Genres 101: Today’s Lesson "Occupational Fiction"

Filed in Genres 101 , The Quirky Lover Posted on April 27, 2011 @ 3:10 pm 4 comments

Today, we’re going to take a look at books about jobs. For all of those reading with jobs, this just reminds you of work, right? None to thrilling, but hopefully we can change the way we see things as we envision “work”  through the imagination of some of our favourite authors.

There are all types of employment out there, but the tricky part in this area is finding occupations that are worthy of writing (and reading) about. Here are the major categories that fall under this ho-hum seeming genre:

Hollywood Novel: These books are recognized by their setting, Southern California, and the main theme involving the movie industry. Examples here would be The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins. This seems like a fairly wide scope when you can put Fitzgerald and Collins together in the same category, right?

Legal Thriller: This one is easily indentifiable by its inclusion of lawyers and the legal system. Curiously, Wiki’s entry on this topic refers to the justice system within these books as appearing to be an additional character in the story. This must be a result of the intricacies of the laws themselves as well as the brilliant minds that can twist them to fit an exciting tale. Of course, John Grisham is the king of the Legal novel, but others include Scott Turow, Linda Fairstein, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Medical Fiction/Romance: This includes stories centered around people in hospitals, ambulances, etc. Within the “romance” sub-category here, the stories are identified by über-smart, hunky doctors, with chiseled jaws and awesome bedside manners. I think these are more represented on TV, but I’m curious if anyone can think of bookish examples here?

Musical Fiction: This one had me stymied at first. How can you get music into a book? Does it come with an accompanying CD? But, as I saw the examples, I started to understand. Wiki describes these books as “music manifested through language”; that just sounds lovely! Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity would be my fave here, but other examples include Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I read an new author’s book last year that fit this ideal also, Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson, which is worth a look, if you’re looking for something different. There is something about books and music that  is intrinsic.

Lab Lit: This is a relatively new category and is one that attempts to incorporate realistic science and scientists into fictional stories. In this sense, I think it differentiates itself from Sci-Fi, as being separate from the sometimes over the top speculative version. Lab Lit can be seen in books such as, Cantor’s Dilemma by Carl Djerassi and Intuition by Allegra Goodman.

Sports Fiction: Yes, you guessed it! These stories feature the sporting world, and I’m sure encompass all manner of games. The only one I could think of that I’d seen recently was The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton; something about this book made it memorable, lol. I’m sure if we ask the men out there, we’d have other examples that fit but, well, this had a nice cover…

These were all of the sub-genres that Wiki had listed as “occupational”, but I think you could easily add in books that revolve around police (Michael Connelly is one of many writers that feature detectives, et al) and forsenic workers, like Kay Scarpetta and Temperance Brennan, just to name a couple.

While our own jobs may be boring, through amazing authors, we have the ability to live vicariously in fast-paced, heart-pounding, edge of your seat thrillers, romances, and more.

About Jackie

Jackie is a quirky mom, living in Ontario, Canada. She's a bookkeeper by day and a book lover by night. She also blogs at The Novel Nation and writes occasionally for Heroes and Heartbreakers.

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  • Nicola O. April 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Oh, there's a bunch of "sports lit" in romance – Susan E. Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Carly Phillips, Marie Force, Sherryl Woods, and just recently I discovered Luann McLane. Just to name a few.

    I also just finished Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet and one of the things I want to blog about is how she wraps each character's profession into their point of view. I really love it.

  • Ann Stephens April 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you, this is a good post. Especially Jaci Burton's cover. 😀

  • Sheree April 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Can't go wrong with a Jed Hill ("The Perfect Play") cover!

  • Jackie April 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

    @Nicola – Thanks for the list of sports lit! I think work is such a large part of
    "real" life, that maybe sometimes authors make it less of the story, but really, it does shape a person's (real or not) existence, right?

    @Ann – Thank you…I knew I picked a nice cover, lol.

    @Sheree – So true 🙂

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