Different Types of Literature

Original image by Nina Hale http://bit.ly/1MsdID1

Many best seller lists, like the one of the New York Times, divide literature in two parts: Fiction and non-fiction. Yet, this doesn’t even grasp a fraction of the diversity that is modern day (and ancient) literature. Both branches, the “fiction” one as well as the “non-fiction” one, consist of many different forms and types of literature.


Knowing these different kinds are, of course, important for your own reading pleasure, and for recommendations made to others. Yet, when getting creative yourself, it’s also important to find out which type the story or tale you want to tell should have.


Following, we give you a by no means exhaustive or complete list of literary work in both the fictional and non-fictional field.


Types of Literature



Anthology – compilation of different works; also with background information about time period, author, intention, etc.


Classic – fictional books that became part of the accepted literary canon; often taught in schools


Comics/Graphic Novel – fiction told with the visual aid of pictures


Crime/Detective/Mystery – fiction about committing a crime, solving the crime, and the aftermath


Drama – Fiction written in a way that it could be staged


Fable – narrative with a moral; usually involving animals as characters


Fairy Tale – story about mythical creatures; can contain morals; usually for children


Fanfiction – fiction created by a fan based on a series, movie, novel, etc.


Fantasy – fiction that takes pace in other/fantastical worlds, involving suspension of reality


Horror – fiction that evolves around horrific and frightening events, either for the reader or the characters


Legend – story that has existed over centuries; based on facts but “spiced up” by fiction


Myth – story that is regarded as sacred and oftentimes as true; involves Gods or supernatural beings


Poetry – verses that usually rhyme and follow certain patterns


Romance – fiction with a primary focus on love and relationships; can be tragic


Satire – humorous take on a person, political, or economic situation; can be either hilarious or quite dark


Science Fiction – stories set around actual or imaginative science and developments




Autobiography – story of a person’s life written down by the person themselves


Biography – story of a person’s life written down by another author


Cookbook – collection of receipts


Diary – dated notions of thoughts, opinions, and happenings during the day of the author; private


Dictionary – list of words, their meaning, and – depending on the language – a translation


Encyclopedia/Lexicon – compilation of expressions, terms, objects, and other matters with a detailed description, history, etymology, etc.


Guide – collection of references or information on a certain topic


History – collection of attested happenings in the past, political backgrounds, economic development, etc. over time


Journal – similar to a diary, but open for other people but the author to read


Science – explanation of matters of science like math, biology, chemistry, physics, etc.


Self-Help – guide to self-induced improvement in all kinds of economic, emotional, inteleectual, etc. matters


Travel – compilation of a country, region, or city with facts, information, tips, maps, etc.