I may have cheated a little on this list, since I included two biographies, and the subjects of biographies aren’t TECHNICALLY characters. However, I looked—and there are many, many biographies that do not have the subject as part of the name, so I went with it.
I was surprised when pulling this list together how few books I have read that fit the theme—and I did want to only pick books that I have read, so that I could talk about them a little.
I also excluded a couple books that I have talked *to death* on the blog—Daisy Jones, Riley Thorne and the Dead Guy Next Door. I mean, yeah, you should read them, but if I haven’t convinced you yet, well, I’d be bordering on annoying.
Love Greg & Lauren, Greg Manning
Before there were places like Caring Bridge, if you had a family member in a medical crisis, you just emailed updates out. Every day.
This book is a compilation of emails sent by Greg Manning to his wife Lauren’s family and friends, as she was treated for her grievous injuries following the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. With third-degree burns over 62% of her body, and a total body surface area burn of 82%, her chance of survival was in the single digits. Her strength in facing her horrific injuries, facing the deaths of hundreds of her colleagues, and facing months and months of rehab was, for me, the most riveting story to come out of the 2001. I remain riveted by Ms. Manning to this day.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
For a lot of years, when anyone asked me what my favorite book was, I said Owen Meany without a second thought. The book changed me in ways that I am still processing thirty-plus years later. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite book ever, but…I’m not sure it’s NOT either.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow
“The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow's debut novel, is one for the favorites shelf. It will lead you on a journey through books within books, worlds within worlds, mysteries within mysteries, until, finally, you reach a deep breath taken after a perfectly satisfying last page. Your breath. The last page of the book in your hand. The kind of last page that bewitches your fingers and, yes, you are turning again to the first page before you've decided whether you'll reread the whole book now or just turn to a favorite part. There will be favorite parts.
Even knowing how it ends, reading again is fresh delight.”
This book was gorgeous, a love letter to girls like me, girls who love books, and mysteries, girls whose primary attributes include curious. I loved it so much.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book is polarizing, with as many people thinking it’s boring as love it.
I loved it. This book changed me, broke me, and glued me back together stronger, like cracked pottery repaired with gold. It was an amazing experience.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe
“The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane has a lot of appeal for a variety of readers. It is also a gripping story with a very interesting plot. (At times Connie is a bit too stiff and analytical, but as the book moves forward she does evolve.) The story follows not only Connie's story but also Deliverance Dane and her descendants in interludes that mirror Connie's research about the book and shed some light on the women who passed it down from generation to generation.
The plot itself has action, suspense, pathos, some humor, and it must be said a fair dose of the fantastical--but somehow it all works. Howe has created a fascinating commentary on one of America's most compelling and most infamous periods in history with this debut novel.”
I read this one years and years ago, and I remember loving it at the time, but I don’t remember a ton about it…and now there is a sequel, so it might be time to revisit it.
Ooh—might be a good book club selection!
The 600 Hours of Edward, Craig Lancaster
”A 39-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Edward Stanton lives alone on a rigid schedule in the Montana town where he grew up. His carefully constructed routine includes tracking his most common waking time (7:38 a.m.), refusing to start his therapy sessions even a minute before the appointed hour (10 a.m.), and watching one episode of the 1960s cop show Dragnet each night (10 p.m.).
But when a single mother and her nine-year-old son move in across the street, Edward’s timetable comes undone. Over the course of a momentous 600 hours, he opens up to his new neighbors and confronts old grievances with his estranged parents. Exposed to both the joys and heartaches of friendship, Edward must ultimately decide whether to embrace the world outside his door or retreat to his solitary ways.
Heartfelt and hilarious, this moving novel will appeal to fans of Daniel Keyes’ classic Flowers for Algernon and to any reader who loves an underdog.”
Another book that I need to read again. This exercise is increasing my TBR and I haven’t even read anyone else’s entries!
Rafa, Rafael Nadal with John Carlin
So, I picked this one in honor of Nadal’ a 21st Grand Slam victory this weekend. It’s an uneven book, obviously ghost-written, and really (I think) only interesting to fans who want to know more about the enigmatic, obsessive, brilliant athlete.
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, Markus Sakey
Unputdownable. Seriously. Only start it at night if you are prepared to not go to work the next day.
Here—I’ll spot you page one:
“Your brain seems to work. Use it. Where are you?
A rocky beach. Cold. He could taste the salt on his lips, knew this was an ocean. Which one? The question was crazy, but he worked it anyway. Let one thing lead to the next. The dashboard clock read 7:42. The sun was just a brighter shade of gray above the waves, but it was higher than before. Which made it morning, which made that east, which made this the Atlantic.
Assuming he was still in the United States. Yes. The road atlas. Okay. The Atlantic. And cold and rocky and sparsely inhabited. Maine, maybe? Why not. Roll with that. “This is Maine.”
His voice cracked. He coughed, then continued. “I’m in a BMW. It’s morning.” Nothing. A bank envelope was curled in the cup holder. Inside was a stack of twenties, several hundred dollars. Under the envelope there was something silver that turned out to be a stainless steel Rolex Daytona. Nice watch. Very nice watch. What else?
He leaned over to open the glove box. There was an owner’s manual, a key ring with a BMW clicker, three pens, a pack of Altoids, a sealed box of ephedrine, and a large black gun.
An owner’s manual, a key ring with a BMW clicker, three pens, a pack of Altoids, a sealed box of ephedrine, and a large black gun. A semiautomatic, he noticed, then wondered how he could know that and not remember where he had been before he woke up on the beach. Or worse, even his own— Stop. Don’t go there. If you don’t face it, maybe it’s not true.”
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
From my own review, written almost ten years ago—
“I want to say that I really loved this kooky little book, but I only gave it four stars, so I can’t really say that.
Well, how about this? I loved the characters in this kooky little book. I couldn’t wait to spend time with them, and I was sad when our time together came to a close. They were quirky, and eccentric, and a little nonsensical at times, and they felt authentic, and fully-realized, and I wish that they were real. I want to work at this bookstore. I want to live in this world.
I’d call this light urban fantasy. It’s a mystery set in a bookstore, where not everything is as it seems. Throw in some secret societies and what one Amazon reviewer called a “nerdy heist.”
People who know me will know how nervous heists make me, nerdy or not. 🙂
But, in the end, it’s really more about character than plot, a point that kept it from getting five stars. Stuff happens to these people, but the stuff doesn’t always make complete sense, and the ending felt like a bit of a cheat. Not necessarily in a bad way, but still.
Highly recommend, though, because you really, really, really want to spend some time with these folks.”
Dr. Knox, Peter Spiegelman
“Peter Spiegelman’s Dr. Knox is a bruised wonder of a crime novel. Filled with page-turning intrigue and an L.A. atmosphere so richly rendered you can practically smell the ‘eucalyptus and dust,’ it is both thrilling and rueful, harrowing and moving. DON'T MISS IT”
Fun, fast-paced noir/thriller. Thought it was going to be a series, but still waiting for #2. Loved it.
What about you, dear reader? What is your favorite book with a character name in the title? I’ll take your recommendations in the comments.