Top Ten Books for Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

October 7, 2014

“…everybody, every single person has a story to tell. Every single ordinary person has an extraordinary story. We might all think that we are unremarkable, that our lives are boring, just because we aren’t doing ground-breaking things or making headlines or winning awards. But the truth is we all do something that is fascinating, that is brave, that is something we should be proud of. Every day people do things that are not celebrated. That is what we should be writing about.”  — from One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

Character driven novels are my FAVORITE, so this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is speaking to my soul. Links go to my reviews, either here or on Goodreads.

1. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King — Vera’s relationships with her dad and Charlie drive this novel. Such a great look at friendship and secrets.

2. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice — This is a story about an adult child of an alcoholic who moves back home and attempts to have a relationship with her mother. Not that I could relate to it or anything.

3. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones — Awesome characters. AWESOME CHARACTERS. I mean, even the worst of them is sympathetic.

4. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr — Oh, this book is so honest and heartbreaking. All about family and forgiveness.

5. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen — It’s hard to pick a favorite Dessen, but I really related to main character Remy, so this one gets my vote. (Dreamland is probably her best, though.)

6. Sharing Sam by Katherine Applegate — This is one of my favorite books of all time, and it centers on a girl who is falling in love with the boy her best friend has a crush on while said best friend is dying.

7. Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger — The story of Samar, a girl who has to confront her Indian heritage five days after the September 11th attacks when her turbaned, Sikh uncle shows up on her doorstep.

8. Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald — Main character Sadie finds herself after realizing her crush on best friend Garrett will never come to fruition.

9. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby — I loved this story about lonely people finding each other.

10. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green — This one is all about what drives a Jewish girl in America during WWII to decide to help a German POW escape.

I think what I love so much about character driven stories is that they’re about ordinary people. I’m not really big on Chosen One stories or Extraordinary Individual stories because most of us are just ordinary and going about our day to day lives. Things shake them up, yes, but thinking about how we interact with our families and what our relationships say about us is what I really love to read.

(And, yes, I know that extraordinary individuals are usually just regular people, but stories about them become so much more than that.) (I have a whole rant in me about black biopics and how they send the message that regular black folks don’t have great stories, too, but just thinking about it exhausts me. So if you want to know what I mean by extraordinary individuals, that’s what I mean–that somehow you have to be special to have a story told about you.)

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  1. ChrissiReads

    Lovely list. I enjoy character driven novels as well. It’s nice to read about normal characters that can be utterly relatable.

  2. Cait

    I LOVE that quote. I just…wow. I just want to cut that quote out and hug it or something. x) I haven’t read Story of a Girl yet, but it’s one of the ones I really want to try.
    Here’s my TTT!

    • Akilah

      Isn’t that quote the best? The novel it’s from is good, too.

  3. readerbuzz

    I tend to think that women love character while men love plot. Probably an overgeneralization….

    Here’s my Best Character-Driven Novels!

  4. Mishma @ As the page turns

    Sarah Dessen’s books are the best examples for character driven novels.I loved This Lullaby and Remy’s discovery of love.The characters were so amazing-especially Dexter:)
    Here’s my list

  5. La Coccinelle

    I’ve only heard of a couple of these, and I haven’t read any of them! Not even This Lullaby (I’ve never read anything by Sarah Dessen).


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