Sunday, January 1, 2012

The 2012 Genre Fiction Challenge

So how well do you know your genre fiction? Would you like to have a better comprehensive knowledge of the different genres of fiction? Are you an avid bookworm? Do you find yourself only reading one or two genres and would perhaps like to refine and expand your literary palate?

Well, in keeping with the tradition of creating resolutions and goals on the new year, I'm going to try a brand-spankin' new reading challenge I have never tried before, and I'd like to invite you to try it with me!

To win this challenge, one must read five novels of every genre of genre fiction in 2012. You can also win "Genre Apprentice" status by reading one book from each genre in 2012. The books can be targeted for young adults or adults and the genres are as follows*:

Adrenaline Genres
  • Adventure: This genre is action-packed and has a hero on a mission. Pacing is brisk and there is an obvious hero protagonist. There is a sense of danger and physical obstacles for the protagonist to overcome. Exotic locales are common. Suggested authors:  Steve Berry, Bernard Cornwell,  Arturo Perez-Reverte, Matthew Reilly, James Rollins
  • Romantic Suspense: This genre is romance with a sense of danger. Stories are told from a threatened albeit resourceful and independent heroine's point of view. Witty dialogue and exotic settings. Suggested authors: Suzanne Brockmann, Dee Henderson, Lisa Jackson, Iris Johansen, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb
  • Suspense: Tension and uneasiness upstage any other genre elements like romance or mystery. Usually takes place within a narrow time frame with a dark menacing atmosphere. An unknown danger has interrupted the protagonist's daily life. Suggested authors: Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Gardner
  • Thrillers: Focuses on a particular profession (medicine, law or law enforcement, espionage, etc.), and then tells an action-packed story that involves the details of any said profession. Fast paced with details and technical language or jargon of the profession of the protagonist. Suggested authors: David Baldacci, Barry Eisler, Linda A. Fairstein, Alan Furst, Lisa Scottoline
Emotions Genres
  • Gentle Reads: Old fashioned stories with traditional values. Story-lines are about relationships instead of suspense or controversy. Feel good and "clean." Suggested authors: Jennifer Chiaverini, Debbie Macomber, Alexander McCall Smith, Sharon Owens, Adriana Trigiani, 
  • Horror: Monsters and haunted protagonists are keystones of this genre. Vampires, werewolves and other nightmarish creatures may take part. Expect scary surprises. Suggested authors: Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Sarah Langan, Peter Straub
  • Romance: Generally with female protagonists and rugged male types... Suggested authors: Katie Fforde, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Linda Lael Miller, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn
Intellect Genres
  • Literary Fiction: Critically acclaimed and character oriented. Literary style is important. Can be thought provoking or experimental. Suggested authors: Michael Chabon, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Mysteries: The answering of a question (whodunnit?) drives the plot. Focuses on the investigator and investigation. Suggested authors: Michael Connelly, Diane Mott Davidson, Donna Leon, Henning Mankell, Jacqueline Winspear
  • Psychological Suspense: Disturbing moods and mental nightmares pervade the genre. Madness and the inner workings of the mind frame these stories. More descriptions than dialogue. Suggested authors: Keith R. Ablow, Peter Abrahams, Carol Goodman, Jeffry P. Lindsay, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine
  • Science Fiction: Generally takes place in the future, or outside our solar system. Scientific details are important, and the story examines moral and ethical questions against a new and speculative setting. Emphasizes ideas vs. relationships. Suggested authors: C. J. Cherryh, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, Harry Turtledove
Landscape Genres
  • Fantasy: Dragons, knights, princesses and quests. Magic is real and wizards and elves abound.  Emphasizes relationships rather than ideas (though generally has both). Suggested authors: Jim Butcher, Jasper Fforde, Neal Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Naomi Novik 
  • Historical Fiction: Accurate historical detail in story. Story lines focus on particular historical event or time period. Characters may be real or fictional, but they must fit the time of the setting. Suggested authors: Phillipa Gregory, John Jakes, Edward Rutherfurd, Jeff Shaara, Susan Vreeland
  • Westerns: Generally takes place in the Western U.S. during the time between the Civil War and 1900. Traditional heroes are loners who right wrongs before "moving on." Suggested authors: Don Coldsmith, Ivan Doig, Loren D. Estleman, Stephen Overholser, Richard S. Wheeler

The Levels of Genre-ology

The winners of this challenge can award themselves the following titles depending on how many books they read of each genre (I will make little thumbnails for these soon):

1. Genre Apprentice: Read 1 book from each of the genres depicted above in 2012. At least 14 books for the year.

2. Genre Journeyman: Read 3 books from each of the genres depicted above in 2012. At least 42 books for the year.

3. Genre Master: Read 5 books from each of the genres depicted above in 2012. At least 70 books for the year.

You can award yourself each title throughout the year, as you progress to Genre Master, but once the year is over, the challenge is over and whatever level you have achieved when it hits midnight on the night of December 31st of 2012 will be your title for the year.

Share this challenge on your blog, and add your blog to the link list below if you are participating. Feel free to add a button I have provided here and link back to this post if you are participating so more can join in the genre fiction sampling challenge!

210 x 189

230 x 208


*Note: The descriptions, list and suggested authors of the genres are from The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction.

UPDATE: OK, so apparently that dumb little linky list "expires." WTH?! Anyways, rather than fudge with it, I'll just ask you to comment below if you plan on participating in the challenge. Thanks!


  1. Miri Gifford ShortenJanuary 2, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Boo, I hate having to pass up a reading challenge! I have a theme for this year, though, and I've actually already had to postpone the fiction theme I was going to have for the year, because I know I won't be able to do it justice. I'll definitely be reading to see how you like yours though! Have fun :)

  2. Well thanks for commenting, Miri! I will definitely post as I progress through this challenge. I'm excited about it helping my librarian readers' advisory skeeelz. :D


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