Let’s Talk Bookish: Genres Over Time

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was originally created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books starting in August 2019, and was then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion from May 2020 to March 2022. Book Nook Bits has hosted since April 2022.

March 24th: Do Genres Change Over Time?
(Davida Chazan @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog)

Prompts: 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 it worse than it was before? What differences do you see that make them better or worse? Do you think that the quality of genres follow certain trends over time?

I have to really make an effort not to let this go on too long, as this definitely feels like a topic I could ramble about for hours! I think the majority of genres – well, at least the ones I read – are better today. They’re more open, accessible and diverse. Genres like SFF and Horror were very male-dominated, and although Romance has long been written by women, all of these genres – or at least the most ‘popular’ works – were heavily white, cis and het.

The widening of this genres to more perspectives definitely makes them better. Some of these genres kind of stagnated in the past, with certain trends dominating them in very particular ways. But once you can introduce, say, a queer perspective to Romance, it nudges the genre open even more. And with the rise of self- and indie publishing, voices that were previously – and in some cases still are – shut out can get out there by bypassing some of the major ‘gatekeepers’ to publishing.

As well as this, I do think more books means more competition and it pushes others to do better. It encourages an increase of quality. This is twofold – people who have skated by on mediocrity can no longer do that when there are hundreds of better, more talented voices out there. However, it does mean that, especially in traditional publishing, it’s harder than ever for anyone to get published, and the first to get squeezed out are often margenalised authors.

I do think quality can follow trends, but I think this impact is different now. The market for self-publishing just over ten years ago seemed full of zombie books, chasing a trend set by trad publishing. Similarly, look at the influx of horror paperbacks in the 80s as publishing houses sought the next Stephen King. But nowadays there is so much variety and options genres as a whole don’t seem to experience these shifts as much.

So yes, I think a lot of genre fiction is better than it was in the past, largely because of the increase in margenalised voices and diversity in some genres (admittedly, some genres are doing much better at this than others!) as well as the fact we now have more options and choices in accessing books.

What do you think – are there any particular genres you think have gotten better (or worse!) over time?


2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Genres Over Time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: