A good book is more than just a great story. It’s also about unforgettable characters who stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.
But what makes a character so memorable? Is it their particular traits or mannerisms? The way they talk? Or is it their different perception of the world? Maybe it’s a mix of all that and more. And when we find those characters, we can’t help but love them. Their quirkiness is what keeps us turning the page!
For this month’s reading challenge we’re supposed to read a book with a quirky character. That can be a hard task to accomplish because not all books have those types of antagonists, protagonists, or supporting cast. Thankfully, though, some do. In fact, this was the easiest month for me to curate a list of book suggestions because the books I’ve read which have included such quirky personalities are still with me long after I put the book down.
However, before I jump to the list, there are a few things about this month’s books you need to know:
- Unlike previous month’s selections, these are not listed by genre. Most of these simply fall into the literary fiction genre.
- Unlike previous month’s selections, these are not clean/Christian/G-rated material. I don’t normally seek out books with a lot of profanity or sexual content – that’s not my style, nor do I generally recommend them. However, the books listed do include some language, drinking, and sexual content (basically a PG-13 rating). So why am I still recommending them? Because the authors didn’t write these characters to be explicit for explicit’s sake, which I consider totally different. Instead, the authors wrote these characters true to form and that sometimes includes less than desirable behavior (let he who is without sin throw the first stone). I don’t know about you but I don’t want to read about perfect people! Good stories – the ones that stay with us the longest – are made up of real people with real problems!
**If you want to know the language, violence, and sexual content rating of a book, I found a great website that reviews books and offers a scale for that particular type of material called Compass Book Ratings.
- While it can be easy for us to read in our comfortable bubbles, I encourage you to give one (or more) of these books a try! The characters may not be someone you’d personally invite over for dinner, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of love or consideration.
With all that “upfrontness” out of the way, here are some of my favorite books with quirky characters. I hope you’ll love them as much as I did!
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heart.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words—“to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”
Six strangers with one thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be. What would happen if they told the truth instead? Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life. Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighborhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story. Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.
The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.
Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.