2006 Reading Year in Review - Part 4: Genres and subgenres

>> Friday, January 05, 2007

Classifying books into genres has been getting harder and harder, and that goes double for romance. I used to have a straighforward classification, but last year, I decided to add a new column to my spreadsheet. I now track both setting and "type" (like, sure the setting is contemporary, but is it romantic suspense? Is it erotica? Is it plain fiction? Is it chick lit? Is it plain, no-frills romance?).

Looking back at this year, it turns out my favourite setting seems to be contemporary, which accounted for 55% of my reads in 2006 (keep in mind this doesn't just include contemporary romance, but also such other types of fiction, like mystery, erotica, paranormals, YA, and even one non fiction book, a travelogue).

It was followed by Historical settings, with 29%.

As for types, the most common was "straight romance", which is a bad name, I know, since it actually includes some gay romances *g*. By "straight romance", I mean romance that is not romantic suspense (if there is a suspense subplot it's not a huge part of the book) and where there isn't any paranormal or other weird stuff ;-) To give you an idea, titles I labeled that way lately include The Raven Prince and Kiss Me, Annabel.

Right behind straight romance came the weird stuff: "Alternate reality, futuristics, fantasy romances", with 23%. It's a very high number, much, much higher than I read last year. Obviously, having changed my way of classifying, I can't really compare, but in 2005 I labeled only 8% of my reads as either Futuristic, Fantasy romance or Paranormal Romance.

Contemporary setting:

Of these, a large number (27%) were category romance, 31 books in all. And after that, three categories pretty much divided the rest of the field among themselves: Romantic Suspense (15%), Straight Romance (14%) and Alternate reality / futuristic / fantasy / paranormal romance (20%).

This last might seem weird, but it would be the books that had a woo-woo plot, but set in a world that's recognizable as our contemporary world. As an example, a world in which the vampires have "come out", as in the Sookie Stackhouse series, I'd classify as an alternate reality, while a world in which there are vampires, but they conceal their existence from humans, as in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I'd still classify as contemporary. And these last books would be an example of the books I've classified as Setting: Contemp, Type: Alternate reality / futuristic / fantasy romance. Debatable, I know, but it makes sense for me.

The rest of the books (23%), were titles that wouldn't fall under the romance classification at all.

Historical setting:

I don't have just a big "Historical" for settings, but rather a variety of sub-settings, so to speak, like Hist-Medieval, Hist-Regency era, Hist-Victorian, and so on. Looking at this, I see that half of all historicals I read were set in the early 19th century, those ubiquitous Regency-set single titles, mostly, since I'm not a huge Trad Regency reader.

In historical settings, the great majority of books I read were of the Straight Romance type (69%), followed by 26% which are either Alternate reality / futuristic / fantasy or Paranormal romances (examples: Catching Midnight, by Emma Holly and A Kiss of Fate, by Mary jo Putney).

Alternate reality / futuristic / fantasy settings:

Most (88%) are Alternate reality / futuristic / fantasy romance, but I've got a plain Fantasy title (i.e. not romance: Poison Study, by Snyder) and two Romantic Suspenses (J.D. Robb's two 2006 In Death titles).

Non Romance

The romance vs. non romance ratio was 86% vs. 14%, very similar to what it was last year. Among the non romances, about a third were books I labeled as Fiction, many of which actually did have a nicely done romantic element, even if they weren't really genre romance. Mystery and Non Fiction came next, each with 17% of the total non romance reads.

Didn't read last year:

Categories which got big fat zeros include historicals set in America (including Westerns) and Time-travel romances.

Coming up next: Older and newer books

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