Where I ask the very important question of characters in books.
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening everyone! I hope you had a lovely week and a wonderful weekend. Sundays are usually the days where I do a mix of everything, from Nyx’s Corner to traveling to bookish talks and so on. Then I realized that it has been quite a while since I actually talked about books – I seemed to have focused on blogging talks much more, and even though I love it, well, there are always things to be said about the books we love.
After my latest Contemporary Corner, where I recommended books with relatable characters, talking to all of you made me think, and come up with that rather philosophical and very complicated question:
WHY do characters matter so much, in the stories we read?
In almost every single review I come across on the blogosphere, characters are part of the problem, the solution, part of the story and they are talked about, whether it is to clash them, blame them or completely fall in love with them. As readers, we take a look at the book as a whole, and if plot, pacing, overall world-building matter a lot, so does the characters. Depending on the kind of reader we are, in certain situations we can happen to overlook some aspects of a particular book, to emphasize and love some others. I happened to fall in love with a book because of its characters, or because of the incredible world-building, and so on.
I guess it depends on the kind of reader we are, but for me, characters matter a lot. Maybe it’s because I read a lot of contemporaries, where the stories are often build to make us follow a character journey, rather than a quest to save the world or something. Or maybe it’s just because, as humans, despite the hate and terrible things happening in the world, we always seek one another for comfort, recognition, love, and so on. We need others much more than we’d like, at times, and the same things happens in books.
I think I probably need to tackle the heart of the subject here, and it’s, WHY. If they are rightfully shaped, three-dimensional, if they feel so real you want to hug them, characters are such a massive part of each book, and the reason I remember why I love reading. In addition to taking us away in a whole other world, books allow us, in that case, to take over another life and share the experience of a particular character. Whether it’s something you have already experienced and can relate to, find comfort, reassurance and find these characters very relatable ; or it’s something you know nothing about, you get out of the book much, much richer than you were when you first started.
There are so many important things that are tackled in the characters lately in the bookish community, movements you probably noticed, unless you were living under a rock. Diverse books, obviously – characters some of us might relate MORE than ever before, because let’s face it, there are so many people in the world and so many different life experience, whether it’s from culture, beliefs, traditions and so on. Depending on your own experience, these characters allow you to feel close, recognized, to relate more and more to a book you read.
More often than not, I found myself giving a book a lower rating because I couldn’t connect with the characters – connection, I think, being the right word here. Because you can’t always relate to everything a character is doing, or feeling ; but you can always feel some kind of connection. Whether it’s because you empathize with them, feel for them, completely fall in love with them, or are desperate to understand them (more than often, this happens for me in books where I really don’t get the characters).
Whether it’s in a fantasy, sci-fi or a contemporary, if the place and character development are given different paces and space, characters ALWAYS matter. They are the ones we follow when we are reading a book, the ones we live through for a couple of pages, the ones we connect with – or try to, when we pick up a new story, and, along with sometimes extraordinary world-building, the ones we remember. There may be a reason why we say we bookworms fall in love with fictional characters – because they are not entirely fiction to us.
They are real, and as Dumbledore said: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”