First I just want to say this is only my opinion. I was a History major and have not had any formal training I am just a very avid reader.
Now, my friends and fellow bloggers Elizabeth and Beth have been posting about books recently. I’ll link their 2 blogs that I am referring to in this but it got me thinking. Then, my younger sister Jordan, who is an English major, and I were talking about her class and how she feels dumb in it because she has already arrived at the main point. That main point is:
GENRE IS SUBJECTIVE
Here is what I mean by that. The way I look at the world of literature there is 2 big umbrellas. One is labeled ” NON-FICTION” and one is “FICTION”. Underneath those umbrella’s there are so many different labels. Just to name a few:
FICTION: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Romance, etc
Non-Ficiton: Travel, History, Biography, Business, etc
The list could go on and on but what I have listed, may not match what you think. When I was thinking about my sister’s point about genre and reading my friends blogs about “successful authors” it reminded me of my JBB interview. The Assistant manager that interviewed me asked me ” What genre’s do would you feel you are competent in? What would your expertise be in the store?” I don’t remember what said back to her eventually because I remember looking at her dumbfounded. I knew a corporation like JBB would not define books the way I do so what was I to say? I read such a wide range of books and make up my own genre’s for them that I am never sure what to say when people ask me what I like to read.
To me, genre is owned by the readers. First, and foremost, the author needs to decide what his/her vision for the book is. The author has an idea of what they want the genre to be, a bookstore uses that to shelve it in a broader location and then it is the reader who ultimately decides where it fits in their life. The more I think about it, the happier I am that I am just a reader and not a writer.
That also gets me thinking about the”successful authors” point I made above. Is an author unsuccessful because they wrote a horror book but I look at it as a Historical thriller? I don’t believe so. What I see as a horror novel other people could see it as just plain fiction. Not thrilling enough for them or maybe it was too scary? Either way, it depends on your reader. I think as long as a author makes you feel something then they were successful. If they can give you the opportunity to look at something from a new perspective or a fresh viewpoint they’ve done their job. Unless you’re Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Because I’m sorry, your book just sucks:
Books are made to invoke feelings. They are tools people can use to start a change, make a difference, or just transport you to a magical castle in Scotland to fight evil. They are made to make you use your mind and “live more than one life, in more than one place.” Looking at it that way, does it seem too radical about genre’s anymore?