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The Most Popular Genre of Book - What is the World Reading?

When one picks the pen figuratively or literally to write, some questions come up. Like, what is currently the most popular genre of book that readers want? And what book genre do you want to write in? And if the answers to these questions align, then it certainly helps in your commercial pursuit of writing.

It is something that every writer goes through to see where their idea fits in the marketplace. Like we said, one doesn’t need to simply pick a book genre because it’s popular in the market. A book’s success depends on more than just the popularity of its genre.

The popularity of a genre is not bound to its format. It could be anything from hardcover to softcover to an e-book or even an audiobook.

The popularity of book genres rises and wanes as trends change. Some are ever-popular, others come and go, and some always remain niche.

Most Popular Book Genre

So, what makes a book genre popular? But before we get into the most popular genres of books in 2021, let’s take a look at what defines a genre. And what is a subgenre?

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Defining Genre

It is important to understand what defines a genre before discussing the best-selling book genres in 2021. A genre is a category that the book falls under. The themes and storylines crafted by the author define the category.

It is often the metric by which readers decide what their next book to read will be.

The choice of genre is an important one for any author. The reader does not want to pick up a crime thriller that spends more time on romantic escapades than the crime itself. Or a romance where the protagonist doesn’t experience love.

However, it does not mean that a book has to be a single track and not incorporate elements of multiple genres.

For example, a sci-fi book could have elements of romance and mystery. But the book’s overall theme will be sci-fi, which is what defines its book genre.

Defining Subgenre

Genres are too broad, and there is no guarantee that a reader would like every book in a specific book genre. Subgenres exist to make it easier for the reader to choose their preferred niche. Additionally, they help the author to focus on the coherence of the theme.

There are several subgenres for each genre. For example, the ever-popular romance book genre has several subgenres, some of which are as follows:

  • Contemporary: The most popular of romantic subgenres. Contemporary romance tells stories in the modern era with true-to-life settings and characters. Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev and The Beach House by Rachel Hanna are examples of this subgenre.

  • Historical: This is another very popular subgenre of romance. Historical romance tells stories set in a specific time, usually pre-World War II. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and the Bridgerton Books by Julia Quinn are examples of this subgenre.

  • Multicultural: Romantic tales revolving around people of color and different cultures. These are a window into how love is different in different places. Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin, Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu, and A Taste For Love by Jennifer Yes are examples of this subgenre.

  • Paranormal: These romantic tales involve a supernatural element taking in tropes from sci-fi or fantasy, like time travel, monsters, etc. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer are examples of this subgenre.

On the other hand, some of the subcategories within the sci-fi and fantasy book genre are as follows:

  • Alternate History: It asks the question “What if?” with regards to actual historical events. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K.Dick or the World War Series by Harry Turtledove are examples of this subgenre.

  • High Fantasy: These are stories emphasizing the world or a race’s fate with a young hero coming face to face with ultimate evil. Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most well-known examples of this subgenre.

  • Cyberpunk: These have an outsider protagonist in a high-tech world in the not-so-distant future. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, Do Androids Dream of Electic Sheep by Philip K. Dick, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline by Ernest Cline are examples of this subgenre.

  • Dystopian: Stories that paint a very bleak picture of a future world. Currently, one of the best-selling book genres. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, 1984 by George Orwell, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley are examples of dystopian science fiction.

A complete list of subgenres for the most popular book genre would require a separate post. But whether you’re an author or a reader, it helps to know the genres and subgenres that o2e enjoys.

The Most Popular Book Genre h2 Have A Look

Some genres remain ever-popular; others have risen to prominence. We take a look at the most popular book genres of 2021.


We all love stories, and romance has consistently been one of the top-selling book genres. In fact, romance has always been one of the top 10 best-selling book genres. According to BookStats, romance titles are at the top in book sales by genre, with sales topping a billion dollars.

There are several subgenres in romance that are constantly rising and falling to claim the top spot. At the moment, contemporary romance and historical romance are the most popular. Contemporary romance is set in the present time.

Anything posts World War II qualifies. In contrast, historical romance is anything that pre-dates World War II.

The popularity of contemporary romance has grown as more authors explore more diverse themes and ideas of modern romance. Novels like Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Alam, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, Me Before you by Jojo Moyes are just a few examples.

Exploring themes of love among racial identities, cultural dissonance, immigrant communities, and more diverse backdrops. As a result, contemporary romance is poised to remain one of the top selling book categories.

In contrast, historical romance’s popularity lies with escapism to a different era it provides. As a result, forlorn romanticism is often intertwined within this book genre. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole are some examples of this book genre.

The love affair of readers with the romance genre does not show any indication of slowing down. Millions of sales every year make it one of the most popular book genres.


Thrillers are nearly as popular as romance, indicating people like to take a stroll on the dark side of life. People love book genres that explore the spectrum of emotions.

Where romance brings forth warm, happy endings, in contrast, thrillers explore the darker emotions and endings. Among thrillers, crime, psychological, and horror subgenres tend to be a favorite of the readers.

Well-written crime thrillers are page-turners and keep the readers hooked through their curiosity of what is next. The Davinci Code by Dan Brown, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are notable examples.

The exploration of dark, cerebral conflicts entices readers to pick up psychological thrillers. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris are notable examples.

Horror explores the hidden depths of what is possible in the darkness of our world and minds. Anything by Stephen King is an example of an excellent horror thriller.

What makes thrillers a popular book genre is their exploration of the darker impulses of us. It shows a dark mirror of the readers’ desires, emotions, and deepest fears. Thrillers will always be popular or at least popular till we continue to tell dark stories in the deep of the night.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

According to a report in 2019 by Book Ad Reports, fantasy and science fiction earned more than half a billion dollars that year. So, fantasy and science fiction as a book genre has grown in popularity over the past few years. And it may not hold the top spots for popular book genres like thrillers and romance. But it certainly has the most dedicated and loyal readers.

Fantasy and science fiction have the highest number of subgenres, and there are extensive crossovers between them at times. Currently, the most popular subgenres are young adults, dystopian, high fantasy, and cyberpunk, to name just a few.

Readers flock to this genre because it takes them on a journey to distant stars and distant eras in the far future or long-forgotten past. They introduce the readers to creatures of wonder and wondrous civilizations. The limit is the imagination of the author.

Another testament to the popularity of this genre is the fact that there are always sci-fi or fantasy books in any best-selling or popular books of all times lists. Additionally, this book genre is the most sought-after for adaptations to movies and tv-series in recent years.

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman are examples of fantasy. On the other hand, science fiction has stories by Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, Frank Herbert, Mary Shelly, and many more. Both fantasy and science fiction are geared towards series of books as epic sagas are rarely contained in a singular book.


Children’s fiction is one of the most difficult but rewarding book genres. The market for children’s books is huge, but there is a lack of titles geared towards kids. And there will always be a need for a good age-appropriate tale for children.

Children’s books are considered their own genre, but the themes and settings vary from fantasy to mystery to sci-fi. Generally, they are divided by age which are:

  • Baby to two year olds

  • Three to five year olds

  • Six to eight year olds

  • Nine to twelve year olds.

The young adult market includes teenagers. The books for children vary from baby books to picture books to easy readers and transition books.

The book genre aimed at children serves an important role in the development of intellect. Additionally, it also creates adult readers because reading habits often solidify during childhood. The Cat in the Hat by Dr.Suess and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are examples of this genre.


There are days when one needs help to understand the world around oneself or just needs inspiration. Self-help books fulfill this needs. As a result, their popularity has skyrocketed in the last decade especially considering the global situation in recent years.

This book genre is not in top selling book categories, but they are steady sellers. The self-help, self-improvement, and inspiration books generate upwards of 700 million dollars, according to a The Richest report in 2013. This number has only gone up since then.

A large percentage of books in this book genre are concerned with business success, wealth acquisition, and personality growth. The remaining tend to fall under general categories or have religious inclinations. In those books, the inspiration and improvement come from a religious doctrine.

Books like Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey are examples of this genre.

As an author, if you plan on venturing into writing for this book genre, consider a few things. First, it may not be the most popular book genre, but it is popular enough. Second, think about what will be useful to people. Third, the only limitation is the ones you put on yourself to the ideas you can put down.

Most Popular Themes for Book Genres in 2021

The themes within the popular book genres change from year to year, reflecting the happenings of recent times. Some of the more prominent themes in 2021 in the most popular book genre are as follows:

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COVID-19 has left its mark on everything in recent years, and the crises due to it will inspire writers. Themes of isolation, disaster, socio-political upheaval, and the changing dynamics of how we live. Older books with these themes are seeing a resurgence in sales, and new authors are also exploring them.


The dystopian subgenre has always been a popular trope in fantasy and science fiction. However, in recent years it has been more geared towards the Young Adult markets. In addition, the impact of the pandemic has caused a renewed interest in books with dystopian themes.


The dystopian subgenre has always been a popular trope in fantasy and science fiction. However, in recent years it has been more geared towards the Young Adult markets. In addition, the impact of the pandemic has caused a renewed interest in books with dystopian themes.

Books dealing with minority issues and inclusivity are on the rise. 2021 has seen more diverse authors write about a wider range of issues, from gender and racial identities to disability and inclusivity. It helps forge a stronger connection when the character you’re reading is a mirror to the reader. Both fiction and non-fiction are examples of these kinds of books.

Picking the Right Book Genre

Now that we’ve covered the most popular book genres and some popular themes in 2021. Let’s see how one can pick the right book genre for their book. It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Writing is all about connecting with a reader, and you need to think about these three basic things as an author.

  1. Who is your target audience?

  2. What does your ideal audience member look like?

  3. What does your book bring to their lives?

One of the ways one can go about answering these questions is by seeing what’s popular in that book genre. Of course, they are popular because they give the reader what they want. But additionally, you can also write what you would enjoy reading. Or, perhaps something that you feel is missing from a genre.

In contrast, non-fiction books do not have as much diversity in genres as fiction does. Nevertheless, the questions are the same, more or less. But with non-fiction, it is more about picking something that imparts skills and ideas. Or it delves deeper into the lives of someone for inspiration.

Why a Popular Genre?

Genres, as previously mentioned, are how readers pick which book they would like to read. Thus, readers tend to gravitate towards book genres that they enjoyed previously. So, choosing a popular book genre increases the possibility of readers taking an interest in your book.

Online stores and digital book libraries usually recommend books to readers based upon their previously read book genres. So, it’s a balancing act between choosing a popular genre and the right genre.

Final Thoughts

Picking the right book genre is an important decision and can impact your book sales bottom line.

But there is more to it than just picking one of the best-selling book categories. Your writing needs to be able to capture the audience’s attention and give them what they want.

Know your strengths and weaknesses and know your audience. Understanding that not everyone can write a great romance or a mystery book.

It’s all about finding the right balance between what’s popular and what you are good at. When both align, then there are great sales, and the following of loyal readers grows.

If you want assistance with writing a best-seller, need an expert to edit it, or simply want a reliable publisher to bring your book to the limelight, Pro Book Writing has got your covered. We house a team of book writing and publishing experts that has already helped several authors find the limelight.

We provide a broad range of services including ghost writing, editing, script writing, book trailers, book design, book marketing and a lot more.

For information about our services, feel free to get in touch with us or get a quick quote here. We will love to assist you with your book!

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