#Canlit recommends genre fiction

So last week I participated in a really fascinating discussion about genre fiction led by CBC Books on Twitter. Genre fiction is a type of literature I don’t read often and it was really interesting to hear some thought provoking questions and ideas that readers had regarding the labeling of genre fiction.

Among the ideas discussed there was one that really hit home for me: why when a book has the label of genre fiction is it automatically considered an “easy read”? There were a few people on Twitter who said that they did read genre fiction, but only when they were looking for something light. Why is that? Why can’t those books be as well-written as a regular fiction books? Another thing that came up was the idea that maybe the label of genre fiction was just a marketing scheme. A publisher, for example, might think that putting the label of genre fiction on a novel would release it to a pre-determined audience that would buy the next release in that genre. Similarly, some people discussed the idea of slapping the genre fiction label on a release which would automatically relieve it of the responsibility to sell well. It’s also interesting that there are some books like Life of Pi and Galore that aren’t genre fiction by label (though they are when you read them) but rather they’re labeled as “Can Lit”. Does a book get the “Can Lit” label, regardless of whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, genre fiction, biography etc., once it starts to get popular?

Just some things that I was thinking about post-discussion. What I learned? That I should get some recommendations of good genre fiction and try not to judge them as “easy reads.” Here are some recommendations from some book tweeps:

Essex County by Jeff Lemire

– Looking forward to this one as it’s on my Canada Reads list already!

Giles Blunt

– I was told to read anything by him. I’ll need a better suggestion at some point of which book but at least it’s now on my radar.

Mists of Avalon

– I feel like I watched an episode of this (was it a mini-series?) at some point and was underwhelmed. I know books are better than their movie/TV counterparts about 85% of the time, so I’ll give the series a try.

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

– Loved The Fionavar Tapestry when I was younger. This book looks fantastic. Can’t wait to read it.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

– Don’t know anything about her or this book – tried to find it at Indigo yesterday but no luck.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

– This was highly recommended. It’s on the list.

Paris Wife by Paula McLain

– I asked for some great historical fiction recommendations and this was one I’ve heard about from many different people. Going to borrow it from Kira’s mum. She was reading it at the cottage last weekend and couldn’t put it down.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

– Love Tracy Chevalier and historical fiction. Very excited for this.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Adam Shaftoe says:

    I was reminded of the twitter chat on Saturday when I found myself in a used book store that went out of its way to separate “genre” novels from its “literature” section. I may have moved Frank Herbert's Dune from the “sci-fi/fantasy” shelf to “literature” as a passive-aggressive protest.

  2. i'm so happy to stumble across this blog! i'm spending the summer doing nothing but swimming and reading and was looking for some good recs!

  3. So glad to hear! I just finished “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by Heather O'Neill and it was simply fantastic. It's a must read 🙂 Be sure to check out my review that I'll be posting later today.

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