The best books with a unique narrator perspective

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian author who has been fascinated with how others see the world since I was a child. I was captivated by Charlotte’s Web. If pigs and spiders could be having unheard conversations, what else was I missing? I delight in stories that invite me into the distinct world of the narrator, so it’s no surprise that my novel, Entitled, is written from a unique perspective—that of a book. When done well, these stories let us see life through the eyes of someone else. If we all experienced our surroundings, just for a minute, as others did, perhaps there would be more humanity in this world. 

I wrote...

Entitled: Life isn't easy when you're a book

By Cookie Boyle,

Book cover of Entitled: Life isn't easy when you're a book

What is my book about?

The extraordinary adventures of an extraordinary book.

Entitled is a charming, humorous novel told from the perspective of a book seeking to find a home. As it is read, misplaced, loaned, and abandoned, our book, like its Readers, discovers love and heartbreak, loneliness and friendship, and ultimately becomes the author of its own journey. In the end, Entitled reveals the pull between the story we are born with and the one we wish to create for ourselves.

The books I picked & why

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Why this book?

As a long-time fan of detective fiction and Sherlock Holmes, it was the title of this novel that first caught my interest. Once I started reading the book, the narrator’s distinct voice grabbed me and didn’t let me go. The honest first-person voice of a 15-year-old boy who, while never described as such, is presumed to be on the spectrum, took me on a journey into the character’s mind and thinking. Seeing the world, his challenges, and choices through his eyes allowed me a small insight into the life of those with autism. The novel was at times funny, intriguing and heartrending. It is narrator-driven storytelling at its best. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman,

Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Why this book?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine provides another entry into the viewpoint of a distinct character. As the first-person narrator, Eleanor takes you through her days, her thoughts, and her perspectives on the small and not-so-small details of her life. What the narrator is and is not saying makes this novel a master class in backstory reveal. How the author peels away layers of the main character, through her own words and actions to allow us to learn the truth is exceptionally well done. The first-person narrative gave me empathy for this unique character and again, showed me how many ways there are to view the world. 

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4

By Sue Townsend,

Book cover of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4

Why this book?

No list of narrator-driven novels would be complete without at least one diary entry. Yet this one holds a particular place in my heart. The struggles of a 13 and ¾-year-old boy who believes he is an intellectual and therefore doesn’t fit in, is rich with humor. Adrian doesn’t understand much of what is happening around him. His innocence is revealed perfectly through his diary entries. His naïveté is charming and hilarious, and transported me back to my own youth, thinking I knew so much, yet understanding so little. A joy to read and re-read. 

Travels with My Aunt

By Graham Greene,

Book cover of Travels with My Aunt

Why this book?

Henry Pulling, a reluctantly retired bank manager, meets his 70-ish-year-old Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than 50 years at his mother’s funeral. His Aunt is vibrant, even outrageous, and he is anything but—a man whose only hobby is growing dahlias. An Aunt myself, I love a story about a wild, non-traditional Aunt, and her relationship with her nephew. As the title suggests, the story is told through the eyes of Henry. His views of his life and their travels are filled with humor and insight. The joy of this novel follows the challenges that arise when two generations confront their expectations of each other and themselvesexpectations that are never more alive than when we travel. 

The List of Last Chances

By Christina Myers,

Book cover of The List of Last Chances

Why this book?

A road trip provides a reliable narrative structure. But what makes each journey distinct is what the travellers see, do and learn along the way. This charming, funny book follows Ruthie, a recently single, down-on-her-luck 38-year-old as she accompanies Kay (70s) across Canada from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver, where Kay’s son wishes her to relocate. Kay doesn’t want to move, but if she is going to Vancouver, she has a list of ‘last chances’ for her and Ruthie to experience along the way. And thus an improbable friendship begins. Told from Ruthie’s perspective, this book reminded me of how much there is to discover on a road trip—the places we see, the people we meet along the way, and the person the journey inspires us to become. 

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