Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Favorite Book Characters

You can really get to know someone by discovering who their favorite book characters are.  If someone tells you they ADORE Elizabeth Bennett, you probably already have an idea of what that person is like.  (Secretly romantic; values smarts and wit and propriety; holds themselves and others to a high standard; possibly lives in their heads a bit too much; is probably silently judging you; might own a cat, etc.)  (For the record, I do adore Elizabeth Bennett.  She just barely did not make this list.)  This person holds a very different set of perceived characteristics and mannerisms as the person whose favorite character is, say, Robert Langdon.  Which is different again from the person who just loves Rand al'Thor.

Of course, there are exceptions.  I know someone who is male, athletic, and extremely sarcastic, and absolutely adores Twilight.  To each their own.

Still, it can be quite revealing.  So, in the spirit of revealing Bookmark Dragon's soul, I compiled a list of some of my all time favorite characters.  I really struggled to narrow this list to only ten.  But I finally did it.  Characters are like colors.  Some are bright and vibrant, others' greatest strength is in their subtlety.  And as with favorite colors, what makes a character great is entirely subjective.  So this is my list, which is probably completely different from yours.  

But maybe not.  

10) Elisa in The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Elisa is wonderful because of her growth throughout this novel.  She begins the story as a struggling young girl with very little confidence, but she ends up as a leader with determination, strength, and conviction.  It's not a complete 180 degree turn around, she still has weaknesses, but that just makes her feel more human, and her transformation more empowering rather than convenient for the story, as happens in many other YA novels.

9) Hans Hubermann in The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
I can hardly talk about this book without bawling my bloody eyes out.  Suffice it to say, Hans is the kind of gentle and brave soul I both admire and am inspired by.  I'd like to be a little more like him.

8) Flavia de Luce in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Flavia is a kick in the pants.  She is sharp, cunning, darkly hilarious, and a poison genius to boot.  Oh, and she's eleven-years-old.  These kinds of exceptional characters either really fail or really succeed.  Flavia positively soars.

7) Gertrude in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
I wrote my MA thesis on Gertrude, so I'm a little biased here.   Gertrude is a difficult character to really know.  Her textual ambiguity has made her everything from a naive girl to a political schemer to a cunning seductress in film.  It's the variety in her possibility that intrigues me.  

6) Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Screwtape is intriguing more because of what he represents than who he is himself.  Screwtape represents a terrifying kind of evil: not the mindless raging evil we sometimes think of, but the devious, calculating, ruthless evil that is terrifying in its subtlety.

5) Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Caulfield's cynicism and adolescent angst and struggle is well known.  I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I was about Caulfield's age, and felt a reluctant kinship with him.  I've grown up since then, and I'd like to think that Holden could too, if he were ever allowed to escape the pages in which he's been so immortalized.

4) Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Several Gatsby films have been made, but few have really succeeded.  Part of the reason for that, I think, is because Jay Gatsby is so difficult to accurately portray.  He's that nuanced.
3) Matilda Wormwood in Matilda by Roald Dahl
I loved anything written by Roald Dahl when I was growing up, but Matilda was my favorite.  She's an extraordinary child in ordinary circumstances.  I may or may not have spent several hours trying to develop telekinetic capabilities after reading this book as a kid.  (I know what you're thinking: "As a kid... riiiiiiight....")

2) Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Atticus is quietly courageous and compassionate.  He's one of my favorite father figures in fiction.  I've always felt that TKAM was just as much Atticus' story as Scout or Jem's. 

1) Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series by The Queen J.K. Rowling
Clever, brave, loyal, and passionate, Hermione is the brightest witch of her age.  If I could be anyone from one of my beloved novels for a day, it would definitely be her.  And not just so I could attend Hogwarts and drink butterbeer.  

What are your favorites?  
(I promise to try and reserve judgement if you say Voldemort.)  


  1. Hans Hubermann. Oh my god. Excuse me while I go and cry.

  2. Bless you for including Hermione. This is an interesting concept. I'll have to think up my own list now instead of going to bed as I should. Hans Hubermann is certainly on my list. I really need you to read "East of Eden" so you can tell me what you think of one of the characters in that book that I love dearly. This comment sort of has no direction or point... just want you to know that I am reading this hear blog and loving it.

    The end.

    1. I NEED TO KNOW YOUR TOP TEN FAVORITE CHARACTERS!!!! East of Eden has been on my list forevah but it's one of those books that I always seem to think, "I'll read that when I've finished...." A thousand books later, and I still haven't read it. Keep hounding me until I do. If you say it's worth it, I believe you.


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