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 and visiting any library, book store or even yard sale will result in you finding countless examples of novels.
Novels, in some form, have been around for a very long time. In fact, since the 6th and 7th century, 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.
The novel has evolved over time, and there are now different genres of novel which embody different 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:
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 story line. However, despite the possible stigma attached to them, romance novels are extremely popular and according to statistical data, accounted for the largest share of types of books sold in the U.S. in 2010.
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.
Some examples of romance novels include:
Ironically, although romance novels today are often looked down upon, many early romances are considered to be classics. These include:
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 slightly from the happy-ending and idealized descriptions of love (although they usually end with a happy ending of some form.).
Some examples of chick-lit books include:
Mystery/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.
Some examples of mystery/thriller books include:
Horror novels are yet another genre of novel that is very popular today. Horror novels feature mysterious and often gruesome happenings. They are intended to provoke fear in the reader.
Examples of famous horror novels include:
The legal thriller is a subset of the mystery/thriller novel and was made popular by Scott Turrow and John Grisham. 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.
Many legal thrillers by John Grisham have even been made into movies including:
As you can see, there are countless different examples of novels and there are 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.