Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Character-Driven Novels

Each week, The Broke and the Bookish holds Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly booking meme. Most weeks, we here at the Monster participate because we love books, and we love lists. So anything that does both of those things in a blog format is something we love, and even better if it has, as Top Ten Tuesday does, blogger link-ups.

This week, we’re talking about character driven novels, though, and I’ve had a tough time deciding on ten to choose. Plot-driven stories or novels are mostly focused on plot and on-what-happens, while character-driven stories are more internalized, more focused on the characters’ inner lives and personality changes. Fewer things may happen than in a plot-driven story, and sometimes nothing at all “happens.” That’s the theory, anyway. I don’t really classify much of anything in the plot-/character- driven distinctions, because I don’t find them terribly helpful classifications. They’re fairly ambiguous, and most of the novels that I’ve read and truly enjoyed were novels that managed a carefully balanced focus that lies somewhere between the plot and the characters.

There are, however, a few that stand out either as extremely fixated on a single character (like my first selection, Invisible Man, which follows the narrator through years of experience rather than focusing on a central event) or in which the plot meanders in a not-completely-unpleasant way (like my second selection, William Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury, a multi-voiced, often stream-of-consciousness, multi-layered text in which the reader, like a detective, has to discover the plot). So here we are:

1. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison.

2. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner.

3. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers.

4. Red Dragon, Thomas Harris.

5. Peter and Wendy, J.M. Barrie.

6. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.

7. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova.

8. Beloved, Toni Morrison.

9. My Antonia, Willa Cather.

10. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden.



Leave a Comment

  1. Beloved was the first and my favorite Toni Morrison novel. I have loved her sense then. I have read a couple of the others and am add the rest to my long to read list.


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