Genre and You Pick the Hate

I love: genre.

Some people think genre writing, aka category fiction, isn’t serious writing.  I say, ask Stephen King about his bank account.  Serious enough for ya?  HA!

For a refresher on genre, you can read my post here if you want.   I would like to point out that all the stories we tell over and over, our favorite yarns, all fit into some genre or other.

My favorite genres, in no particular order, and why I like them:


I’ve been a horror fan for years.  Stephen King, Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Koontz, Skipp and Spector and more recently, Brian Keene (hi Brian!).  Hmm, no women.  I’ve read Suzy McKee Charnas and sampled Lisa Tuttle and Melanie Tem, but I’m sure there are more.  Time to dig out my anthologies and start googling.

Why I like it

I don’t know.  I like being scared, but it’s been so long since anything actually did the job that I’ve grown weary.  The core element of a really good horror novel is still a great story, and I don’t mean the monster.  I mean characters you really care about, who are doing things in a way you can relate to.  My favorites all have this quality.   A five-shelf bookcase holds my collection.

Good ones

Dracula (1897)-Bram Stoker:  Has never gone out of print.  An epistolary novel that hits the ground running and doesn’t quit.  Quite lurid for the Victorian age.

The Exorcist (1971)-William Peter Blatty.  Yes, it was a book first.  Blatty’s writing has been criticized, but it actually fits the story quite well. I reread it every year or so and enjoy it more each time.

Anything by Robert Bloch, John Wyndham, and fun stuff by Bentley Little.

The Shining (1977)-Stephen King. The ultimate haunted house book.  Wendy in the novel is smart and articulate.  I don’t know what happened to her in the Kubrick film.  I like Shelley Duvall, but damn.

This is the REAL Overlook: the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.

Image: Tom Lianza/Wikimedia Commons

Kids’ books

I LOVE children’s and young adult fiction.  I have another, entire bookshelf devoted to it.  Most of the books I picked up at library sales, quite a few of them are mine from my own childhood, and some are treasures I read long ago and searched for extensively.  They range from baby picture books through many of the Trixie Belden series and stop just short of adulthood.

Why I like it

Let’s get one thing straight.  Loving this genre does NOT mean I can write it.  Nor would I even try.  Kid’s fiction is hard.  But oh, when it’s well done, it’s magic.  Good writing, great characters and some of the funniest and most heartrending tales ever told.

Good ones

The Harry Potter series (1997-2007)-J. K. Rowling.  You knew I couldn’t leave this one out, didn’t you?

King of the Wind (1949)-Marguerite Henry.  Based on the true story of the Godolphin Arabian, an emotional and thrilling story of a boy and his horse.

Black Beauty (1877)-Anna Sewell.  No, I wasn’t one of those horse kids, but I loved this one because the horse tells the story.  Beautiful language.

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series (1968-1999).  A funny, realistic portrayal of family life through the eyes of a spirited little girl.

Apples Every Day (1966)-Grace Richardson.  This is one I had to hunt for.  My childhood library had it.  It’s about these kids at a progressive boarding school in Canada.  I would have LOVED going to a school like this.

“Why yes, I’ve moved on to Anna Karenina. Get that Dr. Seuss outa here.”

Image: Stuart Miles /


There are a ton of subgenres in this category (see this article from Reader’s Digest), but thrillers usually involve some type of intrigue and heroic main characters.  Techno-thrillers make use of futuristic technology to either levy a direct threat against the protagonists or a set of hapless victims.  This is real edge-of-your-seat type stuff.  The only thing I hate about thrillers?  No boinking.  Come on!

Good ones

Deception Point (2001)-Dan Brown.  Say what you will about Brown and his irritating habit of foreshadowing at the end of a chapter.  This is my favorite of his books.  An Arctic meteor holds a clue to possible extraterrestrial life, but some will stop at nothing to hide the secret.  Lots of action, conspiracy and cool science-y stuff.

First Blood (1972)-David Morrell.  Yes, it’s Rambo.  Read it.  That is all.

Red Dragon (1981)-Thomas Harris.  A lot of people would choose The Silence of the Lambs and yes, that is a brilliant book.  But this one is not only my favorite Harris, but one of my all time fave novels ever.  The writing is terse and descriptive, the characters unforgettable.

Jurassic Park (1990)-Michael Crichton.  Best techno-thriller of all time.  God, I miss Crichton.  This book scared the crap out of me, way before they made a film.  Damn T-rex gave me a nightmare.

HOLY MOTHER OF G—oh, it’s fake. Whew!

Image: Qyd/Wikimedia Commons


I hate:

Why should I have all the fun?  You pick the hate part today!   In the comments, tell us the absolute worst genre novel you ever read.  What was it?  Who wrote it (if you can remember)?  What made it so awful?


4 thoughts on “Genre and You Pick the Hate

  1. I’m not much of a horror fan, but I’ve read The Shining, seen the movie, and have been to the Stanley Hotel many times.

    My worst book of recent memory was a cozy mystery, a genre I don’t normally read. Dull, predictable…just a big yawn all around. The fact that it had been published at all made me grouchy :-)

    • I want to go to the Stanley SO BAD. Someday….

      I hate when I can tell what’s coming next in a book. It’s so hard to think of something that hasn’t been done six million times though, especially in that genre.

  2. I don’t know about hate, but I’m not a fan of mushy, shmushy romances. Or fiction in any genre that’s riddled with grammatical errors.

    I share your taste in horror writers, it seems, so I’ll check out a couple of the authors I haven’t read. Thank you!

    • Oh you’re welcome. Always happy to share a good author with someone. :)

      Romance leaves me cold. There are only a couple I like. One is a particular old Harlequin I read years ago and found at the flea market. Another one was a Gothic called *Forbidden Island* (I think) and had a main character named Jenny Raeburn who was smart and funny. I can’t remember the author and have been looking for it for YEARS. Here’s hoping a library book sale will yield it. There are usually a ton of old paperbacks there.

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