When The Plot Is Beside The Point – My 5 Favourite Character Driven Stories

I think most bookworms agree that a character can make or break a story. I can forgive a bad plot, or the lack of thereof, if I fall in love with the protagonist and their entourage. Suspenseful and action packed books can work with flat characters, but for me it’s always more important to feel like I’m reading about real people with interesting thoughts or personalities.

I particularly love it when authors break the rules. A police procedural for example is supposed to focus on the who, the how and the why, but I love it when the detectives are actual people and we get to know them outside their work too. Mons Kallentoft is absolutely a master at that and his Malin Fors series is one of my favourite reads.

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @Bionic Bookworm, and this time we’ll be looking at our favourite character driven stories.characterdriven5

There are plenty of books with character driven stories I love, but the first five that come to mind are…

The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn

The story follows Anna Fox, a woman who is housebound due to her agoraphobia. She spends her time watching black & white movies, drinking wine, talking to fellow agoraphobics online and spying on her neighbours.

One day she hears a blood curdling scream and what she witnesses drives her into utter despair.

Her character is drawn so brilliantly that although nothing really happens for a log time, the story is absolutely fascinating.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A sweet story of the blossoming love between the 16-year-old Eleanor and the not-so-popular Park who first develop a cute but careful friendship on the school bus.

Eleanor who is introverted, wears the “wrong clothes” and doesn’t have many friends has to battle with her own insecurities to even wrap her head around the idea that someone actually finds her interesting at all.

Both of these teens are totally adorable and I had a lot of fun following them around as they navigated the rocky steps of friendship turning into something more meaningful.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice loses a chunk of her memory after an accident and now she has to come to terms with the fact that she’s not a 29 year old newly married woman madly in love, but in fact she’s 39, a mum of three, and the on the brink of divorce.

How is that possible that the man she devoted her life to can’t stand her anymore? One of my favourite stories about relationships, how love changes, and what family means.

There’s just so much going on and Alice’s feelings are so relatable.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

On the surface Beartown is about is about ice hockey. When we go deeper however, it’s about the people of a small town, about mothers, fathers, community and how they react when something terrible happens.

Guilt, pride and ambition are threatening to ruin friendships and alliances in this story, and the community as a whole has to decide what’s more important: winning a game that would put them back on the map of Sweden, reviving their dying town, or to be decent people and maybe fade into nothing.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The series follows Kvothe, a smart and witty (a.k.a. wiseass) young man on his way of becoming the stuff of legends, someone whose magical abilities fill many stories and whose adventures fascinate everyone. Orphaned at age 12 Kvothe did not have an easy life, but thanks to his determination and wit, paired with his theatrical skills put him on the way of success. The story unfolds as Kvothe recounts his amazing adventures and epic journeyΒ (both internal and actual travelling) from being a piss poor street rat to becoming a student of the prestigious University where magic is taught like science, at the age of 14.

The third book is yet to be released, and I’m eager to see just what crazy shit this guy will pull, because I have no doubt it will be awesome.

Have you read any of these?

What are your favourite character driven stories?


  1. I’ve read The Name of the Wind and totally agree – the plot’s great but the character outshines it! I’ve read The Woman in the Window and I really love the characterization in the book. Another book I recently read and it instantly became one of my favorites is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – the story/plot is good, but the character and the way the author has written it is EVERYTHING.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard a lot of good stuff about Eleanor Oliphant! I added it to my list for the character alone, because the plot is not that fascinating on it’s own, but with her strange personality it seems fun! Thanks for the recommendation ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read The Woman in the Window! Her agoraphobia really defines this character. My mind goes blank right this moment (always at a bad time :-)) but I’m sure I read plenty of character-driven stories :-). Wait! Our Kind of Cruelty is definitely character-driven. And One of Us is Lying last year. Still really like that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yea, One of us is lying was pretty good!

      I haven’t read our kind of cruelty but i remember your review, and others seemed to agree so i got a copy waiting for me πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I might be biased, cuz Liane Moriarty is one of my faves, but i think the Alice one is pretty awesome!

      Hope you will enjoy the woman in the window too! πŸ™‚


  3. Now I’m absolutely kicking myself for not thinking of The Name of the Wind!!! The characters are everything! Kvothe is one of my all time favourite characters! He seems so dumb sometimes (only because he makes some really stupid decisions) but he’s brilliant for finding his way out of those situations. Great choices!
    Thanks for participating – added you to the list πŸ™‚


    1. Kvothe is awesome! I think even his stupid decisions make sense. As far as i remember by the end of book #1 he was only around 15 years old.

      This was such a fun topic, thank you for the inspiration ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohh I have the Woman in the Window and Bear Town (well the UK edition called the Scandal) waiting to be read on my kindle, I guess I better crack on then.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m more of a plot fan. Characters are great, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve read too many books where there are really great characters but nothing happens!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yea i think balance is the key.
      I noticed that when i read something action packed with a bit more flat characters my brain kinda turns off and it’s super relaxing.
      With these characters i get really involved πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post! I am all about the characters, if a book has flat characters it is really hard to get into! Good choices!πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same!
      Flat characters need a very good plot!
      Like for example i quite enjoyed The Couple Next Door cuz it was fast and kinda nonsense, so i didn’t mind that the characters were cardboard πŸ˜€


    1. Oh, i hope you do!
      It was such an unusual book! Well, for me… i don’t read a lot of fantasy, but i think was not the traditional style and the character was done so well!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoyed What Alice Forgot – such a great choice and thanks again for recommending it to me. Beartown is very high on my TBR list. I will be checking it out soon. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Funnily enough, I tend to read doorstop books during winter. There’s something about curling up on the couch when it’s cold outside, and reading a good book!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. i love a good character driven book! that’s probably one reason why i read so many contemporaries. i’ll give you the sun is definitely one of my favorite examples πŸ™‚ & i really want to reread eleanor and park!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beartown definitely would be on my list too. I recently read Us Against You and I am still not ready to say goodbye to the characters. I think I’d add A Man Called Ove on my list too because Ove is so memorable. Another character that comes to mind is Aminata from The Book of Negroes.

    I really want to read Elanor. Sounds like a beautiful story.Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m planning to read Us Against You quite soon! Meeting all those characters again is going to be fun πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the other recommendations, i’ll check them out!


  10. Out of all those books, I’ve only read The Name of the Wind, which is good news, because I now have some more to add to my reading list. I did a similar post the other day. It’s interesting to see someone else address the same question in their unique way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent list! β™₯️ Loved Eleanor and Park. Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. Many of the Fredrik Backman’s books I’ve read have unique characters that draw you in. I especially liked A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, didn’t like it?

      Eleanor & Park is sooo good! I love how the author posted the full playlist on her website. It goes really well with the book πŸ™‚


  12. The Name of the Wind is on my TBR. I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about it but – if I remember correctly – everyone’s still waiting for the third book? So.. that’s probably why I don’t feel overly motivated to pick it up. And if I remember incorrectly, I need to get my butt in order and start reading already, hah.

    Liked by 1 person

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