An incomplete list.
Romance: The Romance genre is my absolute favorite. I prefer stories that are character driven and about the relationship between the protagonists. These stories can range from chaste descriptions of the sensual to VERY descriptive. Romance covers a lot of subgenres- but to really be a Romance it should end happily.
Contemporary Romance: These books are set in the present and tell the story of the heroine and hero meeting and the drama they go through on the road to love. They can be dramatic to very humorous. Book length is normally 50,000 to 100,000 words.
Paranormal Romance: Anything supernatural, vampires, shape shifters, aliens, fairies, witches, wizards, magic, ghosts, time travel, alternate worlds, etc. This is my favorite genre right now. I love reading about fantastical beings and their challenges in finding love. Book length is normally 85,000 to 100,000 words.
Romantic Suspense: Basically a mystery with the focus still on the relationship between the main characters. Terrorist, secret agents, murder, theft, bad guys, bad things… BUT the heroine and hero get a happy ending. Book length is normally 85,000 to 100,000 words.
Erotic Romance: Stories that really focus on the sensual! Very descriptive language and graphic sex scenes as the main characters explore the sexual relationship as they fall in love. Book lengths range from 40,000 to 100,000 words. Be aware that there are just Erotic books that don’t have a love story- so I don’t consider those romances.
Historical Romance: These books are set in a fictionalized past. Pirates, Cowboys, Victorian/Regency England, Scotland, etc. And once again the focus is on the main characters relationship and their bumpy path to commitment. Book length is normally 60,000 to 100,000 words.
Series Romance: Category romances like Silhouette and Harlequin to name some biggies. There is a huge range of story types offered by series books, sweet, sensual, suspenseful, historical… Book length can range from 40,000 to 70,000+ words.
Inspirational Romance: These stories focus on the main characters relationship with each other as they fall in love and their relationship with God. They can be contemporary, historical and suspenseful… Book length is usually a minimum of 40,000 words.
Mystery: Mystery covers a lot of ground… the past, present, future, detectives, gumshoes, police, etc. solving a crime.
Cozy Mysteries: Non-traditional sleuths like shop owners or hair stylists or witches etc. who stumble across a mystery and solve a crime. They often have a light romance subplot and little vulgarity- hence the Cozy. Book length is between 60,000 to 100,000 words.
Thrillers: Fast-paced, action filled books. Sophisticated weapons, cars, exotic locations, explosions, high death count and sometimes romance/sex are the ingredients of your average thriller novel. Normally ends with the bad guys getting killed graphically and the hero surviving by the skin of his teeth. (really, what a weird expression. lol) Book length is usually 85,000-100,000 words.
Police Procedurals: A police officer, or group of them, follow the clues and get the suspect in custody. They use records, surveillance, search warrants and often some unorthodox methods of tracking down the perp. Book length is usually 60,000 to 100,000 words.
Historical Mysteries: The story is set in the past (Duh!) and the sleuth must solve the crime with the technology available in that time period. This subgenre can overlap with other genres so word count and graphic content vary.
Paranormal Mysteries: These stories include any mysteries with an otherworldly element. I often categorize these books as Urban Fantasy too. Futuristic crime solvers, ghosts who solve crimes, supernatural beings who commit crimes… The mystery does not have to be solved with paranormal means- just has to have something other in the story. Book length is usually 85,000 to 100,000 words.
Hard-Boiled Mysteries: A brooding P.I. who has a complicated past and is normally a bit scruffy. But somehow he often has a sexy fem-fatale to rescue. Think Humphrey Bogart. There is often violence, profanity and sexuality involved in the telling of the story. The book length is normally 85,000 to 100,000 words.
Science Fiction: A science fiction story should have an element of realistic science involved. And then the author takes that idea and runs with it. They start with a fact ie. there are other planets, solar systems, space ships, cutting edge scientific discoveries, and psychic phenomenon, and then they expand on those ideas and tell us stories of space travel, aliens, and journeys to lost worlds etc.
Space Operas: These stories take place in space and usually involve space ships; life on other planets, aliens… really the potential is endless. Book length is usually 85,000 to 150,000 words and can include romance subplots and graphic violence and language.
Psychological Sci-fi: Exploring the possibilities of the mind like ESP, telepathy, and even futuristic politics. The often tortured hero/heroine has the capability of doing terrible things with their power. Book length is usually 85,000 to 100,000 words and once again can be very graphic.
Fantasy: Fantasy stories are usually shelved with Sci-fi, but they do not have to be based on any scientific facts. In this genre, anything and everything becomes possible. The world building is often very intricate and almost another character.
Urban Fantasy: Set in a contemporary world but with paranormal elements. Wizards, witches, shape shifters, psychics etc. going about their business in a world not too unrecognizable from ours. Often these books have a romance subplot and can be graphic in terms of language, sex and violence. Book length is normally 85,000 to 120,000 words.
Sword and Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy: This subgenre is usually peopled with mythical beings like gods and goddesses, demons and angels etc. and mighty heroes, heroines, magic wielders and warriors with swords trying to save the world. Book length is between 85,000 and 150,000 words. These books can be very graphic.
Epic Fantasy: Takes the hero and sets him on an impossible task in a world filled with strange and wonderful things. The challenges develop the hero’s character and often pose questions about the meaning of life. Book length can be from 80,000 to over 150,000 words.
Horror: Overwhelmingly gruesome and gory. A “good” horror story should scare the reader out of her wits (I can’t read them!) Mystery and suspense can be part of the story, but the whole point is to scare you silly. The stories may be mainly psychological, paranormal, ghosties, or slasher, blood and guts kind. Horror is normally very graphic in terms of images, sex and profanity. Book length can range from 85,000 to 100,000+.
Fiction: Mainstream fiction tells a classic story, like the rise and fall to power, or the fight between good and evil. They are likely to be assigned reading in high schools or on Oprah’s book list.
Contemporary Fiction: Family sagas, coming of age tales, stories of relationships and tragedies. Contemporary fiction can refer to anything since World War II. Graphic language, sex and violence vary depending on the type of story told. Book length usually starts at 100,000 words.
Historical Fiction: These are stories about the Spanish Inquisition, the English Tudors, and ancient Greece etc. They can be epic sagas and often revolve around fictionalized accounts of real life people. These stories can cross genres into Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, and Suspense… Graphic content varies. Book length begins at 100,000 words.
Romance Fiction: Romance fiction is all about the relationship between the main characters, BUT usually does NOT end happily! Graphic content depends on the story. Book length starts at 100,000 words.
Christian Fiction: Stories written from a Christian worldview. They range from every day contemporary to suspense and Apocalyptic. Book length can range from 45,000-100,000 words.
Chick Lit: Usually these stories revolve around a 20-30 something career woman and her relationship with friends, family and boyfriend. Normally told in a light-hearted manner and using popular slang. Book length ranges from 80,000 to 100,000.
Westerns: Cowboys, Native Americans, gunslingers, cattle rustlers, etc. The hero is a tough and rough man who rides out to save the day. Stories can be violent and sexually explicit but they don’t normally contain contemporary vulgarity. Book length is usually 60,000 to 100,000 words.
Adventure Novels: Spies, fast cars, cool gadgets, sexy women and ACTION, ACTION, ACTION! The stories can be set in a contemporary world, the past or the future or even another planet. Book length is usually 85,000 to 100,000 words and contains graphic content.
Young Adult/YA novels: These stories are written for children between the ages of 12 to 18. The hero or heroine is a teenager. They can be facing every day issues or saving the world from aliens etc. For the most part the stories won’t be overly graphic. Book length usually ranges from 45,000 to 80,000 words.
Classic Literature: A classic novel has to be OLD! Lol and a good story. Classics include Oliver Twist, Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men etc.