The Most Popular Book Genre

by Linh, Grade 9

There are dozens of book genres available to people nowadays  - hundreds even, if you count subgenres. You can choose from a variety of thriller books, mysteries, and horror, and you can even read graphic novels if you want to visualize your favorite characters. The variety of books available is very wide indeed. But so far, what is the most popular genre? What books have been trending in schools, libraries, and online?

Surprisingly, fantasy novels come short of romance novels. In 2023, Colleen Hoover’s book It Ends With Us was a bestseller, selling millions of copies and capturing the interest of many teens online! Her other books, If He Had Been With Me and November 9 also were trendy at around the same time. The common theme? They all explore deep, emotional, and romantic stories. 

It Ends With Us

November 9

I grew up on book series like Harry Potter and Fablehaven, both of which belong in the fantasy genre. They describe a supernatural world and follow a main character and their other friends as they fight to defeat an enemy. I loved both at the time, and still read Harry Potter. When I read fantasy, it is very easy for me to jump right into the book and imagine the things that the author is describing. However, I do find that fantasy can be predictable at times - you can expect the hero to prevail at the end, despite the obstacles he or she faces, and likewise, you can expect the villain to fail at their goal, whether it is revenge or world domination.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone


Romance novels, however, can give the reader a different experience. Often, there are two main protagonists. The story - and their love - unfolds slowly. Although most romance novels have a satisfying, tied-up ending, and typically end happily, there is always the chance that the relationship will not work out. At first, the reader doesn’t know if the two will overcome their battles and form a bond, and they do not find out until the end of the story. Some of Colleen Hoover’s books end in complete tragedy, which is what makes them so special. Sad endings can resonate more with readers, and leave them thinking about the “what ifs'', even after they have finished reading. Additionally, these novels reflect reality more clearly, conveying the message that life is not always perfect. Sometimes, circumstances prevent people from being able to attain a perfect “fairytale ending”, however unfortunate it may be. Perhaps that is one reason why they are very popular - the reader can empathize with what is happening in the story and become invested in the story and characters. In addition, the unpredictability of the ending, and the diversity of the genre in general, keep the reader captivated until the end.

Secondly, romance evokes very powerful feelings from the reader. Again, these novels delve into deep emotional experiences and relationships. Readers may feel a handful of different emotions, from happiness, heartache, longing, or joy. Although there isn’t a specific number of readers who cry after reading a romance novel, many surveys show that there is indeed an emotional impact. For example, a study by the Romance Writers of America found that 82% of readers enjoyed romance novels and kept returning to the genre because of the emotional satisfaction they experienced. Many book reviews online also show that crying while or after reading a romance novel is common! 

For research purposes, I went onto Amazon and read eight random reviews for the book If He Had Been With Me, by Colleen Hoover. In this book, she writes about the lives of two childhood friends, Autumn and Finn, who grow apart as they age. However, several events lead to the rekindling of their relationship, and their love progresses from there. I loved this book - I could not put it down, was emotionally invested throughout, and cried hard when I finished it! It did not have a perfect ending, but the writing was beautiful and heartfelt.

I was shocked at the amount of people who had similar experiences to me! Seven of eight reviews said that If He Had Been With Me “left [them] speechless”, “brokenhearted”, or “heart shattered”. One person even wrote that they “sat in silence processing it” as they finished the last pages. Only one person did not get invested in the plot, writing that it was too slow for them and that it was overhyped. 

I wanted to compare these reviews to another romance novel, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Greene. Although I have not read this book myself, I have heard raving reviews online and from some of my friends. I repeated the process and read eight random reviews, which were very plentiful (there were 161,171 reviews, 72% of which were 5 stars). 

The Fault in Our Stars

The first review was a whopping 961 words! The writer described that it was a “heartrending” novel, and wrote a detailed analysis of the entire plot. I have never seen such dedication on an Amazon review, not even from someone complaining about an EXTREMELY faulty product. The results were very similar to If He Had Been With Me, with six of eight people leaving positive reviews. One person described how it was “THAT book”, and that it “makes you laugh, makes you cry, [and] makes you sob and smile".

In conclusion, although there are many genres, readers seem to gravitate to romance novels. These novels are popular for many reasons, including their emotional depth and diversity, which makes them unique to other books and a completely addicting read. If you haven’t explored this genre yet, now is the time to begin - there’s a whole world waiting for you!