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Popular Book Genres Around The World

Books have been teaching and inspiring people for hundreds of years, so World Book Day is more than a well-deserved celebration.

To honour the day, ‘Study in Switzerland’ has done some in-depth research into the most popular book genres worldwide.

In the world of literature, there are many different types of books. Diverse genres cater to different consumers to meet a range of needs. Poetry appeals to certain readers, while mystery and romance appeal to others. But what are the most popular book genres and what do people read across the world?

Key Take Away Points

  • Romance, classic, and poetry books are at the top of the list in popularity among readers worldwide.
  • You are far more likely to find classic books in the homes of English-speaking countries.
  • Horror books are the most popular book genre in Latin countries, whereas fantasy books are the most popular in Europe.
  • Asians searched on the internet for “poetry books” more than any other book genre.
  • The thriller novel genre rules supreme in Dutch-speaking countries, whereas Norwegian readers choose crime fiction above other genres.

Romance Books Are Hogging the Limelight

What is your preferred literature genre? You’re not alone if you said poetry, classics, or romance novels. These three genres, according to our data, are at the top of the popularity list among readers globally, with Romance dominating and outselling fantasy, classics, poetry, adventure books, and all other genres. Given their nickname “city of love,” it’s easy to believe that the French enjoy romance novels. Apart from its magnificent beauty and incredibly romantic culture, it is also home to some of the world’s best love stories.

Classics Are Most Popular in English Speaking Countries

While all countries cherish their classics, our research shows that English-speaking countries have a particularly high level of interest and enthusiasm for their cultural history. This is especially true in England, where a significant number of authors are now considered classics. As a result, English readers are more inclined to read books set in their own nation.

Fantasy is Popular in Europe

It’s not surprising that Europeans appreciate a good fantasy novel, and who can blame them? The love of the intricate world-building that the authors create for an audience to immerse themselves in these stories.

The fact that most fantasy stories focus entirely on European-inspired places is perhaps the main reason for this genre’s popularity in Europe. They are popular and widely appealing to readers of all ages since they take place in fantastical realms full of adventure. If you look at the most well-known books and series of all time, you’ll see that the fantasy genre is at the top of the list. The Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are just a few examples.

Dutch Thrillers Are Alive and Well

The Dutch tend to enjoy reading suspenseful novels with unexpected twists and turns. Thriller books are thriving in the Netherlands and Belgium, as one might expect from the country that gave us thrillers such as The Vanishing (see the Dutch original) adapted from the novella The Golden Egg (1984) by Tim Krabbé.

Nordics Love of Crime

Reading criminal stories, particularly at Easter, is as prevalent in Norway as eating chocolate and skiing. Easter for Norwegians, means drowning in mystery fiction between shovelling snow and skiing on it. When they don’t have a book to read, their families can watch a variety of crime thrillers and horror films on Norwegian television.

Asia is Poetry’s No.1 Fan

When it comes to poetry, Asian countries have a rich history and are passionate about their poets. Poetry books are the most popular book genre in Asian countries (according to Study in Switzerland’s research). It’s only natural to assume that it’s due in part to a sense of national pride at having produced such notable and internationally recognized poets as Lu You, Li Bai, Wang Wei, and others.

Poems by Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen are among the most well-known poets in the world, so it’s no surprise that poetry is also a very popular genre among Canadians.

Adventure Books

Adventure books may not be as popular or well-known these days, but readers in Turkey, Australia, and Korea think otherwise. When it comes to amusement and stay-at-home activities, these are the most popular genres of books they prefer.

A good adventure story transports us to a world we would not otherwise visit. We become invested in the characters and what matters to them. It’s perhaps all these unusual and different places that adventure books take us to that draws an audience in.

Horror Loving Latino

It’s no surprise that horror novels are the most popular book genre in Latin America. They have some of the best dark mythology, including La Llorona, El Cuco, and El Chupacabra, to mention a few. They also have a plethora of mythical monsters and horror stories to keep readers entertained for the rest of their lives.

In Latin America, ghosts are extremely popular. In an interview, Edwin Pagan, the founder of, stated, “Traditionally, we have always enjoyed ghost stories, the macabre, and Gothic tales.” “They’re simply woven into the fabric of who we are as a people.”

With 69% of consumers believing that print is the most enjoyable way to read books[1], it is no wonder that you may not be left inspired to get your old battered copy of your favourite book out and start reading again.

If reading about different cultures and their preferred genre of literature has inspired you to pick up your reading habit again, you might find these articles interesting. From 15 tips on getting back into reading, to 6 ways reading can improve your mental wellbeing, there’s something for everyone. So why not pick up a book and get reading this World Book Day.


  1. Two Sides, Busting The Myths Report, 2019
  2. Study in Switzerland

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