Types of non-fictions

By Navya

Book lovers consider non-fiction as a genre in itself. But have you ever pondered over the sub-categorizations in non-fiction? If you haven’t yet, visit a bookstore to discover a whole new world of book sections devoted entirely to non-fictions. Fiction and non-fiction are disparate worlds of thought. The fiction genre is sorted just into a few broad categories like science fiction, thrillers, fantasy, or general. But, non-fiction is as expansive as an ocean or the blue sky.

If you are of the view that non-fiction comprises only biographies and historical events, let me take the privilege to prove you wrong. In reality, non-fiction can take various shapes including documentaries, philosophy, science, religion and spirituality, politics, self-help, social issues, wellness, personality development, and the list goes on and on till eternity. Isn’t it exciting to have such a vast range of choices to choose from? And, most importantly, non-fiction entails information, education, and knowledge dissemination. If you are bored with fiction or want to explore more genres in non-fiction, keep scrolling to discover the options you have:

1. Expository non-fiction:

Expository nonfiction attempts to expose the reader to the subject by providing a detailed explanation of the subject matter. It can be anything. It can be a narration of historical events, explanation of a natural phenomenon, exploration of a fashion trend, or decoding political or economical trends and events. Expository non-fiction involves subject matters extending and not limited to History, philosophy, health, wellness, psychology, cooking, business and much more:

  • History: The dominant and top-selling genre in expository non-fiction is History. Not all history books are textbooks. History adds value to our life. The question of how we evolved into the present shapes that we are as humans is always a mystery. And, if you are one curious soul, who loves to know and explore the social, cultural, political, economic, cognitive, and civilizational evolution of human beings, there is no other perfect genre than History. History explains in a comparative and integrated manner the causes and consequences of significant events that shaped our lives helping us better understand our roots.

Books like “Sapiens” by “Yuval Noah Harari,”The Guns of August” by “Barbara W. Tuchman,” and “The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank” by “Anne Frank” are real gems in history. These books are testimonies of our flawed past and add a lot of value to the readers’ life.

  • Self-Help and Personality development: Out of all the non-fiction genres, Self-Help turns out to be the most dominant one. The name of the genre is self-explanatory. Self- Help books try to guide you through the bumpy road of your life. They are enlightening, educating, empowering, and assuaging. Self-Help books are both research-based and reflective. No matter what it is, millions of people rely on self-help books for guidance, mitigating fears, and diluting unnecessary or irrelevant overpowering emotions.

“Who moved my cheese?” “The subtle art of not giving a fuck,” “Atomic Habits,” “The Alchemist,” “The power of your subconscious mind,” and “Outliers” are the international best-sellers in this category.

  • Science: Human life is in its current form because of the advancements made in science. Not all readers find science interesting. But trust me, once you start indulging in science, nothing can interest you so much. Non-fictional science talks about the scientific processes, advancements, and evolutions made in science. While some science books demand higher intellect, a few others can accommodate even an average joe, so that you can pick some random science book and learn a lot about the universe.

Books like “A brief history of time,” “The selfish gene,” “On the origin of species,” and “Cosmos” are scientific wonders in this genre that every curious soul must-read.

While these are the dominant categories which cater to the non-fiction reader community exclusively, genres like business, comics, cookbooks, and parenting and family etc serve specific interests. There are endless other genres like arts, educational guides, travel guides, documentaries, economics, and social issues and much more to explore based on your interest and mood.

2. Narrative nonfiction:

Narrative non-fiction is stories that are structured in a factual manner, unlike consolidated systematized topics. Autobiographies and biographies, memoirs, travel literature, and journalism is a few genres that fall under narrative nonfiction.

  • Journalism: Journalism documentaries or stories are accounts and records of in-depth and dangerous investigations into ugly truths. This type of non-fictions is no less than detective or thriller fiction as they enthral and engage the readers with equally intriguing plots, turns, and twists, except that these are real-life incidents that are even more gripping and entrancing.

“Putin’s Russia,” “All the president’s men,” “Nothing to envy: ordinary lives in North Korea,” and “A dirty war” are some brilliant works of intellectual journalist scholars that provide deep insights into the major happenings in the past and present social setting of the world.

  • Memoirs: A memoir, meaning memory or reminiscence, is a kind of narrative non-fiction based on the author’s personal memory. As much as they are conflated with autobiographies, memoirs provide a lot more deep insight into the life of authors. Memoirs can provide a brief of events or incidents in the author’s life or reflect upon one’s life in general, as the case may be. The assertions, thus made in the books, are considered to be factual.

The recent launch of Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” is one best example of a memoir as she reminisces her roots and ‘becoming’ of the former first lady of the US into “Michelle Obama.”

  • Biographies and autobiographies: Remember, biographies and autobiographies are often mixed but both are crucially different. While biographies are records of one’s life written by someone else, autobiographies are life descriptions of the author’s written by themselves. Generally, biographies and autobiographies are life stories of famous, widely recognized, and notable personalities.

“Steve Jobs,” “The diary of a young girl,” “Trevor Noah: Born a crime,” “Wings of fire,” and “I am Malala” are the most adored and inspiring biographies of globally acknowledged, reputed, and notable personalities.

  • Travel literature: Also called, Travelogues or travel memoirs, the Travel literature genre is gaining prominence in recent times. Literature falling under this genre is typically poetic, insightful, and intuitive. Travelogues are typically personal journeys that are liberating, eye-opening, and meditative. This genre gives the readers a surreal experience through the perspective and eyes of the author.

A few top-rated travelogues worth your time and attention are “Vagabonding,” “Into the wild,” and “Sea and Sardinia.”

Voila! These are just a few most famous non-fiction genres provided with some popular examples. Remember, with the evolving readers’ interests, more and more genres and titles mushroom in the literary field. The list then may expand and go beyond the above-mentioned genres. It just replicates how expansive, continuously evolving, and unpredictable the non-fictional world is. I hope this list has equipped you with popular formats, styles, and purposes of each non-fictional genre, no matter who you are so that you find a perfect one according to your interest.



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