#LetsDiscuss2023 #5 – Genre Shift #LetsTalkBookish #9 – #DiscussionSunday

This is actually a question that I suggested for to Aria for the Let’s Talk Bookish discussion meme!

Do you you think Genres shift over time, and is that a good thing or a bad thing?


These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!

What made me think about this topic?

As noted above, I suggested this one for Aria @ Book Nook Bits who hosts the Let’s Talk Bookish discussion meme. I posed a few questions. They include: Is there a genre you think is done better or worse today than it was in the past? How is it better today or how is it better or worse than it was before? What differences do you see that make them better or worse?

My Thoughts…

Do I think genres shift over time? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Oh, yes… I totally believe that genres shift over time. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes drastic, but yes, they all shift. And I think that’s a very good thing. I mean, we live in a different world than Charles Dickens, which was different than when Jane Austin was alive, which was nothing like when Shakespeare was writing. If our real world changes, certainly the fictional worlds around us should change as well! Obviously, all those “universal” basic plots are still around, but even they have more variations on their themes/tropes than they did many years ago, even within our own lifetimes (if we’re old enough, like me)!

Is there a genre that is better or worse today than in the past? If so, how is it better or worse? What differences make them better or worse?

Well, although I don’t read much of them, I think the more frightening genres like horror, crime, and psychological thrillers have gotten much more bloody, violent, and cruel from when I was younger. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing for everyone, but it certainly puts me even more off reading new books in these genres. I mean, yuck! Also, I’d say erotica has gotten more graphic over the past decades or so, which totally cements my ever wanting to read books like 50 Shades of Gray.

Moving over to the slightly less gory genre of mysteries, these too are a bit different today than they were when I was younger. It use to be that a mystery was just that – a mystery novel. But now there seems to be an ever widening divergence between the cozy kind, and the ones that are almost thrillers. Furthermore, the cozy ones seem to be much more flippant these days than they used to be. It is very hard to take a murder mystery seriously when there are kittens and puppy dogs in cartoon fashion on the covers, with titles that are supposed to be clever, but are nothing more than groan-worthy puns. Spare me! Give me something like an Agatha Christie, with or without the sly, witty, intelligent humor, over these pieces of fluff any day of the week!

I also think that the fantasy genre has shifted somewhat, and I’m sure that readers of this genre could enlighten me more. From what I can see, when Tolkien first wrote his novels, the genre had some magical elements, but except for some odd trees, most of the battles were sword fights. Today, when one mystical kingdom or creature has to fight an enemy, the levels of magic and unearthly powers are far more creative and refined. Sounds like a good shift to me, but correct me if I’m wrong.

As for romance… well! Where to start? On the one hand, it pains me to see that the bodice-ripper sub-genre has continued almost exactly as it was when I was young. We still see books with covers showing the so-called swoon-worthy, sweaty, shirtless guy in a “hot embrace” with a woman in miles of puffy skirts that somehow doesn’t also include enough material to cover up her cleavage. I would have hoped that this genre had died, but I guess there’s still a market for them. In addition, I’m somewhat baffled that it sounds like many of the contemporary romance novelists these days seem to still think that a woman’s only purpose on earth is to get married. Hello? Has the 21st century not reached you yet? I mean, that was all well and good back when Jane Austen was writing her romantic novels, but today’s woman isn’t sitting in her salon, doing needlepoint, and waiting to see if some Earl or Duke will invite them to the upcoming ball.

Thankfully, there are some books today that could be classified as romance where the female is independent, and self-sufficient, and just happens to fall in love, while she’s working on herself to become the best version of a free thinking person she can. I’d more than welcome more of this genre shift. Obviously, the romance genre today is no longer confined to heterosexual couples, as it used to be, and thank heavens for that!

As for literary fiction… I’m not sure. Yes, today’s topics (political, social, environmental, etc.) seem more diverse and complex than say, back in Dickens’ day. But boiled down to their essence, they’re still putting a light on the things that trouble humanity (or at least the book-reading public that have some kind of conscience). And since literary fiction focuses on “evergreen” subjects, I don’t think it has actually shifted, but if it has, it is much less obvious, and only in order to address issues that didn’t exist a century or so ago.

Bottom line: yes, I do think genres shift over time, mostly for the better; when they don’t, they do seem to stagnate. So, genre shift to me is a good thing!

Something to think about, right?

So… what about you? Have you noticed genres changing? Does that make you happy, or upset you?

This post is my 5th entry in the 2023 Discussion Challenge & Giveaway, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


11 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2023 #5 – Genre Shift #LetsTalkBookish #9 – #DiscussionSunday

  1. I agree that books have generally gotten more graphic in recent years (along with TV). I suppose that could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the reader. I think as long as there are books that are still less graphic for those who don’t want that, it’s okay to have options, but it can sometimes be hard to figure out which books will work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The science fiction genre has change a lot. Pulps form the 30s and 40s are more fantasy then science. Over all the writing style in books has change dramatically over the past one hundred years. Very few authors have a deep descriptive writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, more graphic everything! And I can’t say I find that an improvement on the whole. Even horror is far more likely to involve gore than it once did, when the chills were left a bit more subtle and we were expected to fill in any blanks with our imaginations. I often wonder if the current trend for reviving “forgotten” authors is that a large number of readers aren’t happy with the direction fiction has taken.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I notice in the older genre fiction I read these days (e.g. D.E. Stevenson) that the casual racism and classism is often jarring. It was just part of the wallpaper at the time, but now, although just a side note to the main story, it really sticks out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I saw and read you post last night already and it got me thinking about genres a little. Mainly about how I enjoy books that go across genre limitations. Adrian Tchaikovsky for example does that very well and I am a big fan. Genres are just that IMO, a limiting factor, boxing in and limiting authors to stick to arbitrary sets of rules regarding what and how they should write. Well, that‘s my two cents, anyway. I am not a big fan of assigning labels to things. Granted, though, it is very helpful to find reading material one likes. And I am sure that the framework of a genre shifts with the times. It makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said. But if we all think about it, I don’t think there are any books that conform absolutely and totally to only one genre. They all have elements of other genres as well, although they’re minor rather than major.

      Liked by 1 person

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