Choosing favourites

Do you think you need to like a character for them to be a favourite? This issue often comes up at book club, as we like to record our favourite characters from each book that we read. For some people, the favourite is always the person/animal/creature/thing that they liked the most, maybe the one they identified with the most or the one they most wanted to be friends with. While others don’t necessarily choose a character they liked, but rather the one they found the most interesting or challenging, and sometimes this can be someone they hated, but who intrigued them.

We recently read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The character I chose as my favourite was Moira; she was strong and feisty, and showed the sort of characteristics I hope I would have if I ever ended up in that situation, minus the prostitution and the beatings obviously. Someone else in the group listed the Commander as their favourite, which was so interesting to me because in our discussions of the book, this character had also been referred to as the c-word (these girls really make me proud sometimes).

Looking back on the characters that I have chosen as favourites, I realise that I have a lot of trouble acknowledging that there can be a difference between characters that I love and characters who make a positive impact on the story. I don’t know whether this is because I’m a shallow person and can only find the nice, normal, decent characters interesting or because I genuinely haven’t found a horrible person to be the most impactful. When I think about characters that I love, they are mostly good, without being sickly sweet. Jo March, not Meg. Lizzie Bennet, not Jane. Gale, not Peeta. Damon, not Stefan…ok, my penchant for the bad boy is a story for another day, but you get my drift. My favourites always have a good heart, but also a slight edge.

How about you? Do your favourite characters need to be all rainbows and puppy dogs, or are you able to appreciate the interest that lies in pitchforks and darkness?

1 reply »

  1. I definitely do not have to like a character in order for them to be my favorite. Of course, I am not sure I would have chosen the Commander in that book. Like you, I probably would have chosen Moira. Sometimes even when a character is unlikeable, I can still relate to them or sympathize with them. The best example is You by Caroline Kepnes. It is a book told from the point of view of Joe, a stalker who is obsessed with a woman he meets at a bookstore. Believe it or not, I kind of sympathized with Joe. I liked him more than the girl he was stalking. Ha


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