In the May 2022 newsletter we asked readers for their favourite genre. Here are their responses:

Sue: I love the detective books.
James Patterson, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Jackson, David Baldacci.
My problem is that they need to write it a series on the outside of the book and what number. Some days I would like to just read a stand-alone and not have to go looking for the other books. Very frustrating. I do not generally like romance or sci-fi got away from horrors.

B: Thanks for the newsletters! They are always read and appreciated.

So, haha, I am having an issue with your classification of your “favourite genres” question as “general”. I find most books these days are mash-ups of more than one genre, especially in the thriller genre, which is one of my favourites. I love the tough guy books (Gilstrap, Hunter), the spy books (Silva, LeCarre, Steinhauer), and a host of others. If characters are well-developed, believable, not whiny, and there is a good plot without being too far-fetched or with too many “convenient-for-the-author coincidences” in it, I’m not too picky about what sub-genre the thriller falls into. (I’m really disliking the trend where female protagonists feel guilty and blame themselves for things for years over some occurrence that was slight or impossible to prevent.)

Mysteries that aren’t thrillers are high up on the list for me. (Osman, Christie, Adler-Olsen, Tana French)

I also love literary books (Roth, Irving, James McBride, Erdrich, Chabon, McEwen, McCarthy) but avoid hard to read experimental fiction or those novels that boast pages long sentences. I’m reading for pleasure!

Give me some horror, too! (King, Jackson, Tremblay, Sager, Joe Hill) Ambiguous horror is a treat. I love vampires, witches, evil creatures of all kinds, but please don’t throw them all together in one book or build worlds where they are accepted as part of society. I like them secretive and scary. I also like evil humans in horror and they sometimes make the scariest monsters as they could be real.

I’m not a big fan of science fiction, in general, but I’ll read any book by Andy Weir. Space opera, no, but Douglas Adams, Pierce Brown, yes.

Westerns? Definitely, especially the literary ones, Lonesome Dove being, imho, one of the best books ever written.

Humour is a blast. (Hiassen, Wodehouse, Moore) Recently Isaka’s Bullet Train mix of thriller and humour was a stand-out and I can’t wait to see the movie.

Seems that for every genre I say I don’t really like there are exceptions that I will read, but never for romance titles with the word “rake” or “duke” in it.

If there was a specific genre for door-stopper books, they would be high on my list, too. I find they often are epics and encompass numerous genres, which when you love a lot of genres is the ideal.

Bud: I enjoy many book genres especially action/adventure thrillers of the type by Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Tom Clancy, Tom Wood, David Baldacci, Lee Child, etc. Above all however, I am a hopeless sucker for historical nautical/military fiction.

This obsession started with Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series beginning with “Master and Commander.” I could hardly read anything else until I’d read them all. I had hoped that the series would go on forever, but sadly it died with the author. Fortunately, other good authors have taken up the mantle in this genre and so the enjoyment goes on with books by Dewey Lambdin (Alan Lewrie series) and Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe series).

Incidentally, has been absolutely crucial since I religiously read these books in order to fully enjoy the development of the heroes and secondary characters.

Carl: My favorites are

Historical Novels
Sports History
Religious History

Ann: I love to read thrillers (mystery, spy, historical, psychological) and police procedural types (Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin) but some can be very intense and draining so I usually move between them and epic historical novels (Ken Follett, Edward Rutherfurd) or ‘easy reads’ (James Patterson, Helen Forrester).

Kenicia: My favorite genre is probably historical mysteries, especially those set during World War II. I do like spy stories from the Cold War era as well.

Vicki: That question is impossible to answer with only one genre. I’m an eclectic reader. My constant purchases are science fiction, romance, mystery, suspense, and fantasy in no special order. Thus said, I read almost all across the spectrum of genre. I don’t read westerns or horror (well, I do read Stephen King and Dean Koontz).

I looked over my last 30 days reading list – domestic or general fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, paranormal suspense, romance, romantic suspense, and science fiction. Some of these are historical (or written in what is now a historical time, thank you Dame Christie) and some are futuristic. Most are fiction, although there’s a memoir thrown in there. (If you haven’t read Ghost Boy, this man’s story has to be read to believe.) Most of the books were published in the past 10 years or so, but there are older ones on the list. Most are adult, but there’s young adult as well.

My inclinations lead me to science fiction and fantasy, romance, and mystery and suspense shelves in the bookstore. Put me in front of library shelves, and who knows what gem I might find. With the addition of audiobooks, I usually have more than one book going at once. (Right now I have fantasy and cozy mysteries going.)

How can I pick one genre? This is why my Mount Bookpile (to be read books) is so high…

Sue B: I read mostly thriller/mystery/detective. I read mostly……😁

Latest: Mysterious Profiles. A series of 23 (so far) short reads by the authors about their main character and a bit of rationale as to the how, what, why.

Sue: I used to like superthrillers, like the Grey Man with bad ass heroes. but lately i am finding them not so enjoyable – maybe because I am 82, maybe because the world seems to be filled with people who are trying to emulate the without the plot – I have always and .I still, enjoyed legal thrillers, police procedurals and psychological thrillers – and of course excellent writers like Louise Penny, Charles Todd, Elly Griffiths, Elizabeth George, et al. And I always look forward to your column – keep on reading and writing!!

Sam: Spy thrillers definitely do it for me. Next in line would probably be military followed by good detective novels alla Nelson DeMille. Sci-Fi would probably come after that.

Phillip: My favorite genre is murder mysteries featuring Private Investigators.

Penny: Just had to drop you a line to tell you how much you are appreciated! I love your recommendations! I always follow them and have yet to be disappointed! I too prefer spy thrillers and ex-military super men!

Tom: I could probably read most book categories without going crazy…well at least one book. Thanks for mentioning Tom Wood as I am half way through the first book of the Victor series. It’s really good.

Nancy: I’ve read all the Alex Berenson books with The John Wells character and the Jack Carr series. Mark Greaney and Brad Thor are also my favorites. Like you, I enjoy spy thrillers. However, I have just started “The President is Missing” which is not a new release. But it was authored by Bill Clinton and James Patterson and I’ve only finished about 10% of the book. It is interesting so far as the President is a former Ranger who was a POW during the Iraqi war and was tortured then. Seems as though it will do with large scale hacking and meeting with opposing forces. I’ll see how I like it. If I do, there is a sequel “The Presidents Daughter is Missing.” Have to get through the first one though before I decide to read the second.

Marwan: Thanks for all the suggestions!!
Currently my favorite genres would be African American Fiction and I recently listened to
“We are Not Like Them” by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza very interesting an delightful.

Linda: I am not sure where to put Jeffrey Archer but I have started reading his books for the second time….something I seldom do. Have just finished “The Eleventh Commandment” and loved it again. Will go through them in order and I think his writing is the best of any author I have read.
Enjoy your site …thanks for your suggestions.

Kat: i like funny mysteries like this series
Open and Shut (Andy Carpenter #1)

My first-favorite genre is, as it has always been, Westerns. They always seem to portray a time and place where most problems had a human scale to them and could be solved by direct human action–a refreshing change from our politicized, technologized, bureaucratized present! My favorite authors are Luke Short, Peter Dawson (who was actually his brother), Clarence Mulford, Stan Lynde, and Elmer Kelton.

Next, neck and neck, sf and fantasy. Not the current gloomy dystopian kind, though. I like to see humanity Seriously Out in Space, like in the Star Wars universe. Or fighting great odds and winning, like Western heroes (and most fantasy ones) do. My favorite authors: SF: Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Christopher Stasheff, Leigh Brackett, Lin Carter, A. Bertram Chandler, C. J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, L. Sprague deCamp, Alan Dean Fister, L. Neil Smith; F: Mercedes Lackey, Patricia Briggs, Genevieve Cogman, Ben Aaronovitch, jack Vance, Thomas Burnett Swann, Katherine Kurtz, David Eddings, and Carter, Norton, and deCamp again (because they wrote in both).

Followed by: kidlit, mostly for readers about 10-12. Favorites: Elizabeth Enright, Arthur Ransome, Jeannie Birdsall, Jacqueline Kelly, Maud Hart Lovelace, and of course J. K. Rowling!

And mysteries. Mostly cozies–I’ll try anything that has a cat on the cover! (Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Joe Grey series, featuring two cats who learn to talk and become solvers of mysteries, are not to miss.) But an old fave is Dell Shannon, a.k.a. Elizabeth Linington and Lesley Egan, who wrote a long list of police procedurals with cops who are portrayed as real human beings with families and lives outside the station.

Christine: For me, my favorite book genre is the cozy murder mystery book. I started out with the Nancy Drew series, then Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie. It is like escaping to this usually lovely place (like Cabot Cove – HA!) where at least one murder takes place and you have this cast of familiar characters (of course it is not a place you would really want to live because of all the deaths happening there book after book Emoji ). My current favorites are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone, Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity books and M.C. Beaton’s beloved Hamish MacBeth and also Agatha Raisin (she was a wonderful writer!).
After the cozy murder mystery genre my second favorite are the thrillers (a bit more intense of course).

My favorite genres would be historical fiction with authors like Bernard Cornwell, Newt Gingrich, and especially my favorite author, John Jakes.

Carol: I too love Shari Lapena…wish she would write more.
My fav genres is political thrillers written by Robert Ellus, Joseph Finder, Ken Fite, Nick Harlow, Jack Mars, Scott Pratt and Rob Shumaker.

Brian: Favorite genre of books for me I would say mystery, thriller, history, auto biography and the occasional western or if something looks interesting

Chris: While I enjoy murder mysteries and legal thrillers, my favorite book genre is probably historical fiction. I really like reading about fictional characters who are based on how people acted in a certain time period. With this type of fiction, the writer has the freedom to change things as they wish, as they aren’t constrained by sticking to actual events and people. These kinds of books make history come alive for me. I love the works of Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon (her books fit into several genres) and Ken Follett, among many others!

Janet: Thrillers and Crime/Law are my favorites. I love Michael Connelly, Stuart Woods, Faye Kellerman, Jefferey Deaver, Catherine Coulter, Stephen Frey, Harlan Coben, Philip Margolin, and many others. Sherlock and Savich, Harry Bosh, Myron Bolitar, Stone Barrington, Decker and Rina are all amazing characters who never fail me. I get sucked in and lose track of time. The Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels is also in the group, but Fern’s books have such wild story lines and the cast of characters are so well developed I feel like I would know them the minutes I saw them.

I also really enjoy paranormal books by Heather Graham, Allison Brennen, and Christine Feehan, The science fiction of Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty the werewolf and Jennifer Estep’s Gin, aka the Spiker – an elemental Assassin, and Harry Potter books.

For fun I like the fluff for the brain easy reads like Janet Evanovich and most all of the Cozy Mystery books series, especially those by Diane Mott Davidson.

I need to stop now, or else this will be a very long list of authors, books, and characters. I read everything now except blood and guts like the Hunger Games books.

AJ: My favorite genres are spy thrillers and Regency romances – pretty different I know. However I also read cozy mysteries, thriller mysteries, and some psychological dramas. No other romances though, not sure why, just don’t like them. My absolute favorite is Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, but I like lots of other series and others.

Kris: Without thinking too hard on it, my first answer is Science Fiction, followed nearly in step by Fantasy. I also love a good historical, especially set in the European Middle Ages (think Ken Follett). I’ve gotten a little tired of the WWII “strong ladies” fiction, but I will still pick up the ones from my favorite authors. (Kate Quinn’s “The Diamond Eye” was FANTASTIC!) My favorite authors in my favorite genre are Jessie Mihalik, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Cixin Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Rebecca Roanhorse, and John Scalzi. I’m a fickle sort, so there are many others that I am likely to grab if I see them on the shelf as well.

Jayme: I rarely get to discuss books even with another obsessive reader because I read such unconnected and specific genres that I rarely meet another who encompasses my tastes. My lifelong obsession started when I was a juvenile and found I had read all the Nancy Drew mysteries on the library shelves. Right next to that self was a book with a rocket ship on its spine. I took home a Robert Heinlein and an Andre Norton and was hooked for life. Science fiction is a predominately male oriented genre, and I frequently am the only female in the science fiction section of the library or bookstore. My second acquired obsession started in High School where I discovered historical novels with a couple of books like “Young Bess” and “Desiree” which moved me to find out how historically accurate they were and kicked off a pursuit of knowledge that is still going strong. My final genre is much more recent but may tie back to those Nancy Drew’s and that is the historical mystery which I am able to use to add to my knowledge of history. The first author I read was Sarah Woodbury’s Gareth & Gwen series set in medieval Wales about which I knew very little for all my pride at knowing English history best.

Since nothing I read is contemporary often when asked what I am reading I will get looks of incomprehension or comparisons with fantasy or horror when I have a science fiction book with me. Historical novels are often assumed to be romantic love stories set in a different era. Don’t get me wrong I have read those in the past but all too often the history is wildly inaccurate or a thinly veiled rip off of Jane Austin or “Taming the Shrew” both of which tend to make an author’s books all the same. Read three Barbara Cartland’s books and you have read every plot she ever come up with.

Ann Marie: I’m with you spy, espionage are my favorites but have just finished the first 2 by Jack Carr and did enjoy them. I don’t do audio because I like having a book in my hands so if I need to go back just turn the pages. I love getting your column bimonthly.

Regina: My favorite genres are , #1 hard science fiction and #2 historical fiction.

I say hard science fiction because I like stories that seem within the realm of possibility someday. I’m not sure why, but I first started reading sci-fi in jr. high and I really loved it. Then there was Star Trek, Lost in Space, & Star Wars. They were big influences in my enjoyment of sci-fi. I’ve mentioned before how much I like Orson Scott Card. Andreas Christensen & Michael Siemsen are also a couple of my favorite authors, especially Siemsen’s EXIGENCY. He has other titles that aren’t sci-fi.

I recently finished THE PARIS DRESS MAKER and really enjoyed it. I plan on reading more by Kristy Cambron. I actually look at Agatha Christie’s books as historical fiction and really like her. I also really like the Brontë’s. It wasn’t “historical” fiction when they wrote, but it certainly is now.

Phoenix: Good morning Graeme! I so enjoy finding your newsletter in my email first thing in a new month. This month you asked what our favorite genre was, and for me it has to be historical fiction. Especially medieval mysteries. Pare that down a little to favorite authors within that genre and you come to Margaret Frazer’s Sister Frivesse tales, Ellis Peter’s Cadfael, and Joyce Lionarons’ Matthew Cordwainer. A different era brings us to more modern times, such as Karen Menuhin’s Heathcliff Lennox series, or Harriet Steel’s Inspector de Silva in Nuala. You might put Irina Shapiro’s time travel novels in there as well.

Pam: I’ll start with my favorite genre: mystery. Can’t get enough of them and a good thriller works for me, too.

I was happy to see that you finally got into Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. It’s one of my all-time favorites. I’ve read them all. I grew up in southern California and so many places/streets Connelly mentions bring back a lot of memories.

I’ve now become a HUGE Louise Penny fan. Her Inspector Gamache series was recommended by a couple of friends and once I began the series could not stop. I love the way she develops her characters and I feel that I’ve come to know them. I highly recommend them and suggest one begins with the first book and reads them in order. They can be read as a stand alone but you’ll get the full flavor of her characters and background if you read in order.

Mark: Favorite genre? Science fiction. That was an easy question!

Linda: Favoerite genre: Thrillers of any kind, military, domestic terror, political, etc. My favorite authors in these genre’s: Kyle Mills, Alex Berenson, Shari Lapena, Louise Penney, Greaney,Harlan Coben, and Ben Coes. I am sure I forgot one, but you get the jest. I finished two Catherine Steadman’s books this month and they were very good
even if a bit crazy at times. Harlen Coben’s “Match” another good one. I used to read all of the Tom Clancy books, but kind of got away from them. But they were good , too. Having a good weekend watching “Billions” and Ozark”, so reading is taking a back burner. I love my Netflix , Prime, and Hulu.

Jessica: My favorite genres are mystery, thriller, dystopian, and fantasy. I can’t pick just one. I do read some horror, but that is mostly my mother’s favorite genre. I have read some romance books, but they were mostly my grandmother’s favorite genre. Right now I’m listening to The End of Forever by Steve Berry.

kat: my reading has changed over the years and since covid they have changed alot. since i can no longer to go the library and all i can get are free ebooks i read all different things i would have never touched before. some good, some not

they range from cozy mystery, to thriller, cowboy, and romance. i used to only read scary mystery so quite a change….
thanks for asking

Joy: I like reading all genres of books but science fiction. The most books I grab off the shelves have got to be suspense ones. I look for good writing such as that by one of my favorite authors -C J Box.
I am a city girl and don’t pay attention to the out of doors but boy does this author make me want to go on a camping trip to Wyoming,

Hollins: My favorite genre has been mysteries since I was a young boy, starting with the Hardy Boys series. As a teenager, I started reading a lot of the “Golden Age” writers – Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ellery Queen. Now my favorites include Louise Penny, John Sandford, and Michael Connelly. I also loved science fiction at a young age, but over the years when I reread books I once enjoyed, I ask myself how I could have enjoyed them.

Donald: Favorite book genre is science fiction and fantasy. Love all of it.

Barbara: Good Afternoon,
My favorite book genres are in this order – Spy thrillers, Mysteries, Detective series, Legal thrillers and Military thrillers. My problem is how to get them all read, and sometimes going back and either beginning at the beginning of a series to get the character development, or going back a re-reading some of the earlier stories that I may have read several years ago. Three authors that fit this description are W.B Griffin, Robert Ludlum and Michael Connlley.
I really miss the stories when certain authors take a long break between editions and then find that I must reread the last publication to catch up with the character and story.
Thanks so much for your site, I get many recommendations and leads to new authors.

Ginny: Isn’t it odd that when you are a voracious reader, you end up developing subgenres that you like better within each larger genre? Here’s what I read most of:

MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t kill the dog!

1) Nonfiction in general – My favorites are medical books written for the popular audience, like The Demon in the Freezer, The Coming Plague, and Premonition by Lewis. Also I like doomsday NF, like The Uninhabitable Earth. And books about maltreatment, or man’s inhumanity to man, like The Guarded Gate.

2) Bios/memoirs – most specifically, nostalgic memoirs like Cheaper by the Dozen and Golden Boy by Booth. Also, true crime books like Just Mercy, Missoula and Cruel Doubt by McGinniss. I do NOT like celebrity puff pieces.

3) Time travel/time aberration books – most specifically, serious books like Time and Again, Replay, and Here and Now and Then. NOT so much time travel books that are trying to be funny.

4) Middle-grade/middle school books only on serious subjects – like Ground Zero and The Eyes of the Emperor.

5) General fiction – all topics. I don’t know how to categorize this, but just to say the book needs to be readable and GOOD, not a book that I have to work really hard to figure out what is going on. And it needs to have some meat to it or include a serious subject, not be a book that is just written to scare or horrify (because then I will feel manipulated).

6) Mysteries – right now my favorites are Paul Doiron, William Krueger, C J Box (in my mind I call those the wilderness mysteries), and also Louise Penny.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Your Favourite Genre

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Your Favourite Genre”

  1. Chris J: 2 years ago

    How did I miss this one? My all-time favorite genre is Westerns. I’m a baby boomer, so I was weaned on the TV kind, and from there, once I discovered paperbacks (in high school, I think), there was no stopping me. I don’t read a lot of the current ones, but classics from “The Virginian” (which I’ve reread several times) up through the authors of the 1960s and early ’70s still entertain me.

    After that, it’s probably a tie between sf and fantasy, closely followed by mysteries (mostly cozies, though I also like the Kinsey Millhones and Dell Shannon’s police procedurals (she also wrote as Lesley Egan and Elizabeth Linington), and historical fiction.

    You notice that genre is my genre! I very seldom read mainstream fiction. It’s too much of modern problems. I read for escape from those!


    • Graeme: 2 years ago

      Thanks for contributing Chris 🙂


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