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Nonfiction Book Genres: Definitions and Examples

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 1/20/2012

How do nonfiction stories differ from fictional selections? Learn more about nonfiction and as we identify and define the genres that fall into this category. Also included are literary examples of each.

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    What is Nonfiction?

    In itself, nonfiction is defined as subject matter which is factual, given as either an account, narrative or representation. However, “facts” can - at times - be subjective. As long as the writer believes what he or she has written to be factual, the work can be classified as nonfiction.

    As an example, literary.com cites the Bible. The Bible, like other religious writings, is considered nonfiction because some people consider the stories and teachings to be fact. Whether or not the “facts” of a nonfiction piece are disputed or even disproved does not change the classification. For this reason, nonfiction is actually a rather broad category. Here we will take a look at different types of literature which are considered to be nonfiction book genres.

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    Informational Literature

    Informational nonfiction literature is text which provides the reader, or readers, with facts about a topic. This topic can range from sports to animals, from adventure to history to the weather, from wealth management to travel, and so on. Here are examples of different types of media which are considered to be informational:

    • Travel books
    • History books
    • Manuals
    • Newspapers
    • Pamphlets
    • Dictionary
    • Book Report
    • Blueprints
    • Encyclopedia
    • Photography Books
    • Textbook Documents (Historical, Legal, Scientific, etc)
    • How-to Books
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    Biography

    Biographical nonfiction (also known as a "biography") is the story or account of a real person and the life they have lived. However, it is more than0440402409  just a profile. The writing covers the facts of the person's life as well as their experiences with those facts. For example, a biography could discuss where a person graduated from high school, but would go beyond simply mentioning the name of the school. The literature would also discuss what life was like at school for the subject. Biographies can be about people who have died or people who are still alive. Here are some examples of popular biographies:

    • Ordinary Genius: The Story of Albert Einstein, by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
    • The Story of Walt Disney: Maker of Magical Worlds, by Bernice Seldon
    • I have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King, by Margaret Davidson

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    Autobiography

    An autobiography is similar to a biography, except instead of being written by someone else it is written by the same person who is thelemonysnicket  subject of the material. The story is told from a first-person point of view. Occasionally, a person will hire a professional writer to help them write the autobiography. While authors writing biographies generally rely on documents, journals or personal accounts of a person's life, authors writing their autobiographies generally rely on their personal memories or sometimes personal journals. Here are some examples of popular autobiographies:

    • Cash: The Autobiography, by Johnny Cash,
    • Sharon Osbourne Extreme: My Autobiography, by Sharon Osbourne
    • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (A Series of Unfortunate Events), by Lemony Snicket

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    While each of these nonfiction book genres may be broken down into further sub-categories, these are the main genres most educators agree are important to introduce in the classroom. Look no further than Bright Hub to find information on the different types of genre in fiction.


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