I'm reading Yuval Noah Harari's book named Sapiens. The book is pretty interesting but I wonder if there's a particular word for such a book. It's not a novel, or a biography/autobiography and nor is it a memoir.

Wikipedia categorises it under the genre of "Non-fiction" but, I feel non-fiction is too broad to describe it. It's more like a Nat-Geo documentary but I'm not sure if calling it a "documentary book" is a great idea or even correct for that matter.

So, I want to ask the native English speakers and Literature academics what would they call it.

  • 2
    Non-fiction is correct. That's what the written equivalent of a documentary is. Of course, there are sub-genres. It could be, for instance, historical non-fiction. (This particular book looks more like it's anthropological.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jan 10 '19 at 7:25
  • One name for a broad overview of an extensive subject is "survey". In that sense, this book seems to be an anthropological survey. – Gary Botnovcan Jan 10 '19 at 23:04

As Jason's comment notes, the use of non-fiction is correct.

To expand on that, the broadness of the term non-fiction allows it to be used as an all-purpose term for anything that covers facts, real history, and real people. If a piece of content (a book, a movie, etc.) doesn't fit or can't be easily placed into a certain type of non-fiction, it is perfectly acceptable for a native speaker to use "non-fiction" as a default term and further clarify what the content is.

The term fiction is similarly broad and versatile.

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