I wanted to give you a little peak into my all-time favorite literary characters of all time. This will be a top 10, but my picks will be in no particular order because having to actually rate them would be cruel. That being said, these are just my personal preferences and they were incredibly hard to nail down. There are so many complex, inspiring and beautiful characters across different literary genres that it makes it really difficult to narrow them to just 10.
I assume that most people who read this are booklovers themselves, which is why I consider you have a level of understanding for my struggles with these particular piece. As I reader, I get attached to characters in books a lot more than I should and I actually sometimes feel their loss when the book is over. It sounds really strange to some people, but I think that is what differentiates the avid readers to those who are not so fond of spending time reading. I feel like some people have a much easier time becoming invested in a story or really becoming attached to its’characters (not all of them naturally….some protagonists I cannot relate to, however hard I try). So this list will be my homage to those characters that moved me the most or I related to the most. Lets get this show on the road!
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
There aren’t that many people my age who have not read the Harry Potter Series. Most of them have loved it. I was obsessed with the books when I was younger. I got the Bulgarian translation of the latest book for Christmas each year by my aunt and uncle and would proceed the spend the rest of the family party hiding in my room to read. I literally could not wait any longer. I feel like the story-line was only one of the reasons why people were so in love with the series. The world was so special – extravagant and exclusive. Everyone dreamed of getting to Hogwarts.
That being said, it was the characters that really made these books the enigma that they were. Every reader could find someone that they related to and grew attached to. I found Hermione so fascinating from book one. She was so confident, smart and proud and I thought that it was really cool in the uncoolest way possible. She was ready to sacrifice her own happiness (making her parents forget her existence!!) to ensure the survival and lives of those she loved. She was never afraid of taking a risk and always ALWAYS gave her 110%. Need I say more? I needn’t, but I will anyways. She is played by Emma Watson in the movies. That is the definition of “a match made in heaven”.
2. Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of The Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien
Hear me out. Yes, Frodo Baggins is the supposed main protagonist and hero of the epic tale. Hell to the NO. I am not particularly fond of our little hobbit friend Frodo. I completely understand the need to make him the way he is. His character needs to fail him at times to portray the internal struggle that we don’t see in most literary heroes. We see good men buckle under the power of the ring and that is why it is so dangerous. But then we get good ol’ Samwise Gamgee, who people seem to underestimate all the time. But he IS the main character of LOTR. He is also far more likable than Frodo with his faith, positivism, bravery, strength and undying loyalty.
I am not saying that Frodo is an antagonist at all. He is just neither the main protagonist, nor the hero. Hero goes to Aragorn and the most inspiring character to Sam. Manipulator of the book is definitely Gandalf and the ultimate antagonist (the representation of all evil/ the one with the power to corrupt hearts) is obviously Sauron. Samwise is the one that makes the reader believe in strength and bravery coming from the most unlikely of places. While the ring was never entrusted to him personally, his loyalty to Frodo and the strength of his character made him the one to actually ensure the destruction of the ring. He carried a weight that wasn’t his to carry and did not complain, but remained positive in order to keep Frodo sane. Best friend goals or what? Love ya, Sam! Read a bit about the story behind LOTR here and you’ll get my love for the trilogy.
3. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas
There really isn’t much explaining to this if you’ve read the books from the “A Court of Thorns and Roses” trilogy. In the first book we meet Rhysand and he’s just an asshole. Towards the end of the first book we get a glimpse of his true character and in the second book there is no denying how AMAZING he is. And I’m not saying this just in regards to his relationship with Feyre. Yes, he treats her like a queen and protects her, but the main reason he made this list is his borderline-insane loyalty to his friends and family. He has gone through hell to be able to protect them and yet all the hardships have not managed to break him down.
Through it all he has managed to remain caring, loving and fierce. He is not afraid to fight for those that matter to him even if it costs him his life. Yes, he is cunning, sometimes a liar and has the ability to manipulate people like it’s nobody’s business. But he has had to adapt to the way his life has turned out and he’s done so magnificently without losing sight of what’s truly important. (PLEASE DON’T DIE IN ACOWAR, RHYS)
4. Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is the ultimate #Girlboss. She is a rebel, she is quirky and she is undoubtedly awesome. I consider her to be one of the best feminist role-models for young girls. She represents a type of strength that every woman and man should posses and that is to be unapologetically herself or himself. She shows the importance of standing up against oppression and fighting for your beliefs.
Pippi makes a mockery of established gender roles and creates a new perspective on the ability of young women to make a difference where it was considered unlikely before. She goes by her own rules, making arbitrary “rules” for her appearance and actions that are in stark contrast to those that are socially acceptable at the time the book was published. All in all, Pippi is a badass and she ain’t afraid to show it.
5. Louisa Clark from the Me Before You duology by Jojo Moyes
You can probably see a pattern already, but I have a soft spot for the weird characters. Louisa Clark is a character that I got really attached to. The fact that my heart was permanently damaged by this book is a whole different story. But Louisa is one of the bravest characters in contemporary stories like Me Before You.
First off, I love how eccentric she is. From the way she dresses to her sunny personality, she is a ray of sunshine in Will’s otherwise depressing life. It’s impressive how she doesn’t mind people being judgmental towards her appearance one bit. She goes by the “you do you” mantra and I think all readers should appreciate that. But also she is strong. Knowing what she knows about Will’s decision, she stays and lets him into her heart. I admire how much she lets herself care for him even though she is aware she might lose him very soon. Loving without holding back in a situation as complicated as that is something I don’t think I would be capable of, which is why I admire her so.
6. Claire Bishop/Randall/Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
I love the Outlander series. It’s not my typical genre of choice, but I read it and I just kept going with the series. I will advise anyone to have a break in between the books because they are definitely not a light read, but they are otherwise excellent. Claire is one of those female characters that blow my mind. She is independent, iron-willed, decisive, spunky and courageous. What more can you want from a heroine? Not much, I think.
Her ability to adapt to her surroundings is astounding. She survives when all odds are against her and I think that is admirable. Even if she did not have to go through all the bumps that she did, simply living through traveling back into time is insane to me. I would probably die as soon as I have to set a fire to warm myself. But going back to Scotland of the past when she finds out that Jamie might be alive? Leaving her daughter behind because she believes that she belongs with him so strongly! You have to admire her strength and decisiveness. Power to you, Claire!
7. Jace Wayland from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Claire
Jace is one of my YA crushes. It probably has something to do with my love of sarcasm, but that is not all. He is a warrior with a heart of gold and that is my favorite kind. For someone so young, he has been through so much and that is perhaps why he has created a facade that keeps most people away. But underneath he’s really a sweetheart that wouldn’t mind putting himself in harm’s way to ensure the survival of those he cares about.
Knowing how Alec feels about him (which I am sure he does) and yet not making things uncomfortable speaks volumes for his respect of those he loves. Also not giving up on his feelings for Clary even when their relationship appeared impossible shows that he is always willing to follow his heart. Yes, he’s moody and sometimes rude, but who isn’t?
8. Rachel Watson from The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
You didn’t see this coming, did you? I’ll admit she is an unlikely choice for this category, seeing as she is a very flawed protagonist. That being said, at the end she proves her worth to everyone. While nobody believed in her throughout the happenings in the book, she kept going because of her need to get to the bottom of it. She is an alcoholic, she’s clingy and slightly obsessive at times, but it is these flaws that make her even more of a realistic character. She manages to overcome all of this and finally remember that she is not the antagonist of her own life. We witness tremendous character development and growth, which I consider to be inspiring.
9. Bridget Jones from the Bridget Jones trilogy by Helen Fielding
I think Bridget is hilarious. I mean the things she goes through are sometimes just so realistically absurd that it has made me laugh out loud. The manner in which the books are written makes me feel like I am in her head, which I found to be really refreshing. The diary entries allows us, as readers, to really have fun with her permanent state of confusion and glorious mishaps. But what I really enjoy about her as a protagonist is her persistence. Throughout all the BS she goes through, she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s quirky and chubby, and it’s funny, but it’s also okay. Which is a great message to send to all the lovely not-size-0 gals out there. She just makes for a really entertaining character who I really relate to. She doesn’t take herself too seriously and she doesn’t mind appearing unflattering or strange from time to time.
10. Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien
Unlike Frodo, Bilbo is actually a great main protagonist. Bilbo is smart and creative. He didn’t expect to ever have to leave the comfort of his hole, having spent his entire life in the Shire, surrounded by what’s familiar. Yet, when presented with the opportunity to go and live through something dangerous and exciting, he takes the leap and against all odds manages to achieve the seemingly impossible.
With his actions, he shows courage and ingenuity. Despite of his size, he is much more useful to the dwarves than they ever thought he could be. He manages to fight against his natural inclination to surrender and fights through every obstacle. He is also loyal to his friends. He protects them not only from danger but also from the dangers he sees within themselves. Anticipating character flaws and taking actions in an attempt to protect loved ones is admirable and inspiring. Unlike his nephew, Bilbo also seems to be able to confront his instincts and decide what to do next without being influenced by fear. Even though he was very much afraid to face Smaug, he weighed the options and did what was right.