The Most Popular Book Genres

I could be wrong, but most – if not all – freelance writers dream, or at least think, about writing a novel and getting it published. Whether you’re writing content for clients, doing copywriting work, or even ghostwriting, the chances are that you have a novel somewhere inside you.

We all have to start somewhere, though, and one of the ways to do so is to know what genre you want your book to fall under. Sometimes, you won’t have to decide – your ideas and characters will come alive without you having much control with regard to genre. They’ll practically give you the finger and say “F” genre! Write our story!

Still, it is interesting to know what book genres are the most popular even if knowing doesn’t have anything to do with your novel-writing endeavors.

I found this lovely infographic about the most popular book genres and the best-selling books under each genre. Some may surprise you, some not. Why don’t you take a look for yourself?

The most popular book genres – and then some

Before we go to the graphic, here’s a quick summary for your convenience.

Children’s Fiction

This is not so surprising, is it? Children’s books – the classics and the modern ones – are always flying off the shelves. When the infographic was made, the total copies of children’s fiction books equated to 1 billion!

12 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Author Should Know

Can you guess the best-selling books in this category?


Fantasy’s popularity has grown drastically in recent years, especially with other media picking up the genre; not to mention modern authors being active on social media.

Fantasy fiction total: 350 million. A far cry from children’s fiction, but still a considerable number.


Mystery stories have always fascinated the ordinary person, with criminals and all sorts of shady characters being the focus. Life may be stranger than fiction, but in this genre, we get to immerse ourselves in a world that’s not impossible but probably won’t experience in real life.

Classic Literary Fiction

What is there to say? Classic literary fiction will always be on the list of popular novel genres, even if it’s not at the top, with “only” 336 million.

Modern Literary Fiction

This includes works by authors by the likes of Paulo Coelho, J.D. Salinger, and Jostein Gaardner – works dated after 1950. Total: 409 million.

Magical Realism

Magical realism has been a confusing concept mainly due to how critics (and other literature experts) have used the term. Author Bruce Holland Rogers has a great description of this genre: “magical realism is serious…trying to convey the reality of one or several worldviews that actually exist, or have existed. Magical realism is a kind of realism, but one different from the realism that most of our culture now experiences.

The most popular work known in this genre: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Historical Fiction

What’s the first book that comes to mind? I don’t think I have to guess.

Young Adult Fiction

This genre is fast rising in popularity, too, although it seems to overlap with children’s books at times. In any case it still is hanging in there with 70 million (with only two books taken into account).

So here, take a look at the infographic itself.

most popular book genres

If you were to write a novel now, what genre would you go for?

You Are What You Read. What Does Your Bookshelf Contain?

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3 responses
  1. Mark Spyrison Avatar

    Why was the romance genre not factored in? While probably not as popular as children’s fiction, doesn’t it outsell the fantasy genre? Is it because, unlike the genres you’ve listed, romance is regarded as more transient? Just curious. The article didn’t make the reason for its exclusion clear.

    1. Freelance Writing Jobs Avatar
      Freelance Writing Jobs

      The creator of the infographic didn’t really mention that, and now that you brought it up, I wonder as well.

  2. Lori Wilde Avatar

    Romance is a billion dollar industry. How can you leave it out?

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