The best books with unforgettable characters

Molly D. Campbell Author Of The World Came to Us
By Molly D. Campbell

Who am I?

As a novelist, I focus on the characters in my books, and the plot is woven around them. I'm a people-watcher, and I remember bits and pieces of the folks I observe—many of which find their way into my novels. As a reader, plot pulls me in, but it is the characters that I remember. As a novelist, I always begin with a cast of characters: I start with a physical quirk, a personality flaw, an offbeat way of seeing things. Then I add a plot. For me, plot is the hardest. There are hundreds of characters swimming around in my imagination (see my first book, Characters in Search of a Novel).

I wrote...

The World Came to Us

By Molly D. Campbell,

Book cover of The World Came to Us

What is my book about?

Tommy Poole and her mother Meg have decided to become recluses together. Not forever; only for a year. And not at night when the dog needs to be walked. In the midst of their grief over the loss of Tommy’s other mother, Sam, shutting themselves away seems the only viable way to recovery. 

However, while they have decided to step away from the world, the world has not made the same decision. Soon, Tommy’s best friend is living with them. And the crotchety neighbor is making their lives miserable. And when a teenaged girl with a troubled past and an indignant future enters their orbit, life might be as full for Tommy and Meg as it has been for years. And that was before the wedding…

The books I picked & why

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Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Why this book?

I have been an eccentric my whole life. As a child, I had an adult soul. Nobody, including my parents, recognized this. So I felt as if I didn’t fit anywhere. Then I discovered Anne Shirley. The kindred spirit to my soul. She knew “big words.” Her heart was vulnerable, so her spirit was brave. I read that book so many times, the binding split. Anne Shirley was the first fictional character that resonated with me, and I have carried her with me ever since. I named my daughter Anne.

The Man in the Window

By Jon Cohen,

Book cover of The Man in the Window

Why this book?

Perhaps this was an inspiration for my own novel. It is about Louis, who has not left his house in sixteen years, due to his disfigured face. I won’t ruin the book, but I must say that it is written with great tenderness and understanding, and the characters are luminous. 

This book has stayed with me for years. Cohen weaves a bit of magic into his writing, and though the topic is sad on the surface, its two main characters will fill the reader with deep love and great satisfaction.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort

By Jess Kidd,

Book cover of Mr. Flood's Last Resort

Why this book?

Talk about quirky chararcters and magic! This book is full of them! 

Apparently, I am fascinated with agoraphobics and magical themes! Cathal Flood is a horrible old man.  He is a hoarder and misanthrope. However, he doesn’t want to go into a home, so he hires Maud to help him sort out his home so he can satisfy all that he is sane and orderly.

But there are saints seeping out of the woodwork and cats are everywhere. This hoarder has stories, and Maud keeps uncovering them, along with hints from the saints who comment on the action. This book is what? A thriller? A study of Irish folklore and the Catholic faith? I don’t know, but I just loved the book.

Nothing to See Here

By Kevin Wilson,

Book cover of Nothing to See Here

Why this book?

Lillian is asked by her old friend Madison for Lillian's help. Madison needs a caregiver for her twin stepchildren, who are moving in with her. No problem, right? 

Well, one small thing: when the twins are angry, excited, or otherwise emotionally aroused, they catch on fire. Lillian obviously has her work cut out for her, keeping the two cool. This is so well written, so funny, and yet heartwrenching at the same time—these characters will not let go of you.

Lessons in Chemistry

By Bonnie Garmus,

Book cover of Lessons in Chemistry

Why this book?

A mother. Who is a scientist. Her daughter who adores her. The mother is a feminist. But the world knows her as the star of a hugely popular cooking show.

This book bursts with the personality of Elizabeth Zott, whose life is science, but whose daughter needs a mother, a carer, a role model, and a teacher—so Elizabeth becomes all of those. She fights the stereotype of “housewife” with all she has, and we learn a lot from her.

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