I recently started reading a book.
I recently stopped reading above mentioned book.
Why? Because I kept getting the characters mixed up with planks of wood. And I find it extremely difficult to get emotionally attached to a plank of wood. And if I’m not emotionally attached, I’m not invested in what happens to them. And if I’m not invested in what happens to them, WHY AM I READING THIS??
Characters are, in my humble opinion, astronomically important. Reading a book with flat wooden characters always reminds me all the more strongly of this fact.
Thus I have prepared a post to recognize books whose characters are worthy of note. Maybe so that you can read them and so avoid books populated by planks of wood. Maybe just because I’m homesick for good characters and want an excuse to talk about them.
1. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The characters in this book quirky and quite humorous- but they also have such lovely, sad, sweet hearts and I want to hug them all. (See also: every other book by Kate DiCamillo.)
Flora: A cynic who reads comic books and knows a lot about all the terrible things that can happen to you.
Ulysses: A super-hero squirrel who writes poetry and got his powers from a vacuum cleaner, naturally.
William Spiver: A boy suffering from temporary blindness induced by trauma.
“I prefer to be called William Spiver. It distinguishes me from the multiplicity of Williams in the world.”
2. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This book is full of lovable, amusing characters, but I’ll spare you and just list a few.
Sticky Washington: A boy who is entirely bald, has a photographic memory, and is afraid of not being wanted.
Constance Contraire: A girl who is very short, very stubborn, and enjoys making up impudent poems on the spot.
Number Two: A woman who bears a strong resemblance to a pencil and is always eating snacks.
S.Q. Pedalian: A “bad guy” who is not particularly bright and not particularly bad.
“Do you remember this question from the first test? It reads, ‘What is wrong with this statement.’ And do you know what Constance wrote in reply? She wrote, ‘What is wrong with you?'”
3. Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
This book is written entirely in letters between two characters, Ollie and Moritz. There were a few things I didn’t really like about this book, but the two main characters had such distinct voices and personalities and I loved them both.
Ollie: A hyper, depressed, ray-of-sunshine boy who has seizures whenever he is near anything electric.
Moritz: A sullen, lofty sort of boy who was born without eyes.
“Wait, how do most people make friends? I’ve only done it once. There has to be an easier way of going about it than getting thrown around and bleeding all over the place. But both of us went through that. So maybe…
Nosebleeds = Friendship Maybe friends are drawn to bloodshed. You know. Like sharks.”
4. The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
I’ve read three books by Carol Kendall and if there’s one thing she excels at it is creating characters who almost instantly endear you to them. This is my favorite of her books and the characters are my favorite of her characters.
Muggles: A quiet sort of Minnipin who keeps her stuff in piles all over the house, which may seem chaotic, but she always knows where everything is.
Walter the Earl: Who has the best interpretation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” that I have ever heard.
Gummy: An idle sort of chap who often wears a dreamy expression and is fond of writing scribbles (poems).
“If you don’t look for Trouble, how can you know it’s there?”
5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender is one of my favorite characters in any book. He’s so well written, so complex and ruthless and broken and- and-
Someone please give this child a hug.
BUT NOT IF YOU HAVE SOME ULTERIOR MOTIVE AND YOU’RE MANIPULATING HIM BECAUSE HE’S HAD ENOUGH OF THAT THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Ender: MY CHILD. My poor, brutal, genius, war general child.
Colonel Graff: Whose job is DESTROYING POOR CHILDRENS’ LIVES. I want to punch him in the nose, but also I’m strangely attached to him? And his snarky conversations with Anderson make me chuckle and then I have to remind myself that I hate this guy.
Valentine: Who actually cares about Ender, what a concept. Also takes over the world with her psycho brother via blogging and such. Not saying that’s why I first started blogging but… Yes, I’m taking over the world.
“Being here alone with nothing to do, I’ve been thinking about myself, too. Trying to understand why I hate myself so badly.”
6. Anything by Charles Dickens
Dickens just… he seems to create characters as easily as making toast. Every book is so heavily populated and yet each character is colorful and interesting. His characters can be quirky and over the top, but somehow they’re not unbelievable. They’re all incredibly human. And hilarious.
A few favorites:
John Chivery (from Little Dorrit): A young man who is always making up inscriptions to be written on his tombstone.
Herbert Pocket (from Great Expectations): A wonderful friend. Not so wonderful at handling finances.
Smike (from Nicholas Nickleby): The sweetest, saddest child who doesn’t deserve all the pain and suffering Dickens enjoys heaping upon him.
The Artful Dodger (from Oliver Twist): I mean… He’s the Artful Dodger. What else is there to say?
“Here lie the mortal remains of JOHN CHIVERY, Never anything worth mentioning, Who died about the end of the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six, Of a broken heart, Requesting with his last breath that the word AMY might be inscribed over his ashes, Which was accordingly directed to be done, By his afflicted parents.”
7. The Harry Potter Series
When it comes to characters, I feel like J.K. Rowling is basically the modern day Dickens. This series has SO MANY characters and, further more, so many EXCELLENT characters. Some books work really hard developing the main characters and the side characters fall by the wayside- other books have bland, boring main character surrounded by witty and amusing side-kicks. But I love Harry, Hermione, and Ron AND so many secondary characters.
Neville Longbottom: This post is just full of my children, isn’t it? I love the growth of Neville’s character throughout the series, and the St. Mungo’s scene in The Order of the Phoenix… Excuse me a moment will I go get a mop for all my tears.
Percy Weasely: Self-important, pompous, ambitious, BUT DEEP DOWN HE CARES SO MUCH EVEN IF IT TAKES HIM 7 BOOKS TO REALIZE IT. Bless his heart.
Luna Lovegood: How can you not love Luna? She’s so dreamy and sweet and smart and odd without really seeming to know it. She wears radish earrings. She’s lovely.
Remus Lupin: LUUUUPPPPIIIINNNNNNNNNN. So sweet, so lonely, so SAD. So wonderful. *cries*
And Tonks! And McGonagall! And Oliver Wood! And-
Ok, I need to stop now.
Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.
“I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy,” he stammered.
8. The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
This book is… my jam.
Which is really saying something because I will NOT, on pain of death, eat peanut butter. Which means that jam is twice as important to me as it is to normal people. I have eaten many a jam sandwich in my life.
But back to books.
The characters in this book are tremendously witty and entertaining and… they eat baked beans so what more could you ever want?
Barbara Grahame: Clever, quick thinking, but by no means obnoxiously confident and invincible. Often anxious. Will keep a level head long enough to outwit her opponent and then quite possibly cry afterwards.
Richard Grahame: Barbara’s older brother. I believe I’ve mentioned one or two (or seven) times on this blog that I am partial to siblings in stories. He enjoys tormenting Barbara about a certain someone…
Peaceable Sherwood: British spy. Witty, impudent, clever. Just…. unfailingly entertaining.
“How did you ever happen to remember that I might be hungry? But of course you would. Will you mind very much if I run myself into serious difficulties now and again after we are married, just for the pleasure of seeing you rise to the occasion?”
There you have it! What say you on the subject of characters? Will you put up with planks of wood, or are they cause enough to abandon a book? What are some of the best populated books you’ve read? Who are your favorite book characters? Do tell!!