The Latest Book Trends

Janet Coburn
4 min readOct 22, 2023

(I shall begin with a digression. Actually, I can’t guarantee that these are actually the very latest book trends. I buy a lot of my ebooks based on newsletters from FreeBooksy and BookBub because they promote heavily discounted books, not all of which are, technically speaking, new. But most of them cost under $3 and, at the rate I buy books, I need to economize somewhere.)

That said, I have noticed what seem to be trends.

The first one is not a book trend, per se. It’s a trend in book covers. What’s hot right now (apparently) is book covers that don’t show faces. I’ve written about how men on the covers of romance novels are cut off at the neck (so to speak) or lost in the shadow of a cowboy hat, but these books feature mostly women on the covers. And they don’t have faces either.

The most common reason for this is that the woman or women are walking away from the person viewing the cover. (Bonus points awarded if the woman is wearing a red coat.) I don’t know why this trend has come to the fore, but I suspect it’s because the cover designers don’t like to draw faces or don’t want to read enough of the book to learn what the main character looks like. Or maybe the women are supposed to be all mysterious. Or the reader is supposed to imagine the woman having their own face. Like I said, I don’t know.

(A while back I noticed that there was a book cover that featured a man in a top hat walking through the rain, in the night, beside a wrought iron fence. In fact, there were two different books that had exactly the same cover. Both were terribly atmospheric mysteries or dark Victorian tales. I guess someone made the cover for one and an unimaginative art director tried to get away with using it twice. I noticed, however. But I digress again.)

Now, as to the contents of the books, I’ve noticed trends as well. When it comes to cozy mysteries, cats are perennially favorite characters or even sleuths. And Rita Mae Brown credits her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, as co-author of her mystery series. Cats are as popular as ever, or more so. Every self-respecting woman in a modern romance novel has a cat.

Many of those romances take place in libraries and bookstores. The trope of the young woman who moves to a small town to restart her life, taking up the job of librarian or bookstore owner and meeting the love of her life, after suitable conflicts and misunderstandings, is a common plot. (Librarians are no longer portrayed as lonely spinsters — mostly. There can be an older librarian as a mentor and confidante, at least regarding the book aspects of the story. But I digress more.)

You can easily see what’s coming. The romantic heroine has both a bookstore and a cat. And the covers of the books reflect that. In fact, sometimes the cat and the books are all that appear on the cover. The woman herself is missing in (romantic) action.

One other trend that I’ve noticed in romance novels (I don’t actually read them, you understand — I learn about them through reading blurbs) is that, although traditionally the stories involve reckless, passionate, consequence-free sex (the “zipless bleep” that Erica Jong made so popular in Fear of Flying), is that increasingly, pregnancy results from the sex. (No, I’m not saying that romance novels are getting more realistic. They still involve royalty and billionaires, after all. And men from Scotland apparently are popular now, as in the book titled Too Scot to Handle. But I digress still more.) The pregnancy adds an extra layer of potential complications, such as the impending parenthood needing to be kept a secret.

If you’ve noticed any other book trends, feel free to share ’em. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for a book that features a man in a red kilt walking through the door of a bookstore with a pregnant cat in the window.

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Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at butidigress.blog and bipolarme.blog.