Top ten character-driven books

Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday this week is the top ten recommendations for people who love character-driven books. Here are my picks:

  1. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – this is my number one pick, not only because the plot is completely driven by the characters, but also because there’s so freaking many of them, so it’s the perfect choice for someone who likes to read about people
  2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – ok, obviously a massive part of this is the backdrop of Tudor England and its political intrigues, but the true beauty of this book, and what sets it apart from other novels about this era, is the incredible characterisation of Thomas Cromwell
  3. Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple – the comic success of this book stems from the weird and wonderful (and hilarious and awful) cast of characters that Semple has created
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – without Cath and Wren and Levi, and all the other unique but believable characters, this would just be another novel about an awkward girl finding her feet in college. Instead the story is fresh and interesting and all kinds of wonderful
  5. Bliss by Peter Carey – Harry Joy’s particular brand of weird, which Carey is the master at creating, is the driving force behind this great book
  6. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler – an intense, dark, sometimes disturbing, poignant look at the inner workings of a deeply troubled family – it may be hard to relate to or even like the characters, but their attitudes and interactions are what makes the book so compelling
  7. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – this is one of those books where not much happens, but the protagonist is so well-drawn that you hardly even notice the passage of time
  8. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – the settings are obviously really important in this book – it’s a story of a Nigerian girl who moves to America – but the locations would mean nothing without Ifemelu’s voice, in particular, bringing these places to life
  9. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas – ok, the characters might be particularly detestable, but damn does Tsiolkas combine them well to create a fantastic story
  10. White Teeth by Zadie Smith – this book is all about the development of the lovable, but at times hopeless, characters.

11 replies »

    • Definitely buy The Luminaries – it’s so great, but you want to be able to take your time with it, and not have to read it on a deadline.

      Personally, I love everything Zadie Smith does, but I think White Teeth would be a great place to start – it’s so full of heart. On Beauty is also really great…


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