Top Five Character-Driven Books I Read In 2020


Hello everyone,

It is time for another 2020 top five countdown! Today I am looking back on the best and most character-driven books I read over the course of this year.

For me, there are not many things better when reading a book than connecting strongly with a character or just seeing life through their eyes. Sometimes a book is made what it is by the characters and their nuances, or maybe the story itself is one massive character portrait.

Each of the books on my list fulfils at least one of these requirements, so without further ado, let’s take a look…



Circe by Madeline Miller

Books rarely come much more character driven than this one. It is a book all about Circe herself, and she owns every page with her magic and independence and personality. The writing is incredible, and the story – as the title suggests – truly belongs to her.


You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

This book effortlessly brought a smile to my face, and a lot of that was down to the protagonist, Liz. She is so likeable and down-to-earth and made for a fantastic narrator.


The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

This was an extremely detailed character portrait, telling the powerful and complex story of Frances through her very unique perspective. She reflects on her experiences – many of them quite tragic – in a compelling way and this forms the basis of the book.


The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

This was beautifully bittersweet story in which the strength of the character development lifts it up several notches. The characters totally leave their mark and leave you feeling a strong emotional connection towards the book. In Ben, Andrew, and Will, you have three extraordinary perspectives.


The Whisper Man by Alex North

I have rarely come across a thriller with such an emphasis on character development, and that is what I admired most about this one. It may be spooky and dark, but at the heart of it is a powerful family relationship seen across multiple narratives.


Have you read any of these books? What are your most character-driven reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

21 thoughts on “Top Five Character-Driven Books I Read In 2020

  1. Yess I am definitely in love with character driven books!!
    Yeah Circe is definitely her story as we follow her life. The plot was quieter than I was expecting going in but I really loved the focus and like you said, the writing was stunning!!
    I haven’t read any of the last three books so it was great to hearing about them. They all sound really interesting!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have read, and enjoyed, Circe, but not the others. I think my favourite book of 2020 was Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. I really loved it, in particular the main character, Micah Mortimer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great choices, Stephen! Circe most definitely belongs on this list and I agree with The Lion Tamer who Lost as well. I had some issues with The Whisper Man but I agree that it is more focused on character development than other thrillers. I am not sure if you have read The Silent Patient but if you haven’t and are looking for other character focused thrillers then it is definitely one I would recommend!

    Liked by 1 person

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