A novel is simply a fictional story that is told in narrative form and that is book-length. Novels exist throughout the world and have existed since it first became possible to print and distribute them. There are examples of novels in countless languages and countless different forms. Visiting any library, book store or even yard sale will result in you finding countless novel examples to explore.
A novel is a work of fiction that tells a story in narrative form. Novels, in some form, have been around for a very long time. In fact, since the 6th and 7th centuries, people have been writing long fictional works. One very early example is Daśakumāracarita by Daṇḍin, which was written in the 7th century. Many of these early works, however, do not have all of the characteristics of a novel as it has come to be known today and are often considered precursors to the modern novel. Contemporary readers enjoy many types of novels.
The novel has evolved over time. There are now different genres of novels, each of which embodies distinctive characteristics. There are, for example, some novels that are considered great literary works or "classic" novels. These works have become classics because they are considered model examples of the novel form: they are well-written and they stand the test of time.
Examples of classic novels include:
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Robison Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Some genres of novels are considered to be more "literary" than others or are more respected than others. One genre that is often looked down upon by those in the literary world is the romance genre due to the sometimes overly descriptive nature of its storyline. However, despite the possible stigma attached to them, romance novels are extremely popular and profitable.
Romance novels follow a classic form: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. They normally contain flowery descriptions of love and idealized versions of courting and romance. One publisher — Harlequin — has become famous for only publishing romance novels. Contemporary romance novels are both popular and profitable.
- Summertime Guests by Wendy Francis
- Suprise Heir for the Princess by Kate Hardy
- Stars Over Alaska by Jennifer Snow
- Reckless by Selena Montgomery
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- The Next Always by Nora Roberts
- The Kiss by Danielle Steel
- The Sweetest Thing by Barbara Freethy
- A Second Chance by Ellen Wolf
Ironically, although romance novels today are sometimes looked down upon, many early romances are considered to be classics. When you're in the mood to read a romance but also want to devour a work of great literature, consider one of the titles below.
- A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Emma by Jane Austen
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- Tess of the D'Urbervilles by By Thomas Hardy
A related category of novels has also developed that is often known as "chick-lit." These books are not classic romance novels in that they may deviate from the happy-ending and idealized descriptions of love (although they usually end with a happy ending of some form.). They have female heroines who navigate challenges to find their way, often realizing that they don't need to be in a relationship to be happy or fulfilled.
- Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
- The Arrangement by Sara Dunn
- Get a Life, Chlore Brown by Talia Hibbert
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
- Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
- I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
- Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green
- The Next Best Thing: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
- Summerland: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand
Mystery and thriller novels are another sub-category of novels today. This genre features books that set up a mystery that has to be solved. The reader may be given clues to the mystery throughout the course of the book. The purpose of these works is to build suspense.
- First Family by David Baldacci
- Hit List by Lawrence Brock
- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
- The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben
- V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
- Sweet Dreams by James Patterson
- The Face: A Novel by Dean Koontz
- Kind of Blue by Miles Corwin
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The legal thriller is a subset of the mystery/thriller novel and was made popular by Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) and John Grisham (The Firm). Legal thrillers give the reader an inside glimpse into the justice system and the exciting world of practicing law. Readers are fascinated with these novels, which are the literary equivalent to television shows such as Law and Order and CSI.
- While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
- A Time to Kill by John Grisham
- The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
- The Last Trial by Scott Turow
- The Good Detective by John McMahon
- Burden of Truth by Robin James
- An Innocent Client by Scott Pratt
- Blood Defense by Marcia Clark
- True Intent by Michael Stagg
Horror novels are yet another genre of novels that is very popular today. Horror novels feature mysterious and often gruesome happenings. They are intended to provoke fear in the reader. There are many examples of famous horror novels.
- The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith
- Devoted by Dean Koontz
- The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates
- The Wailing by Kalim Ansari
- The Unloved by John Saul
- Salem's Lot by Steven King
- The Final Winter by Iain Rob Wright
- The Devil Tree by Steve Vernon
- The Sentinel by Jeremy Bishop
Science fiction books explore futuristic concepts in an imaginative way, dealing with advanced science that may or may not be possible, along with the consequences of how such creations would impact society. Popular subject matter includes alien-human interactions, intergalactic exploration and time travel.
- The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
- Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
- Burn-In by P.W. Singer and August Cole
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
- Contact by Carl Sagan
Fantasy novels explore magical worlds and alternate realities in an imaginative way, but without the focus on science that you'll find in the Science Fiction genre. Popular subject matter includes mythical beings, like dragons, werewolves, vampires and more.
- Game of Thrones by George RR. Martin
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini
- Moon Called by Mercy Thompson
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Assasin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
- The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
Many authors write novels intended for the young adult market. Novel examples that fall in this category can represent any other genre, with the caveat that they don't contain content intended for mature audiences only. Many contemporary and classic stories intended for young readers go beyond their intended target to also capture the hearts and minds of adults as well.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- American Royals by Katharine McGee
- A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
- The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
- Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
As you can see, there are countless novel examples, including many different types of novels that appeal to different audiences. To see examples of novels in person, just visit your local bookstore or library — they are everywhere. Many novels also find their way to television screens and movie theaters as well. If you're more interested in reading shorter works of creative writing, you may find that novellas are a better option for you than full-length novels. Discover what a novella is and explore the defining characteristic of this type of book.