What’s in a (genre) name?

Good afternoon, bookworm, it’s so lovely to see you again! Please, move the cat off the comfy chair and have a seat. Cuppa? Slice of cake? There, we’re all settled.

I’ve just been tidying up following a few weeks of DIY in my humble blog abode, fumbling my way around adding pages, menus and widgets. I must confess here to doing this with several impressions of comedian Jack Dee in a certain canned bitter advert from the 90’s: “Widget. It’s got a widget. A lovely widget. A widget it has got…” (cue blank faces for our Millennial bookworms, but I promise it was a thing)!

My work all started with a message from a lovely reader, who suggested that a page dedicated to book reviews would make them easier to find, instead of them appearing amongst other blog posts. I loved this idea and gradually built Book Review Corner. I decided to organise it into fiction, non-fiction and poetry, with further little nooks and crannies to find specific genres in.

And that’s where I became stuck, as if I’d superglued my fingers to my bookshelves and was waiting for someone to help me achieve a “conscious uncoupling” from it, to quote Gwyneth Paltrow.

Those genres are tricky, wee beasties. They’re similar in my mind to some of the plasticine creations which emerged from the eighties TV show ‘Trap Door’ (ugh, I’m showing my age tonight!). Sometimes it’s very easy to tell where a book would fit, especially if it’s something like Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. But what if it’s a gore-ridden horror with strong elements of romance? Or a novel based in the Victorian era, which on the face of it would fit perfectly in with historical fiction but wait, what’s this? It involves some spookiness and witchcraft, which means the paranormal and magical realism sub-genres come sniffing around with interest.

Dare I ask for your thoughts on science fiction and fantasy books? Bravely (or foolishly), I have – hold on a moment while I check nobody’s listening – mixed sci-fi and fantasy together, which is apparently as unconscionable to some bookworms as mistaking Star Trek for Star Wars is to film buffs – wasn’t there a character called Darth Spock or something like that? (I’m kidding – sorry, I couldn’t resist!) Historical romance, vampire saga… it’s so complex and I don’t want to cause offence.

People often ask me what my favourite genres are and that’s a tricky one for me to answer too. You see, I love a riveting crime fiction novel but I’m quite specific about what kind of crime we’re talking about here: I much prefer a serious police procedural, with its often angst-ridden detectives trying to get in the minds of serial killers; I’m not quite as enthusiastic about the cosy mystery, with its local busybodies snooping for clues while they rummage through their knitting for a notebook. I love knitting by the way, in case there are any knitting ninjas ready to pounce on me!

And don’t get me started on audiobooks – I decided this needs it’s own room complete with guard dog and security within my book blog, just to prevent riots breaking out between fans of the format and purists who firmly believe a book can only be added to your yearly stats if it has passed through your eyes, not your ears.

It’s all been rather mentally exhausting so in the end, I just took the plunge. You see, that’s the beauty of a blog: I have a degree of licence to do as I please! So for now, I’ve very cautiously grouped some books together, acknowledging that they may not usually share a shelf in a library, let alone a section. Some of the genres may not like it, with the classics looking at literary fiction as if they are ‘new money’ on the Titanic but it’s a trial. I can change it. We’ll see how they behave together.

So please feel free to have a look around my refurbished site, the paint should be dry by now. And should you see any antisocial behaviour between books, please feel free to leave their details with the cat.

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