Most big readers, myself included, will probably tell you that they don't like pigeon-holing a book into a particular genre. Whilst there are books where the genre is an obvious choice - like crime or romance - there are many more that cross over into lots of different categories and putting them in just one doesn't always make sense. Now that I've said, they can be useful for explaining what a book is about - so, if you're looking for something new to read, here's a quick guide to some genres you might not usually read and why you might like to try them.
Ah, romance - that most dismissed of all genres. Simply put, we class lighter novels as romance, or 'chick-lit' and other romantic novels that publishers deem to have more literary merit as 'women's fiction.' Because only women are interested in love, right? It's not like men ever experience it as well. Ignore the labels; these novels may be about love, but they're also about family, friendship, ageing and other issues we will experience throughout our own lives.
2. Historical Fiction
It's not all sexual tension building up to a flurry of flying bodices, or army generals discussing tactics (although you can find both, if you're interested). Don't be put off by memories of history classes - think of a historical fiction book as any other, just set in a different time.
No, not just dragons and swords. Fantasy is huge genre and what I mean here is high fantasy - novels set in a completely different world to our own. There are lots of VERY long series with dark, video-game-type covers that can be intimidating. My recommendation is to start with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas.
4. Magical Realism
Probably my favourite genre, if I had to pick just one! This type of book lives in our world, but accepts that our reality isn't the only one - so, there will be elements of magic but we'll recognise where we are. Best example I can give - Neil Gaiman.
This one is self-explanatory - and hugely popular. I don't know why we like reading about grisly murders on holiday, but they're great holiday reads. Can't beat a page-turner and a cocktail.
6. Literary Fiction
Basically, literary fiction consists of the books publishers have deemed as particularly well-written - these are the ones that win awards. To me, it's all a bit too snobby. Don't be put off reading them because you think it'll be boring, or you won't get it. Some are, admittedly, quite boring - but others will stay with you forever.
YA, or young adult, is an age group so it contains all sorts of genres. But readers are put off when they know it's labelled as YA, when they're not. Trust me, ignore the label on this one - there are so many brilliant books within this genre, you'd be missing out if you didn't try it.
8. Short Story
If you haven't got much time, but love to read, get some short story collections. Each one will most likely be completely self-contained so you can read one in half an hour and don't have to worry about not remembering where you were when you eventually come back to it.
9. The Classics
Don't dismiss the classics because they make you think of school and fusty women in stiff gowns. They're classics for a reason, and you can find every kind of genre within this genre - actually, you can find the book that was the beginning of the genre you love now.
10. Dystopian Fiction
Not the same as fantasy; dystopian fiction will be set in a different world to the one we know, but it's more likely to be a post-apocalypse/dictatorship affair. Think The Hunger Games and Station Eleven (two brilliant but very different books, both classed as dystopian).
11. New Adult
This is a relatively new genre (made popular by the rise of self-publishing) and publishers are only just starting to recognise it. It's kind of like a racier version of young adult; think people in their late teens/early twenties falling in love and figuring out what they want to do with their lives. But mainly falling in love, from what I've read of it.
Obviously, I can't cover the entire canon of world literature in one post, so this isn't even close to everything. But if you're not a big reader or a bit stuck in your reading habits, it's a taster of what else is out there. What do you read when you want to relax?