Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels 

If you prefer character drive novels, these books are for you!


1. Fire by Kristin Cashore


Cashore’s first book, Graceling, is plot-driven (but also with good character development). Often, people find Fire to be much slower than Graceling, and I think this is because it is so beautifully constructed to reveal the inner depth of the characters.

2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

if i stay

Much of this book takes place in Mia’s head, but it captured my attention from the first page to the last. Forman’s writing is very lyrical.

3. brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl

Woodson’s autobiographical brown girl dreaming is another phenomenal, character-driven text. You won’t be able to put it down. This book holds a special place in my heart.

4. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly


Years after reading this book, I still feel like I am being embraced in a warm hug when I think about it. This historical fiction doesn’t have a lot of plot, but the character development will blow you away.

5. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

dr bird's advice for sad poets

This book is very character-driven, but unlike the others I listed, it also has quite a bit of plot. That said, I felt I knew James Whitman like he was a brother/son after reading this book. It was one of my all-time favorites, and I am consistently recommending it to others.


By definition, character driven novels are “stories where the emphasis is on characterization, inner conflict, and relationships,” so my choices are all books where the biggest changes and conflict can be found in the characters.

1. The Giver by Lois Lowry


Whenever my students begin reading The Giver in their language arts class, I always hear, “Miss, why is this book your favorite, it is so slow!” I then have to talk to them about how some books are character driven and not plot driven. We then start talking about Jonas and what is going on with him, and VOILA! they get into the book.

2-6. All of the 2014 AEWA Finalists and Winner

eleanor jumped winger milkofbirds openly

All of the books we honored this year are amazingly written character driven novels. Each is very unique but focuses on identity. (I know it is kind of a plug, but really almost all of the Walden books while I was on the committee are amazing novels that usually have a character-driven focus.)

Which books would you recommend?

RickiSig and Signature

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels”

  1. Oooh…some great choices here, as always! I have the Milk of Birds on my shelf – I really need to get to it. And I have been wanting to read Eleanor & Park ever since it came out – I still haven’t read a single Rainbow Rowell novel and feel like I am missing out.

    Question for Ricki – I have the audio version of brown girl dreaming but then heard it was told in verse. Do you think it will work/be good on audio or should i find a hard copy?

    Great list!


    Book By Book

  2. Great question! Personally, I would get the paper copy because it is in verse. But now, I want to listen to the audio version, too! I bet it would be a great experience to hear a book in verse in audio form after reading it.


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