Classifying Books

I found this Guardian article about the distinction – or lack thereof – between fiction and nonfiction around the world to be quite fascinating. The librarian in me always finds these discussions of how to classify and label books incredibly interesting. I especially found this quote to be enlightening: “The division between “the writing of imagination and the writing of fact” that seems so obvious to the anglophone readers “doesn’t seem straightforward at all to much of the rest of the world” said translator Esther Allen.”

That said, in America, we spend more time arguing about genres these days. What is a genre? How do you decide what goes where when a book spans genres, like romantic suspense or urban fantasy? We have a tendency to call YA a genre when it is not. Publishers are now referring to New Adult as a genre but it is not. Sometimes we try to over-classify in this way to help readers find what they are looking for, but more often, it is slapping a new label on an existing category in order to sell more books.

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