Five Character-Driven Novels I Absolutely Loved


Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is perfect for me! I am someone who prefers character-driven novels vs. plot-driven novels.  The majority of the books that I loved and rated five stars have been character-driven. The books I chose to talk about in this post are just five of the many character-drive books that I absolutely adored!

Tin Man by Sarah Winman


I have talked about Tin Man at every opportunity since I read it in the beginning of June, and I will continue to talk about it for the foreseeable future.  It is a breathtaking story that is about an almost love story between two characters. The first half of the story is told from the perspective of one character, and the last half from the other.  There is not much of a plot to Tin Man, and the story truly is about the lives of these two characters and how they navigate the world both together, and apart.  It is truly beautiful.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller


I went in to Swimming Lessons knowing nothing about it because it was a complete cover buy, and I was blown away by it.  The story is about a woman who goes missing, and years later her husband finds letters she had written to him hidden in books throughout his collection.  There is not much of a plot to speak of and the story is truly about the ups and downs of this marriage, and how the wife’s disappearance affects the family. Each and every character is flawed and completely human.  I found myself sympathizing with each of them in very different ways.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


Apparently there are 166 characters in Lincoln in the Bardo, so it is definitely a book all about the characters! The majority of the book is simple dialogue and banter between the overwhelming number of characters.  It definitely takes awhile to get used to all of the voices and the unique way that the story is told, but once you do, it is truly a work of genius.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a story all about Eleanor and she completely drives the story.  This book is written in first person and it was an absolute joy to spend some time living in the mind of Eleanor.  There is a lot of character development and the reader slowly discovers why she is the way that she is and you start to completely fall in love with her.  She is not the only character that I loved! The side characters, especially Raymond, are wonderful as well.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


I’ll Give You the Sun is one of those books that is a perfect balance between plot-driven and character-driven. While I adored the plot, it was the characters that truly shined in my opinion.  I became completely attached to both Noah and Jude and felt every emotion that they felt when they felt them.  Jandy Nelson is such a talented writer and brought her characters to life. I appreciated that her characters were in no way cookie cutter and were individuals.  It was such a moving story!


Do you prefer plot-drive or character-drive novels? I would love to know what your favourite character-driven novels are!kkbLogo

50 thoughts on “Five Character-Driven Novels I Absolutely Loved

  1. Character is definitely the most important element for me. If there aren’t any characters I can connect with, then I probably won’t finish the book.

    For character driven books, I would have to recommend The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I just finished it last night. There isn’t much plot, but I love all the characters!

  2. If I have to pick I prefer character-driven novels, but my most favorite books all have a really good balance between characters and plot like The Bear and the Nightingale. Now I really want to re-read I’ll Give You the Sun, I think summer’s the perfect time for it 😊

  3. Character driven for me personally! It’s the empathy part that makes me enjoy reading. Of course those few books that have the perfect balance of both is my favorite 😁

  4. I don’t read many character-driven novels but Swimming Lessons definitely sounds interesting! And I have I’ll Give You the Sun but I have yet to crack it open. But your rave review is definitely encouraging me to move it up on my TBR!

      1. I’m so excited too! I bet it’ll touch my heart and I can’t wait to read a book like that 😀

  5. I prefer character-driven novels. I love a deep dive into the characters to explore what drives them and see how much they change as the story progresses. Plot-driven stories are fun, but I get a lot more out of the character-driven ones.

  6. I’m hearing great things about Tin Man, and I loved the characters in Eleanor Oliphant. That book could have been silly or cute, but it wasn’t, because the characters felt real.

  7. Character-driven. As a writer, character is what draws me in to a story; as a reader, same. Interesting book list and your breakdown has me adding more books to my TBR…I’m a bit mad about that (lol).

  8. Great list!
    I had Swimming Lessons on my tbr, didn’t realise it was a character focused story. I thought it was some kind of mystery. I guess the two things are not mutually exclusive.
    Eleanor Oliphant also sounds pretty good!

  9. yaaaay i’ll give you the sun <3 and i recently added eleanor oliphant to my tbr so now i'm excited! i love a good character driven novel – we are okay by nina lacour comes to mind, even though i only gave it like 3.5 stars :p great post!

  10. Totally agree about Lincoln at the Bardo. What a wonderfully unique work and I didn’t realize there were so many characters, but thinking back it’s not surprising, although I didn’t find it overwhelming.

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