Every week the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish Blog give us a pre-determined topic to list our top ten books. This week the topic is the top ten books that are character driven.
I had to dig very deep to come up with this list and it took me really thinking about why I liked each book before I put it on the list. One thing that I found is that a lot of the books that I read are not exactly character driven in the sense that the characters are simply reacting to circumstances that are beyond their control due to the type of story or setting in the book. One example of this would be books that are in the dystopian or fantasy genre, due to the nature of the world and the type of conflicts I do not feel that these types of books are necessarily character driven. This is due to the fact that the plot line is driven mainly by outside influences and a lot of times the characters are harder to relate to in these types of novels. That is not to say that I do not like the characters in these novels, but as far as them moving the story along well, eh not so much. I tried to pick books that the characters are the main driving force and they are the ones who are making most if not all of the conflicts seen throughout the book. Now that my very long introduction is over here is my list of books that are character driven:
1) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- The women in this book are absolutely phenomenal. Their pain, joy, heartbreak, and turmoil becomes your own and you just want to reach through the pages to help them with their problems. This story follows a group of women who are trying to balance their old customs and traditions with their new found lives in Western culture. They experience a lot of ups and downs and learn the meaning of family. A wonderful book and you should all read it... like right now... go.
- Another book that deals with family issues. This story follows one women and her three children as she tries to raise them on her own and then later follows each of her three children and their families. There are lots of family dynamics, drama, and just general awesomeness.
- I don't think that it is of any surprise that Anne Tyler made my list twice. She is my all-time favorite writer and I just adore her work. Saint Maybe follows the story of Ian who blames himself for the deaths of his older brother and sister-in-law. Ian and his parents take in their dead son's three orphaned children who absolutely adore Ian. This is just such a heart-warming tale and offers some seriously scary insights into the dynamics of family life.
4) Shakespeare's plays
- I mean come on! Character driven to the max. All of his plays host a variety of different characters that move the story along, there really is nothing else helping them. If Shakespeare wanted a plot twist then he had a character make it happen. I am going to give you guys two specific examples:
- Othello, which is one of Shakespeare's tragedies. I have to say that Iago is one of the greatest villains of all time. He is just so cunning, manipulative, and ruthless. He just played every single character in this story and made them bend to his will using nothing else other than words. The premise of the story is that Othello is the Moore of Venice and is highly respected among his peers , he is also married to the beautiful Desdemona. Iago plans to enact his revenge on Othello by planting doubt as to his wife's faithfulness, so basically just by some well placed "clues" and some carefully placed words he makes Othello do the unthinkable. It really is a play about the fragile nature of the human psyche and is just so powerful. The characters make you have some major feels and they are the main plot movers and twisters. I highly recommend this one!
- Twelfth Night, which is one of Shakespeare's comedies. In this play at the time that it was written the audience would know that the girls were played by boys. So, therefore many of the jokes are funny because it is a guy playing a girl who is pretending to be guy; which in modern times is sometimes sort of lost in translation. This little scenario sets up many of the conflicts that arise in the play and is only expedited by the other characters who have their own motives. The premise is that Viola and Sebastian were traveling at sea when their boat crashed. Viola believes her brother to be dead and knows that women will not find work so she pretends to be her brother and sets up with the Duke. Well, the Duke is very fond of Olivia and sends Viola to whoo her for him. In a twist of fate Olivia falls for Viola whom she believes to be Sebastian, while Viola has fallen for the Duke. You can see how the conflicts are caused by the character's actions and their reactions to the other characters in the story. This play should have a laugh track because it is just absolutely hilarious and I love to re-read this play.
- No list would be complete without adding this story which combines the darker side of human nature, the danger of prejudice, the perils of judging a book by it's cover, greed, family, and love all into one heartwarming story. The character's in this novel are simply unforgettable and will stay with you long after you put the book down. I highly recommend this book if you want to read about some amazingly real and down-to-earth characters.
- Again, no surprise that this book made my list. I just adore this book and I loved every single character in it. This story follows Craig who suffers from depression and throughout the story learns that happiness can only be found in yourself. He grows throughout this book as he interacts with people from his high school and those that are on the psychiatric floor with him. Through learning about the demons that other people are fighting he soon realizes that he could be well and whole again because he has a family that will support him and loves him no matter what. Yes, I do realize that I have a lot of family centered novels on this list. Apparently I read more of those than I ever really realized.
- Anther classic that I absolutely adore. I just cannot get enough of this book and the two main characters have such a wonderful relationship. They genuinely care and look out for each other. George would burn the world down if it meant that he could keep Lenny, who is much like a child, out of harms way. I think that this book really captures the companionship, trust, and loyalty that siblings feel. There is just something about that special bond that would make you do just about anything to keep them safe and this story explores that in an unforgettable way.
- Now I realize that this book does have some fantasy elements mainly in the form of magic. However, it is the two warring magicians who have Celia and Marco fight each other that spark this entire battle. The magic is merely a means to an end and it is the characters themselves that make the magic happen. All of the characters in this story are so multi-dimensional and just seem to reveal themselves to you in layers. I also liked how intertwined the stories are to one another, it really brought the characters to life for me. Each character was just so significant to the telling of this story and there were no fluff or filler characters. Each one had their own unique role and made the story so special and fantastic.
- This one might be debatable because there is a fantastical world in which magic, witches, wizards, and dragons are an everyday occurrence. So, of course there is going to be some forces which the characters cannot control. But please let me plead my case. The main threat to the wizarding world is Lord Voldemort and the death eaters. He is the one causing the main turmoil and the fantastical elements are simply a means for which he carries out his plan, the elements themselves do not cause the conflict. The characters in this series are very memorable as well and many of them can be found to stand in for metaphors. Depending on how you view this series there are underlying darker tones throughout the novels that have to do with good/evil, light/dark, and life/death. Now the characters in the first couple of novels are slightly reactive and just sort of deal with the conflicts as they come, however in the later novels probably beginning with the third book and increasing from there the characters start becoming proactive. They move the story along and provide twists in the plot that are of their own making. They are the ones to make and carry out their own destinies instead of just sort of going along with the flow.
- I don't read a lot of contemporary novels so this one was definitely stretching the boundaries for me. This is the story of Cath who's twin sister Wren does not want to room with her at college. This leaves Cath with a roommate that she does not really know at a college that she never really wanted to go to. The one constant that Cath does have is Simon and Baz, which are parallel to Harry and Draco, and the fan fiction that she writes about them. This is bordering on the young adult/new adult line and is a wonderful story about finding yourself in that scary world of college. Filled with heartwarming friendships, new found love interests, some villains, and of course family (the good and the bad). I love the characters because of the fact that they made mistakes and were never viewed as perfect. They realized that they had shortcomings and were willing to make sacrifices in order to redeem themselves and protect the ones that they love. I have never quite related to a character as much as I did to Cath and I think that that is why this book makes the majority of my lists.