fiction · reading · reading recommendation

Not Sure What to Read?

No, I’m not talking about the movie. You’re probably wondering, what is Pulp Fiction then? It’s a specific style of writing that evolved in the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century. It falls into five distinct categories which are defined by an aspect of exaggeration. It includes exaggeration of place, character, dialog, prose (i.e. writing), and action. There are some famous authors that wrote for pulp fiction magazines such as H.P. Lovecraft (e.g. Cthulhu), Edgar Rice Burroughs (e.g. Tarzan), Clark Ashton Smith (i.e. H.P. Lovecraft’s protegé), Robert E. Howard (e.g. Conan the Cimmerian, a.k.a. The Barbarian), and many more. Mainstream fiction has more of a steady prose and realistic descriptions of the world in the storyline, while those of the pulp variety encompass a world of extremes and make belief.

The era of pulp fiction (early 20th century) was the beginning of the main sub-genres we now know today as romance, western, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult fiction, thriller, and comic books. Before the 20th century, these sub-genres didn’t exist. This is the exact reason why you should start with some Pulp Fiction if you’re “not really into fiction” or haven’t tried reading since high school. That way you can sample parts of different sub-genres without reading an entire novel.

Pulp Fiction stories are short, full of excitement, suspense, and adventure. Characters like Conan the Barbarian (known as the Cimmerian), Doc Savage, The Shadow, and Tarzan came from this era. Movies are still being adapted and made today based off of these characters written back in the 1920s. Batman was born of stories of The Shadow and Superman of Doc Savage’s superhuman abilities. So, if you enjoy those characters and movies, you’ll enjoy reading Pulp Fiction. Why not check out a pulp magazine from the library or digitally today?



The information about Pulp Fiction was provided by lectures from Professor Paul Cook’s ENG 245 Pulp Fiction class at Arizona State University. He did not write a book for the class, so there isn’t a textbook to reference. He is a science fiction author. You can find his work here: and on Paul Cook’s Facebook page.

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