Armchair BEA: Character Chatter

Time for my last BEA post! I’m off on a trip in about half an hour so this post is coming straight off the top of my head.

Characters are important to me while reading, but often when I think back on what I liked about a book it’s not the characters I think of. There are few characters that stand out in my memory as being significant to me in some way beyond their presence in the story. So, who are some of my favourite characters? I’ve always loved Mo from the Inkheart books, especially as he becomes more complex throughout the trilogy. As a kid, I loved that Cornelia Funke didn’t simplify or perfect the adults in those stories. I read Kafka on the Shore as a teenager and was startled to find how well I identified with Kafka – he’s one of the only characters where I’ve thought “Wow, he’s got, he’s me”. Of course, the major exception to my poor character memory is Tolkien. He has so many stand out characters in The Lord of the Rings alone. My standard response for favourites are Faramir, Sam, Eowyn, Pippin and Galadriel.  The only other favourite character that immediately comes to mind is Ore from White is for Witching. I’ve always thought she’d make a good friend.

‘Likeability’ of characters is pretty important to me. I love dastardly, villainous characters, and not all characters need to be likeable, but there needs to be at least one character in a book that I can get behind, however major or minor their role (hopefully they are a continue presence in the story, at least). I think this is why I couldn’t get invested in Game of Thrones or The Magicians. The characters were all terrible! (Though I did like Daenerys a bit… I’m still rooting for her.)

Ah, I’ve gotten this far and I haven’t mentioned diversity yet!  Only one character I listed as a favourite could be considered diverse >.> (Kafka is a Japanese boy in Japan, so I’m not counting him.) I’m a little ashamed to say I don’t actively seek out books with diverse characters…I appreciate and value their existence, but I just read whatever sounds interesting to me. I like to think that leads me to diversity, because I’m not interested in reading about the latest twist on the special white girl, romantically troubled cisgender man, or other cookie cutter characters. However, looking on my recent reads, I’ve been reading many books with diverse plots but with few diverse characters… I need to pay more attention to the diversity in the books I do read, and perhaps prioritize some of the more diverse books on my TBR shelf.

How important are characters to you in novels? Do you often remember them past the final pages?

  • Wesley

    I'm the same way with diversity reads. I need to be more conscious of it when I pick books, but I often forget!