Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Character Names In the Titles

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

This topic was submitted by BookLoversBlog and Lucy from Bookworm Blogger – I hope I got those link right! – and is a surprisingly tricky one. Looking at my books on both my bookshelves and my ebooks on Calibre, what I thought would be an easy list proved to be strangely tricky!

I mean, Shakespeare relied on the names of his characters as the titles of his plays – and most of his best works (in my humble opinion) fall into this category:

  • Henry IV Part 1
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth

Gothic novels, likewise, relied on their characters’ names as titles, but perhaps shifting to eponymous antagonists rather than heroes.

  • Carmilla
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

But modern books? They’re not always so easy to find, but they do tend to be the good ones! Perhaps because I am primarily drawn into a novel through characters and it is the characters that let a novel stay with me.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Why I loved the character

Vivek was such a tender, troubled character, striving to find his place in the world and finally finding his own skin, even if only to die in it.

The novel and the character of Vivek are heart breaking, but also wonderfully generous and warm.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Why I loved the character

Howl was unquestionably a self-obsessed, vain, cowardly character. For much of the novel, he seemed to exploit everyone around him, piggybacking on Michael’s hard work and Calcifer’s magic…

But the revelation of his true motives and of the depth of his heart was wonderfully managed – and yet he never actually changed that much! We just realised he always was warm hearted. As well as self obsessed.

Gideon and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Why I loved the character(s)

Oh my! Although this was not my usual fare, I adored both these books: a necromancer and her knight, enemies and rivals from childhood, searching for hidden knowledge in haunted mansions. In space. And falling in love.

Gorgeous, fun … and so much skeleton!

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Why I loved the character

Klara was a wonderful narrator here, as an AI – and Artificial Friend – in all of her wide eyed innocence and her simple optimism that the sun would heal anyone, if asked in the right way.

For every objective mistake she makes in her pursuit of the sun’s help, she finds or echoes another deeper truth.

And the final moments were oozing pathos – a beautifully balanced tragic heroic quietness.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Why I loved the character

Whilst the novel offers no trite or simple answers in this bleakly authentic world, Shuggie – youngest child of an alcoholic mother and an absentee father, learning about his own homosexuality in a world of homophobia and exploitative men – exhibited a wonderfully tender love and optimism.

He was a deeply affecting and uplifting character, for all the novel’s bleakness.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Why I loved the character

Piranesi was, like Shuggie Bain and Klara, an incredibly innocent character. Perhaps that innocence was something that chimed over the last couple of years.

Anyway, Piranesi’s innocence does not come from his being a child, nor an AI, but a captive in a pocket dimension. A dimension that takes the form of an eternal and unending House with seas in the lower floors and clouds in the upper floors, which renders its longer term inhabitants amnesiac.

Whilst it took a while to get into, Piranesi’s quest for his own identity – and then his efforts to reconcile his identities – was extraordinary.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Why I loved the character

Hamnet was wonderful here, albeit a little precocious, but then the son of William Shakespeare and a fantastic re-imagining of Anne Hathaway was always going to be!

The merest familiarity with the little we know of Shakespeare tells you from the opening pages that this novel is not going to end well – and the opening pages of Hamnet, alone, calling for an adult to tend to his stricken sister is a tragic and moving introduction to him.

However, I did prefer the elfin, Puckish Agnes – the Anne Hathaway character – even more!

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Why I loved the character

Daisy was a great character! Deeply deeply flawed but over flowing with energy throughout her pages of the novel.

There was barely a character who failed to fall in love with her, or to fall under her spell, and I would challenge most readers not to!

Lanny by Max Porter

Why I loved the character

Another innocent child, another child who does not fit in – who might in a different sort of novel be described as neuroatypical.

Lanny represented that pure childhood innocence, the joy in nature and the woods and the outside that is exquisite.

And when he attracts the attention of the local Green Man figure, Dead Papa Toothwort….!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Why I loved the character

Oh Rosie – you sparkled in the first novel as the absolute antithesis of what Don Tillman was looking for in a wife. Bold, brash, vibrant and full of life, you were the perfect foil to his neuroatypical professorial routine.

Alas, you were cruelly underused in the second and third books in the series, despite them carrying your name.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Why I loved the character

Circe is one of many re-imagined female Greek myths that abound at the moment – I am currently reading Elektra by Jennifer Saint as we write.

Circe, however, under Miller’s penmanship, stands out as a character who moves from a dangerous, if innocent, naivety into a real power, and also a discovery of herself and of her truth. For all the men who belittle, fear and try to control her, she remained steadfast and unbreakable!

And as we say goodbye to January – how did that happen so fast? – and look forward to the Spring, please do join the conversation and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

  • February 8: Love Freebie (come up with your own topic having to do with love)
  • February 15: Books Too Good to Review Properly (I have no words!) (Submitted by Dedra @ A Book Wanderer)
  • February 22: Dynamic Duos (Submitted by Elley @ Elley the Book Otter)

18 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Character Names In the Titles”

  1. Such a lovely and thorough post! I made notes…. I do like the Shakespeare note and Rebecca can easily make your list for gothic novels too. Yes to all the Rosie books! Such fun reads.

    A few are still on my TBR, Klara and the sun, Piranesi… But I will still get to them.

    Happy TTT!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading why you like each of these characters. I recently read Circe and the character made quite an impression on me–Madeline Miller’s version, anyhow. I just love her books. The Death of Vivek Oji is on my to read list and I am looking forward to reading it even more after reading your comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these!

    Liked by 1 person

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