Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

I’m excited to finally participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This weekly meme has been one of my favorites ever since I started blogging, and I’ve finally decided to take part myself. This week’s list is Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels; several of my picks are actually whole series, because a series typically has to be character driven for me to keep coming back for more. Also, you’ll have to forgive me for the time travel theme – I just can’t help myself. Here are my picks for this week (in no particular order):


1. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon 

I would be remiss if I didn’t include Gabaldon’s Outlander Series on this list. I mean, it’s pretty hard to not get incredibly invested in the lives of Claire, Jamie, and the rest of the ever-growing cast of characters in these novels. Although I’d probably categorize these books as historical fiction, they don’t neatly fit into one genre: they also have strong elements of romance, fantasy, and science fiction (time travel). The series has a substantial following of loyal fans, and I imagine that group will only continue to grow now that the Starz adaptation has seen so much success (you can check out the first episode for free here).


2. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis 

Doomsday Book is also a bit of a genre-bending time travel novel, in which Kivrin Engle hops into a time machine in 2054, headed for 1320s England. As you might guess, some unexpected things happen, and she finds herself in the middle of the Black Death. In short: Doomsday Book is a heart-wrenching look at the human experience. The book’s heroine is, of course, quite likable and relatable, but I became profoundly attached to the characters she meets in the fourteenth century (Agnes!). So. Many. Emotions.


3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Does this one really even need an explanation? I think not. Elizabeth Bennet + Mr. Darcy. That is all.


4. The Tudor Court Series by Philippa Gregory

Gregory’s novels about Tudor England are must-reads for anyone who likes British historical fiction. The Other Boleyn Girl is arguably the most popular book in Gregory’s Tudor series, but The Queen’s Fool is my personal favorite, mainly because I love its main character so much. Unlike most of the books in this series, The Queen’s Fool is not told from the perspective of a monarch/royal in the Tudor Court, and is instead told from the perspective of Hannah Green: the “holy fool” to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.


5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a post-apocalyptic story that follows a father and son through their bleak journey across ruined America. Driven by the father-son relationship, this novel is incredibly dark, sometimes disturbing, and emotionally draining.


6. Slains Series by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea was one of my favorite reads last year, and I quickly picked up its companion novel, The Firebird (you can read my review of it here). Like I mentioned, the books are more companion novels than they are a series, in that they are connected but can stand alone. I love the main characters in each of these novels (especially The Firebird), and I really like the way in which Kearsley connects them across novels – you should just read them to see what I mean! Highly recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction, romance, and fantasy.


7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking Series (the second is in my TBR pile), and is about a young boy named Todd and his dog, Manchee. Todd is from Prentisstown – where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts (even the animals!). Funny, scary, and heartbreaking all at the same time, TKONLG is one of my favorite YA novels that I’ve read in quite some time.


8. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Surprise! Another historical fiction/time travel novel. I simply love this book and its characters and can’t wait for the sequel to come out – you can get a short synopsis and a few of my thoughts on it here.


9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

To be honest with you, I picked The Goldfinch up earlier this summer and haven’t finished it yet. It’s quite dense, so when I got sidelined by school and wedding-planning, The Goldfinch got put on the back burner. However, I really enjoyed what I was able to read, and want to give it another shot so I can see what happens with its main character, Theo Decker (I got through a lot of his youth sequences, so I’m anxious to see him in adulthood).

10. Well, I didn’t quite make it to ten, but since I had so many series on here, I’ll call it a win! I hope you take some inspiration from my picks this week.


16 thoughts on “Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

  1. Some great choices and I’ve actually read most of your list – although still have the Donna Finch sat on my bookcase! I was going to put one of Jane Austen’s on my list – or I was also thinking Jane Eyre – then i got all entangled with Sherlock Holmes and Pip and decided I was going to steer a little away from my classics otherwise they would just take over!
    I loved the Gabaldon books – I read them a few years ago but came to them a bit late when there was already 3 or 4 already released. I don’t know if you can imagine how happy I was when I finished the first, loved it, and then found out there were more books already available!
    Lynn 😀

    • I had a similar experience with the Outlander books – six of them were already out by the time I started! Also (I’m a little embarrassed to say this), I haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, although everyone tells me I need to! It’s definitely one of the classics that I need to make time for.

  2. The Chaos Walking trilogy is so unique and intense! What a great pick. The River of No Return has been on my TBR list. I really want to get to that soon. Thanks for sharing! ~Megan

  3. This list is so excellent! I love love love The Winter Sea, and I’m sad it hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves. I read it not long after Outlander, and now I need to go to Scotland, ASAP. Also, you can’t go wrong with the Tudors and Philippa Gregory. Great list.

    • Thanks, Emily! I also haven’t encountered many other people that have read The Winter Sea, which is a shame! I honestly kind of avoided historical fiction set in Scotland for awhile after finishing the first seven Outlander books, so I was happy to find that The Winter Sea was different enough for me to not compare it to the Outlander series. I haven’t read one of Gregory’s novels in a couple years, so I may have to revisit her books again soon.

      • I reread The Other Boelyn Girl (for the billionth time) earlier this year, and it was just as amazing as I remembered it. I discovered both Outlander and The Winter Sea from my book club this year (you can tell we were on a Scotland kick haha!)

  4. Fun list! I don’t actually read a lot of historical fiction, but I may need to check some of these out. I know I’ll definitely be reading The Knife of Never Letting Go Now–I’d heard that it was amazing and sad, but didn’t know much else about it. Now it’s kind of skyrocketed up my TBR list, though. It had me at a town full of telepaths, but the fact that it’s funny seals the deal for me.

  5. Pingback: Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit |

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