1

Which is correct:

The most popular genre is romantic novels

or

The most popular genre are romantic novels?

2

Genre is singular. You are only talking about one genre. Moreover, romantic novel is no genre.

The correct sentence would be

The most popular genre is romance.

The most popular genre are romantic novels is wrong.

It would be correct when you are talking about more than one genre and also mentioning more than one genre. Like,

The most popular genres of the 21st century are romance, sci-fi, thriller.

1

Technically neither, as is highlighted by the problem that prompted this question: "genre" is singular but "romantic novels" is plural.

The correct wording is, "The most popular genre is romance." (I don't know if that statement is factually true, but that would be the grammatically correct way to say it.) The books that make up this genre are romance novels, but it's not quite correct to say that romance novels ARE the genre.

In informal speech we often use words loosely like this. For example, we might confuse a place with the inhabitants of the place, e.g. "Europe is mostly white people". Of course what we really mean is "Most European people are white" or "The population of Europe is made up mostly of white people." Or we might just lose track of number in a long or complex sentence. "Since its invention, the airplane has proven to be a fast and conventient method of travel, linking distant parts of the globe, and they are becoming increasingly affordable." (Note I shifted from "airplane", singular, to "they", plural.) It's rarely a problem in informal speech, but should be avoided in more formal settings.

1

The most popular genre is the romance novel. enter image description here

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