This Is My Genre book tag

I saw this tag on Callum’s blog and it looked fun, so let’s get started!

What is your favourite genre?

I was actually having a hard time coming up with an answer to this because my gut reaction is ‘literary fiction’ but that’s not even technically a genre, and I’d say the same goes for ‘classics,’ so, limiting myself to strictly ‘genre fiction,’ I’m deciding to go with historical fiction.  Especially because I feel like I don’t talk about my love for it as much as I should on here, so this is a good excuse to do so!

Who is your favourite author from that genre?

John Boyne is one of those authors I envy who has the magical ability to across multiple genres, but I’d say he’s primarily a historical fiction author – even his horror novel This House is Haunted is a gothic tale set in the 1800s.  So, John Boyne.  His way with words is so clever and his characters are all so flawed and vivid they practically leap off the page.  The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of those books I recommend to literally everyone because it’s just that good.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

So much!  I love history but I don’t necessarily have the drive or patience to wade through a several hundred page long nonfiction book about a historical subject, so it’s a great way to learn about certain subjects in a more accessible format.  I also love that epic, sweeping family sagas are so common to this genre – so many of my favorite books are 500+ page monsters and quite a lot of them are historical fiction.  And I just love getting sucked into a good story and feeling immersed in a setting, and when historical fiction achieves that it’s so excellent.

What is the book that started your love for that genre?

I don’t know if there was any one in particular, but Lisa See was one of my first favorite historical fiction writers.  I’d still highly recommend any of her novels, but my favorites are probably these three: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls, and its sequel Dreams of Joy.  All of her books focus on female characters from different regions and periods throughout Chinese history; I always end up learning quite a lot from her.

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

I couldn’t narrow it down, so I’m going to give recs based off your preferred genre:

If you mostly read thrillers, I’d recommend: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  This tells the fictionalized story of a real person, the last woman to ever be sentenced to death in Iceland in 1829.  The rural Icelandic setting that Kent evokes is so vivid it’s stayed with me years after reading this, and this is one of the best examples I can think of when I think about historical fiction novels that make me feel truly immersed in the time period.  But it’s also quite a gripping story and getting to the heart of the crime that Agnes supposedly committed is a steady source of intrigue, so I’d highly recommend this one to just about everyone (if you have a strong stomach).

If you mostly read literary fiction, I’d recommend: Human Acts by Han Kang.  This is a flawlessly written novel about the Gwangju Uprising of 1980 in South Korea, where hundreds of civilians were killed by government troops.  This book is brutal and harrowing but also succinct and unsentimental and just flawlessly composed.

If you mostly read bestsellers, I’d recommend: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.  I’d honestly recommend this book to everyone.  It’s compelling, lyrical, heartbreaking, moving, etc. etc. etc.  It’s a multigenerational family saga that spans the 20th century which begins in Korea and ends in Japan, and it explores Japanese-Korean relations in such a candid way.  This is easily one of the most informative historical novels I’ve ever read about the time period and countries it’s depicting, but none of that bogs down the narrative, which is effortlessly engaging throughout.

If you mostly read sci-fi, I’d recommend: Kindred by Octavia Butler.  This is a really interesting historical/sci-fi hybrid, which essentially uses time travel as a tool to explore slavery and racism from a contemporary perspective (contemporary at the time Butler was writing this, in the 1970s).  The main character Dana, a black woman, is transported back in time for reasons she doesn’t understand to the Civil War era, and upon her arrival the first thing she does is save a white boy from drowning.  She then discovers that he’s going to grow up to be one of her ancestors, and the two characters’ fates become intertwined and it’s just a fascinating story.

If you mostly read YA, I’d recommend: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rivka Brunt.  Set in the 1980s, this is a sort of YA/adult crossover that follows a teenage girl, June, struggling to cope with the death of her favorite uncle who’s just died of AIDS.  It’s moving and heartfelt but never corny or trite, and it’s not only a fantastic coming of age novel but a really incisive look at the AIDS crisis during the time when it still wasn’t fully understood.

Why do you read?

To learn, to think, to challenge myself, to relax… my reasons change with each book!

Tagging Chelsea and Steph because they’re my fellow historical fiction lovers (not that you guys need to choose historical fiction).  And Hannah because she’s definitely not going to choose historical fiction.

25 thoughts on “This Is My Genre book tag

  1. Excellent strategy with the recommendations! For some reason I’ve never yet read John Boyne, which seems crazy given that I haven’t heard a single bad thing about The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tag! I claim myself to be a lover of historical fiction because over the past years I saw that my favourite books are usually historical fiction. However I have never read anything by John Boyne, which makes me feel the need to remedy that! I adore Hannah Kent as well, and Octavia E Butler is now definitely in my TBR list.

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    • Ah yes you absolutely must read John Boyne!!! You’re definitely not a worse historical fiction lover for not having read him, but his books are just brilliant. And I hope you enjoy Octavia Butler, I thought Kindred was a fascinating read!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm why haven’t I read Human Acts yet. I also can’t believe I’ve never read a Lisa See book, even though I’ve seen them all over the place for years.

    But also?? I don’t know what genre my favorite genre is?? Maybe it depends on my mood idk idk

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    • YOU MUST! It’s SO brutal and like… not as character-driven as the stuff I usually associate you with?? But it’s also just a really stunning book?? You can borrow my copy if you want… I will be saying that a lot tomorrow. Also re: Lisa See. I actually only own a couple of her books but you can definitely borrow any of those.

      You should just do historical fiction because it always needs more love tbh.

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  4. For some reason I have never thought of you as someone who likes historical fiction! But now that I think of it you do read a TON of it so I don’t know why I never associated it with you?? Anyway, cool tag!! Love the way you did the recommendations.

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    • omg that’s SO funny! If we’re not counting literary fiction as a genre what would you think I’d pick? Thrillers maybe? Idk I considered those but I think if I only had to read thrillers I would lose my goddamn mind whereas if I only had to read historical fiction I’d still enjoy most of it so that kind of settled that debate. Also consider yourself tagged if you want to do this.

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      • omg unfortunately literary fiction IS what I would have gone for dkjldfahlkja.

        not to go down a rabbit hole but the conversation about what constitutes a genre and what constitutes a category is SO fascinating to me. like people think of YA as a genre but it’s…not, it’s just a marketing category that then encompasses all sorts of genres. but literary fiction tends to defined almost in opposition to genre fiction like mystery, fantasy, etc.

        and then there’s the supposed difference between literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction that often feels so nebulous. idk it’s intriguing!!

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      • I can never decide where I fall in this debate which is why I just threw literary fiction out of the running altogether, I wanted to pick something that everyone could agree is absolutely 100% a ‘genre’. But also on twitter yesterday I answered ‘what’s your favorite genre’ with literary fiction so I’m v. fickle about this.

        It’s strange that I tend to think of ‘literary fiction’ as a term comparable to ‘YA’ because I think of it being a classification rather than a genre? But you are absolutely right that there are genres WITHIN YA and there are not genres within literary fiction, so I guess that in and of itself makes literary fiction a genre? I guess?? But yeah re: commercial/literary/upmarket I think of commercial fiction being genre fiction and upmarket being a blend of commercial and literary… idk the fact that literary fiction is used as a term to contrast genre fiction makes me feel weird referring to it as a genre, but if it’s not a genre what is it??? This whole thing is v. nebulous indeed.

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      • this whole confusing debate about genres is partly why i’ve been trying hard recently to expand my reading. i used to read almost exclusively YA fantasy but i’m trying to branch out and read absolutely everything because genre classification can be so arbitrary!

        like, home fire is “literary fiction” but i loved it and a place for us is also “literary fiction” but i was meh about it. i’m trying to like…think outside genres and look more towards book summary and writing style.

        and i mean, like, it’s not as though i think genre classification is always arbitrary because there *are* certain genre conventions and tropes that exist only within certain genres…but i guess what i’m trying to say is i’m attempting to avoid the…stereotype associated with certain genres? like i always thought of literary fiction as pretentious white people plots but obv. it’s so much more than that! like sometimes folks can be so rigid about genres and categorization but i don’t think it’s always that deep.

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      • I also like to think that I read broadly for the most part, like there are obviously huge gaps in my reading but idk, I feel like it would be so easy to just say ‘I don’t like YA’ and stick to adult lit but I try to make a point of reading YA every now and then and trying to isolate the common thread(s) in the YA that I’ve enjoyed in the past, otherwise I’m just depriving myself of really great books for no reason.

        Also that’s a VERY good point about genre conventions vs. stereotypes. Like with thrillers obviously you have certain narrative criteria that has to be met, like there has to be a crime and an attempt made by some of the characters to solve the crime, but I think the stereotype is that thrillers are grimdark torture porn and that is absolutely not the case for a large majority of them. I find myself doing the same thing with like, YA fantasy, I sort of think of it as overly tropey with too much romance but that’s not necessarily the case for every YA fantasy book, it’s all about finding the right ones.

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  5. Thank you for reviving my interest in Burial Rites. I read some unfavorable reviews on goodreads with people saying that the book is very atmospheric but narratively uneven or even uninteresting, so I decided not to read it, and I now I have changed my mind. Yes, I know I rely on other’s opinions – it’s faster lol. Pachinko sounds really interesting and intriguing too!

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