%

  • Historical Romance: 25%

  • Futuristic / Alternate Reality / Paranormal Romance: 8%

  • Non-Romance: 13%
The first obvious conclusion is that I've ramped up my reading of Contemporary Romance considerably, and that the main loser has been Historical Romance. That's not really big news for me, as I've been noticing throughout the year that run-of-the-mill Regency-set historicals (especially those with virginal bluestockings falling for rakes who happen to be spies... i.e. half the books out there) interest me less and less. Non-Romance shows a significant decrease, as well.

Series Romance and Futuristic / Alternate Reality / Paranormal Romance didn't show any changes. The latter does surprise me, because that particular set of subgenres has become quite trendy lately. I would have guessed I'd have read more of them.

Going a bit deeper into each main group now:

Contemporary Romance:

The increase in the the number of plain Contemps (that is, not Romantic Suspense or Chick Lit) is what's responsible for the increase of the whole category. Though I have to say, looking at the actual titles of books shows that some of those are doubtful... in the line between straight Contemp and Rom. Susp and, in some cases, Paranormal Romance. I guess I didn't think those subplots were "big" enough to move the books to those categories, but I'm sure many people wouldn't agree.

Series Romance:

That seems stable. The main line I read in 2005 was apparently Harlequin Blaze, with Silhouette Intimate Moments running far behind in second place. In 2004, I'd read about the same of my top 3 lines: Blaze, SIM and Silhouette Desire.

Historical Romance:

As I said, the number of Regency-set long historicals was what really plummeted. Looking at the titles, I see many of the ones I actually decided to read were books that were reputed to be "different", the exact reason I chose them. Other types of historicals mostly increased: I read more historicals set in exotic locales, more American Historicals, more Westerns, many more Trad Regencies and the same number of Medievals.

Futuristic / Alternate Reality / Paranormal Romance:

While the total number didn't vary, the composition between subgenres did. Futuristics went from being a third of this category to two thirds. Conversely, I read less Fantasy Romance, Paranormal Romance and Science-Fiction Romance.

Non Romance:

The main reason for the fall here was that I didn't read as many mysteries in 2005 as I did in 2004. I read most of Dorothy L. Syers Lord Peter Wimsey series in 2004, and I also reread quite a few Agatha Christie titles. My mystery reading was more varied this past year, though Ngaio Marsh and Kathy Reichs did get a couple of reads each.

I also read more Fiction in 2005, while I read more Erotica in 2004.

To be continued...


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