I’m Curious

☆ February 22, 2012

Random thoughts led to other random thoughts and now I have a question.

I was thinking about protagonists, and realized that just because I love a particular book does not automatically mean I love the protagonist.  To use examples from my little book list in the sidebar ~ I love Lisbeth (The Girl Who Played With Fire).  I was devastated, after finishing Hornet’s Nest, that the author was dead and I would not get to read more of Lisbeth.

I also loved The Hunger Games, thought it was a brilliant book, a great series, but I can’t say I love Katniss.  I wouldn’t care to know her in real life.  In fact, of the books listed in my sidebar, the only protagonists I loved were from Autobiography of Red and The Girl Who Played With Fire.  And the girl in The Daily Coyote ~ OMG I want to be her!  {joke!}  The other books I loved for the book itself, not for the protagonist.

So I am wondering (insanely curious, really):  who are the protagonists you have loved, and why?  It doesn’t have to be limited to books:  movies, books, myth, song, whatever.  I would LOVE to hear your opinions.


201 Responses to “I’m Curious”

  1. Dani
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    Ohh..I too love Lisbeth and powered through all 3 books like a maniac. I keep hearing rumors of a 4th and would be thrilled to read more about her crazy life and adventures!

  2. Céleste
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

    This will sound silly, but oddly enough, Jane Eyre. She was so confident, particularly for someone so abused growing up. I admired her strength of character.

    And if you plunked me down in NYC for an hour I’d like to be Rebecca Bloomwood (Shopaholic series) because she’d know EXACTLY where to shop and I could use her credit card and not my own! And I would never even look at the price tags! LOL!

  3. shreve
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    oooh, jane eyre ~ not silly at all! brilliant.

  4. Jonelle
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    I like this question- because I have found the same thing you describe; sometimes I love the story and the characters, and sometimes just the story. One book that stayed with me was The Bone People, by Keri Hulme. I grew so attached to all of the characters and was very sad when the book ended. I missed those people. It was like friends had left, or died.

    Lonesome Dove: I love Augustus McCrae like family.

    Wuthering Heights – now there is a cast of characters I could not stand! Everyone loves this book and I cannot understand why. I think all of the characters are an annoying bunch of whiners. ! lol!

  5. Tonna Bear
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    1. Lisbeth and if you’ve read the book then you understand why.
    2. The Daily Coyote- not trying to brown nose. But if it weren’t for you I never would have gone to Ten Sleep and I never would have felt my heart break when I left.
    Thank you.
    3. David from The Neon Bible by John Kennedy Toole. He wrote it when he was 16, and it was done with the wisdom of an old sole. And because of that even at 20 I was able to relate.
    4. The Old Prince from Bambi, a Life in the Woods. This is not the Disney version. It is far darker and more beautiful. I love the Old Prince. Is wisdom blows me a way. And his grace. Felix wrote the story in a way that you held your breath everytime The Old Prince entered.
    5. Lucifer from the show Supernatural. He was portrayed in a way in which you couldn’t help but feel for he guy. Much like Paradise Lost.
    6. Darrel from The Walking Dead show. I just like his hick way. He is rough around the edges, but soo…huggable. he is standoffish, and doesnt think highly of himself, but he still cares for the group in his own way.
    He spent the better part of the second season looking for a little girl that wasn’t his….ugh I could go on about him but I don’t want to waste space.

  6. Maranda
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    I feel like you’d really love the novel The 5th Life of the Catwoman. The Catwoman is a woman who’s been cursed with ancient magic to live 9 lives. She’s living her 5th one in the Southwest, making ends meet, living with a ton of cats (since she can talk to them, naturally), but she’s a great protagonist. She’s got a lot of personal issues, like a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty, but in the end she resolves them and has a really great character development evolution. Also, have I mentioned she can talk to cats and has tortoise-shell patterned hair?

  7. Puss in Boots
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    I felt the exact same about Katniss–I liked reading about her, but I wouldn’t want to meet her.

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of a few, but I love:

    Maia from Maia by Richard Adams
    Cassel Sharpe from White Cat by Holly Black
    Damien Locke from Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

    Mostly my heart gets stolen by friends of the protagonist. I’ve always been that way, even when I was a little kid watching Disney movies. No use for the protagonist, plenty of interest in the plucky comic relief ;)

    Thanks for the question. This was interesting.

  8. Beverly Murphy
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    In Ayn Rand’s ‘Fountainhead’ the character Howard Rourke-he firmly stands by his convictions and beliefs with out wavering or giving in to social convention. he is uncompromising on being honest and ethical, at great cost to his life and career. my favorite all time book

  9. saepe
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

    Anne of Green Gables: smart, independent, compassionate and creative.

  10. Jennifer
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    I didn’t really love Katniss, either. But I appreciated that she was young, human and flawed.

    Actually, maybe I don’t love most protagonists.

    I did, however love Tris (“Divergent”), another series you might enjoy/appreciate, after reading the Hunger Games series. I also suggest Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium”. Both books have sequels coming out shortly.

  11. kcb
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

    I absolutely love Tete from “Island Beneath the Sea” by Isabel Allende. She is strong and amazing…and it is an amazing book.

    Interestingly, some of my favourite protagonists are children –

    Scout Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

    Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry from the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman

  12. Felyne
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    I tend to read autobiographies so….

  13. Ms. Pants
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    Big old soft spot for Henry DeTamble in “The Time Traveller’s Wife.”

  14. Angela
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    Elizabeth Bennet is my classic choice.

    Lisbeth Salander is one of my favorites as well.

    Towner Whitney in The Lace Reader – I loved her character and the candid nature of her persona.

  15. Danielle
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    I’m so glad you posted about this, now I know I’m not the only one. I even went to far to contact the author of the last book I read to tell him how much I missed and loved the protagonist. Her name is Aminata and the book is entitled, “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill.

    To be honest, I still miss her.

  16. holly
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    One that has stayed with me for a long time is from a book I first read as a child: Aerin from The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

    I think you’d like her – at one point she runs off to live in the wilderness, tame a wild horse, and heal herself with herbal remedies. :)

    That author has another book, the Blue Sword, that I like almost as much.

    I also loved Lisbeth, and I felt for Katniss…

    also Jo from Little Women.

  17. Katie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

    I loved Antontia in My Antonia by Willa Cather.
    I am also a fan of Lisbeth, though I think if she were a real person she would be very hard to like.
    I adored the little boy in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.
    I’ve also been a life long fan of Pippi Longstocking :-)
    Dolores Price – She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
    Any character in any of Tim Sandlin’s books.
    I love that The Bone People was mentioned above, one of my favorite books of all time.

  18. Alexis Scott
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:38 pm


    I Love the character of Jane Eyre! Am reading the book right now. The most recent Jane Eyre movie was Great…..hope you have seen it.

  19. Amanda
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    I second The Bone People. I love this book so much. The three main characters are so broken and beautiful, especially Kerewin.

    I’ll gladly send you a copy of this book if you haven’t read it and would like to.

  20. Alyssa
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    I love Lisbeth as well.

    I couldn’t stand anyone in Wuthering Heights, nor the book itself.

    Another protagonist I can’t stand: Madame Bovary. *shudders*

  21. Britney
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    I actually liked Katniss- I agree I wouldn’t care to know her in real life. However, I appreciated that there were elements of her personality that I found myself relating to, traits that I’m hesitant to admit to myself that I have.
    People have beautiful and ugly aspects of themselves, and I enjoyed that Collins chose not to appease us with an entirely likeable protagonist (albeit, she compromised by giving us Peeta).

    Other than Hunger Games, I really love the character Tyrion from the book Game of Thrones. I loved the show, but the book gave a better look of Tyrion’s mindset. He’s also an honest character. Funny yet crass, and incredibly vulnerable in a way that made him endearing rather than pathetic.

  22. Jill
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    I’m going to second (or third or fourth) Jane Eyre – what strength of character she shows!

    I’d also like to agree with Holly about Robin McKinley’s characters – she writes incredibly strong women. Aerin, of course, is a stand out from her cast of characters.

  23. Agnes
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    Another vote for Anne Of Green Gables!

    Such a sweetly written character. Never tire of Anne.

  24. Karin
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    I loved Reuben and his father in “Peace Like a River”, Bud in “Bud Not Buddy”, Anne of Green Gables, Willow John in “The Education of Little Tree”…just noticing how many of these appear in young adult lit!

  25. MC
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    Sherlock Holmes, of course.

  26. Janice in GA
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    I absolutely adored Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin in Patrick O’Brian’s novels. They both seemed like real people to me, even if they are a little larger than life. I was so sad when Mr. O’Brian died, because it meant that I wouldn’t hear more about Jack and Stephen. It’s like old friends moved away to the other side of the world or something.

    I don’t think I identify with too many female protagonists in the books I read, though. :(

  27. shreve
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    THESE ARE INCREDIBLE! And I’m excited to add some books to my ‘read’ list. Thank you so much, one and all. Keep em coming!

  28. sara
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

    @11: Lyra is also my favorite protagonist and His Dark Materials is definitely my favorite trilogy.

  29. Kelley
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    There are so many!! The painter in Remembrance of Things Past; the narrator in Incendiary; and the true all time favorite: Winnie the Pooh…

  30. Tea
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    Definitely Anne of Green Gables. I love her independence and imagination.

    Also, I just love Veronica Mars from the TV show of the same name. I don’t know if you watch TV at all but she’s super smart, stands up to bullies and extremely witty. Wish I could be her.

    Lastly, since I was a kid I’ve always been drawn to the Greek Goddess Athena because she embodied both masculine and feminine qualities and was born from her father’s head. How wicked is that?

  31. Nathalie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    George Hayduke from Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. Loved the book, but wouldn’t want to meet someone with that narrow of an environmentalist vision.

    Lisbeth Sanders is one of my favorites and I’m adding The 5th Life of the Catwoman. Thanks Maranda!

  32. MC
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    Salman Rushdie wrote some books, in particular:
    ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ and
    ‘Luka and the Fire of Life’
    with perfectly likable characters, but when you think about it they don’t matter very much to why the books are good – it’s all about how he writes.


    Jack – ‘The Pillars of the Earth’, by Ken Follett

    Drizzt – any of the books by R.A. Salvatore

    Kitty Jones – The ‘Bartimaeus’ Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud

    Ken Kesey – ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’, by Tom Wolfe
    (Just because he is a real person doesn’t mean he’s not a character in this particular instance!)

    Deborah Morgan – ‘Dexter’, by Jeff Lindsay

    Ender – ‘Ender’s Game’, by Orson Scott Card

    Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

  33. Karen H.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

    Beryl Markham. Her Autobiography “West With The Night” is still one of my all-time favorites. Still, after all these years. Both she the woman and she the writer.

    Here is Ernest Hemingway’s comment:
    “Did you read Beryl Markham’s book, WEST WITH THE NIGHT? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected she could put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers… I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.”

  34. laura
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    The lead character in the Fae series by Karen Marie Moning. I can’t remember her name, but the series is wonderful! The first book is called Darkfever.

  35. Carrie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

    Nth-ing Robin McKinley’s characters! I have a special soft spot for Rae Seddon from “Sunshine” and Rosie from “Spindle’s End.”

    I also have a lot of love for Tamora Pierce’s female characters. Daine is a particular favorite. I devour her books like candy.

    Jane Eyre–yes!!

    Bilbo Baggins, especially in “The Hobbit.” I love that he’s reluctant and whiny and often pretty useless, but he manages to survive the whole adventure and kick some occasional ass, anyway.

  36. Karyn
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    Jane Eyre – always!


  37. danielle
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet (I just scanned the other comments), but I loved _Prep_ but hated the main character. I literally wanted to crawl into the book, take her by the shoulders, and give her a good shake while telling her “Stop whining! You’re depressed but it’s your own fault for not wanting to be in the place that you so desperately wanted to be and for not accepting the fact that there are people who want to be your friend and that the popular people don’t want you as a friend.”

    I don’t even remember the girl’s name. I just remember how much I dislike her.

    This may sound weird, but the narrator in _Shopaholic_. I don’t actually like the book either–just what the book made me realize about my own spending habits. The narrator was an idiot and then her life ended up awesome and I was still in debt.

    I also wanted to hit Katniss upside the head several times during each book. Especially after the obvious was pointed out to her and she still didn’t believe it or see it.

    And another bit of fluff: Sookie Stackhouse in the books (and TV show). And Bella and Edward in all of the books…except the 2nd half of the last book–all of the secondary and tertiary characters were what kept me reading (oh and I only made it through the first book cause I needed to know what the appeal was!).

  38. danielle
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Ohhh…I got caught up in the books I loved with protagonists I hated part. And _Prep_ is a really great literary book despite the chick-lit cover…but in my previous post I did admit to reading fluff.

  39. shreve
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    B ~ I have no problem with your gripes but they add nothing to the conversation which is why your comment is gone.

  40. Rachael
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    Yeah, Katniss was a tough pill to swallow. She was a real idiot sometimes.

    I really love Lyra from His Dark Materials. She is the epitome of a strong yet realistically flawed female lead. I think Katniss was a poor shadow of her.

  41. John
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

    I’ve always admired Hazel from Watership Down. He had only two special talents, common sense and the ability to listen, but those are by far the most important traits for a leader to have.

  42. deb
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

    Mary Lennox from Secret Garden. I wouldn’t necessarily do everything she would, but admire how she rallied despite being torn from everything she knew.

    Lucy Maud Montgomery – she’s not a character, but reading about her life, it’s remarkable how she used her own writing to free herself from the restrictions of her life and culture.

    Some of the characters of movies based on real people. Some of the books they’re based on are even better than the movie – even when the movie is already great and often very different!
    John Nash (A Beautiful Mind)
    Nelson Mandela (Invictus)
    Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness)
    Shreve Stockton (Daily Coyote)
    Emily Carr (Klee Wyck)
    ~ better sense of Canadian/native roots.
    Laura Hillenbran (Seabiscuit)
    ~ amazing writer though afflicted with CFS

    I love when people play the main character in their own lives!

  43. CeeBee
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    Right now, I’m insanely in love with Jack Reacher, the hero in Lee Child’s thrillers.

  44. Amy
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    What a great topic of conversation!

    Yes, yes, Beryl Markham and Augustus McCrae (I want to hear him call me AmyDarlin’)!

    Lily Bart, “The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton
    John Grady, “The Border Trilogy” by Cormac McCarthy
    Melrose Plant, the one I’d most like to have an Old Peculier with at the Jack and Hammer, from the Martha Grimes mystery series

  45. Steph G.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    I’m on the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ bandwagon. I love the book but I’m not particularly fond of Hank or Dagny.

    I also love ‘The Lonesome Gods’ by Louis Lamour but I can’t think of the name of a single character on the fly. Odd.

    Talking to a friend on the phone now and she suggested that she loved the series His Dark Materials and dislikes the main character.

  46. Steph G.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    Just thought of a character I love–Maria Bello’s character in her latest TV show–Jane Timoney. She’s totally my type–flawed, strong, sometimes dark, strong family ties and occasionally triumphant in unlikely situations.

  47. Jo Davis
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    Definetly Jo from Little Women, what an Awesome girl and woman!!!, Laura Ingalls Wilder with her love of life and nature, Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear and earth children series…she made me want to know everything there is about every plant, herb, flower, tree, etc. I was already a rock, bone and shell nut!!! Gee there have been sooo many through the years… Lately it’s Bella from the Twilight Saga…I love, love, love all the movies and just today I finally started reading the first book!!! Her character is in my head, we think soooo much the same it is uncanny… Oh and I can’t leave out the incredible woman from The Daily Coyote, she is fabulous…someday I hope to have the chance to meet her and I can’t wait for her next book!!! :)

  48. Steph G.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    Final comment, I promise, I just keep thinking of names. I also adore Anne Lasbastille. Her book ‘Woodswoman’ is one of my go-to’s.

  49. Maranda
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

    Why didn’t I think of Jane Eyre? She’s awesome!

    That reminds me of Thursday Next, the bad-assest chick protagonist ever. I stand confidently behind that remark.
    Look up “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde (yes, two F’s). It’s a hilarious and amazingly creative book and series of I think four books. The author created a world within every novel ever created. Thursday reads herself, literally, into books. Oh man it is such a fun read.

  50. Jamie Lyn Weaver
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    I loved and still miss Lisel and Ruddy, Papa and Mama from the Book Thief. What an amazing read that was.

  51. Carmen Buss
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    Just some of my all-time favorites! Mary Boulton in The Outlander by Gil Adamson, Taylor Greer in The Bean Trees by Barbara KIngsolver, Augustus McCrae in Lonesome Dove, Laura Ingalls Wilder- and of course Lisbeth Salander!

  52. Carmen Buss
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    Thought of one more- Maggie in the old “Northern Exposure” T.V. series…

  53. sal
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

    Two authors: Daniel Silva and Robert Crais. You will want to read all they have written. You will want to kidnap them and make them write just for you. You will want to kidnap their leading charactors and…well, keep them to yourself.

  54. Monika Ankjaer-Jensen
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    i really enjoy ayla from the clan of the cavebear by jean auel. amazing series incorporating cro-magnon and neanderthals hypothetically interacting. a lot of research went into the writing. i found the discussion of herbal medicines some of the best parts. ayla is a strong woman i would want as a dear friend.

  55. Beverly Murphy
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    an author by the name of Alexandra Fuller ( she now makes her home in Wyoming!) -her first book ‘Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs tonight’ is about her life growing up in Rhodesia-very passionate. the way she describes the land, the light and the air draws you in.
    the other comments have been great and given me some new reading material!

  56. Penny in Co
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    Clay Evans (as himself) in “I See by Your Outfit Becoming a Cowboy a Century Too Late”…

    Frank Bama “Where is Joe Merchant?” (Jimmy Buffet)

    Edgar “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”

    Sissy Hankshaw “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”

  57. Carrie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    Anne of Green Gables for sure
    Charlie of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Harold from Harold & Maude
    Forest Gump
    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Leigh-Cheri from Still Life with Woodpecker
    Lusa Landowski from Prodigal Summer

    love all of these entries!

  58. lomky
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    Shallan from Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings.

  59. Hawk
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    I will have to read some of these books, too!

    I’ll put in my two cents…

    Jane Eyre, taught me how to hold my tongue :P
    I adored Talia from Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar yarns. She was so abused, and managed to persevere without having to lose her essential sweetness…that gave me a lot of hope that it was possible to be assertive and still be loving.

    Anne of Green Gables, my favorite redhead! I wanted to be her, so badly, when I was an awkward teen…

    I saw Bilbo mentioned; he’s pretty awesome. But I have to say my favorite hobbit is Samwise. I kinda envied Rosie at the end of the film, she got a good man :P

    Characters I didn’t like so much: most of the characters in CJ Cherryh’s books Heavy Time and Hellburner. It’s sci-fi, with grittier plot and characters than most of the fluff I like to relax with…I had a really hard time sympathizing with most of the people in the story. But, perhaps it’s a mark of Cherryh’s craft, I still couldn’t put the books down.

    I also didn’t actually like Lyra very much…but then again, she set off all my parenting alarms!! Haha!! That girl was (is) impossible!

  60. Ann
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    I love Jane Austen’s Emma. I IDENTIFY with Emma. But, oddly enough, Austen herself admitted that only she could love that protagonist, that readers wouldn’t like her. To each his own, right?

  61. Steph
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 6:43 pm


    This is a great exercise to do; and it was very fun to look back on some of my favourite reads. This is not all-inclusive mind you, but I did have to make myself stop, believe it or not!

    Tess, “The Well and The Mine: A Novel” by Gin Phillips

    Glory, “Home” by Marilynne Robinson

    Scout, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (as others have listed)

    Lisbeth, “Girl w/the Dragon Tattoo” (as other have listed)

    Precious, from the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series by Alexander McCall Smith

    Jake (aka George Amberson), “11/22/62: A novel” by Stephen King

    Wilbert Rideau, (his memoir) “In search of Justice: A story of punishment and deliverance” by Wilbert Rideau

    Lily Casey Smith (the author’s grandmother), “Half Broke Horses: A true-life novel” by Jeannette Walls

    Charlie Bundrum (the author’s grandfather), “Ava’s Man” by Rick Bragg

    Rose, “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: a Novel” by Aimee Bender

    Aibileen & Minny, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

    Myron & his father, (his memoir) “Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love” by Myron Uhlberg

  62. Tess
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    Kinsey Milhone from the Sue Grafton Alphabet series. She’s independent and tough.

    Holden Caufield, so real. Hypercritical of others, but vulnerable, smart, sensitive at times and funny too.

    Definitely agree about Lisbeth, Jane Eyre and Ayla.

  63. Rachel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    Lyra from Phillip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”. She’s plucky, and often knows the odds are against her, but figures she “may as well try anyway.” The whole series is “His Dark Materials” but The Golden Compass is the best book.

    Also, from a more fluff-type but fun book, Cranky Agnes in “Agnes and the Hitman.” Every time she catches a boyfriend or fiance cheating on her she hits them over the head with a cast iron skillet – she stands up for herself, and is a fabulous, crazy southern woman.

    I loved Lisbeth as well.

    Beryl Markham in West With the NIght as someone else mentioned.

    And another real life intense big woman, Jane Digby, the focus of Rebel Heart: the Scandalous Life of Jane Digby by Mary Lovell. Originally from England, she eventually wound up falling for and marrying (at 50) Chief Sheikh Medjuel of Arabia and living with him for half the year as a bedouin nomad. Great read.

    And one of my oldest most favorites, Diamond, from George MacDonald’s “At the Back of the North Wind.”

    Great idea, Shreve! Its fun to read others favorites and find more good books to look into.

  64. Melanie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    I have found the same thing quite a few times actually! I must agree with you about Katniss and The Hunger Games. She was a very well rounded character with good and bad qualities, but not my favorite.
    With other books I’ve found it’s 50/50. ‘Pride and Prejudice’, love Elizabeth! ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, Sophie was alright but Howl stole my heart. Jonas from ‘The Giver’, great!
    And even though I’ve only saw the movie so far, but I love Lisbeth too! Grabbing the books as soon as I can.

  65. Laurie G
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

    I liked both Melanie and Wanderer from The Host.

  66. Patr
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    I am re reading Duma Kay and I just love Edgar Freemantel. He has been through so much, but his personality will not let him fail. Good read.

    I read a book several years ago that was set in the middle east when Israel was formed. It was not from a Jewish perspective, and I really couldn’t stand the protagonist, but I had to finish the book. Can’t say I would even consider re reading it again.

  67. Kira
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    Reading through the comments just amazed me, because there were so many I had read too and liked.

    Ayla of Earth’s Children series

    Both Deanna Wolfe and Lusa Landowski of Prodigal Summer

    Lyra and Will from His dark Materials

    Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium series (though I do agree she would be hard to get to know)

    Drizzt and Catti-brie from RA Salvatore’s books

    Anita Blake from her series (though mostly in the early books)

    Harry Dresden from the Dresden files

    Eragon and Arya of the Inheritance Series

    Hermione from the Harry Potter series

    Rene of the Otherland series

    Samwise of the Lord of the Rings

    Kimberly Ford from the Fionavar Tapestry

    Catriana from Tigana

    Jehane from The Lions of Alrassan

    Anne Pigeon from her series by Navada Barr

    Anne from Persuasion

    Emma from Emma

    Elora from the Chronicles of the Shadow War

    Juniper from the Doran series

    Guess I should quit, I also didn’t like Katniss or Bella, they seemed to be much alike (except Katniss wasn’t clumsy) they both seemed to just kinda go with the flow. I personally think that Bella would’ve been so much more interesting if she had become a vampire. Katniss just should have been stronger in the end. It was like she was a different person in the second and third books. Thanks to everyone for giving me some new titles to check out, the 5th life of Catwoman looks really cool. =)

  68. Rachel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

    Oh, two more from the YA lists. (I have two teenage goddaughters that I am often picking out books for, and read them so we can discuss them together.)

    Frankie in “The Disreputeable History of Frankie Landau Banks” by E. Lockhart. Frankie figures out she’s just as smart (smarter) than the boys, and that she doesn’t like it when they don’t want her to be smart, they just want her to be cute.

    Jane in “dreamland social club” by Tara Altebrando. She’s trying to figure out both her history and her place in the world now.

  69. Steph
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    To add to the YA list, I loved:

    Junior, “The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

  70. Sara
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Aibileen, from The Help.

  71. Chris W.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    thank you for this ponderance that you offered us- interesting reading everyone’s thoughts. Equally interesting how we all can vary in how we relate or not relate to a protagonist.

    Hank or Dagny – Atlas Shrugged

    Donald- Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

    Amos- Oddkins by Dean Koontz

    two brothers, Ben and Willie- Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard

    Santiago- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  72. Mecha
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    I don’t have a t.v. but love to watch Downton Abbey on my computer! I would love to be Lady Mary but am more like Mrs. Patmore in real life!

  73. Diane Brown
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

    What a great conversation! I have a new list of books to borrow from our library!

    I add Lessa of Pern and her golden dragon, Ramoth, from The Dragonriders by Anne McCaffrey.

  74. Dave Wallace
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Kinsey, of course, Lisbet, Perri O’Shaugnessy’s Nina and Sara Paretsksy’s V. I.

    In real life there is Shreve, Jeanna Yeager and Apsley Cherry-Garrard in “The Worst Journey In the World”.

    I was reminded of Jeanna, because the day she & Dick Rutan were to leave on the first nonstop, non refueled flight around the world, she turned up with a pixie. Asked why she cut off her luxuriant tresses, she explained that carrying the weight of the hair would use enough fuel to travel a mile or two…

  75. Susan L.
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Great topic and like you, Shreve, lots of things to add to my “to read” list. I love Lisbeth (all three books) and Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird and Turtle from The Bean Trees. And I loved all the people in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I really hated to finish that book.

  76. montanapup
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    Katherine Hepburn – a real person, but I always loved all her characters in her movies – always strong, stubborn, able to make do and the best part of all, those pant suits!!! She was a model of strength and self determination. Another, Georgia O’Keefe – ok, not a character but a real person who also made her own rules. Strong women.

  77. montanapup
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    oh, and Idgie – Fried Green Tomatoes!

  78. Tonna Bear
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    Now that I’m in front of half my “library”
    I would also recommend.
    1. Whit & Whisty from Witch & Wizard by James Patterson. This book is kind of in the same vain as The Hunger Games, and like you I wasn’t really a fan of Katniss. This brother and sister duo seem…oddly more real. not the right word.
    2.Eli from Let the Right One In. The original movie, is far better then the remake. The book has more detail and depth. While in truth its probably difficult to follow. But its a classic and good vampire book.
    3. Azar Nafisi Reading Lolita in Tehran. This is an actual story. The title alone gives you the general idea of what to expect. Azar is an amazing woman. And I just recommend it.

    this was actually fairly difficult to look at. i very rarely remember the characters but if the story is good. i read it. I am also biased to ones pertaining to the Middle East, and the sociological/psychological aspect of people.
    so in the line of story..
    1. Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert
    Far better then the movie. Read it after my injury, and in recovery for several months. So good, and inspirational.
    2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist-Mohsin Hamid
    3. One Second After-William R. Forstchen
    and end of times novel. fairly realistic in the human aspect.
    4. Canticle for Leibowitz-Walter M. Miller Jr.
    also an end of times scenario, dark humor.
    5. Black Elk Speaks
    6. Don’t Get Too Comfortable-David Rakoff
    really effin hilarious. i probably read it too young.

    Ok. I’ll stop! You have better things to do!

  79. mlaiuppa
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

    Well, I like the Shakespeare comedies; Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew.

    But if you think about it, Shrew is the story of a man that beats his wife into submission. Don’t care for Petrucchio and haven’t decided if Katherine is really changed or just putting up a front until she can work her way on Petrucchio. Then there’s Oberon and Titania, another dysfunctional couple, fighting over a kidnapped baby. Oberon seems Peter Panish and jealous of the kid. Titania seems to use the baby to get back at him. The one couple are only happy and in love due to fairy drugs.

    I don’t care for Gatsby, then again, I didn’t like the book so that doesn’t really count.

  80. mlaiuppa
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    OH, protagonists we loved. Ooops.

    Well, I loved D’arcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice.

    I love Judah ben Hur in Ben Hur.

    I’ve read both of these books numerous times. I get more out of them every time I read them.

    I loved Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain, even though he was a dog. Also Denny, his master, for never giving up when it would have been so easy to do so.

  81. Tess
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

    I’ll always have a place in my heart for Sabriel by Garth Nix and the paladin Paksenarrion from Elizabeth Moon, my heroines growing up. As I’ve forayed into more respected literature, I’ve found heaps of gorgeous prose but precious few really loveable characters. My serious writer friends do not really understand why I would think that’s important! I’ve been on a Wodehouse kick recently, Bertie Wooster (PG Wodehouse) is a great protagonist too.

  82. Raquelita
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    Everyone is coming up with such great characters! I’ve has so much fun reading through.

    Martha Gellhorn’s narration of her travels with then-husband Ernest Hemingway in Travels With Myself and Others is marvelous.

    I also like Ruth Reichl’s versions of herself and family and friends in Tender At The Bone, Garlic and Sapphires, and Comfort Me With Apples.

    Barbara Kingsolver is a wonderful author, as is Julia Alvarez. And this is a more YA, but classic selection, I love all of Roald Dahl’s characters, especially Danny the Champion of the World.

  83. Karen
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

    Awesome list of books to check out – thank you!

    Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich’s series.

    Mat Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time

    Margaret Lea from The Thirteenth Tale

    Count St. Germaine and Olivia from Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s books

    Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s books

    And can’t forget Elizabeth Bennett

  84. Dana
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

    Last year one of the best books I read all year was Ahab’s Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund, and the main character, Una, was my new best friend over about the next 700 pages. I missed her so much, after sharing so many evenings hearing her stories. I am almost ready to pick it up again and re-visit with Una!

    Also tied for first place was Lisbeth… did not get enough of her either!

  85. Rachel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    One more!

    Lucy Marsden in “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,” by Allen Gurganus. It’s over 700 pages and you cannot put it down.

    On the other hand, Mouse/MaryAnn in the Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin is not my most favorite character, but I really love that whole series. It made me sad when I was done with all the books.

    Oh, and I both love and hate Rhoda Manning in Ellen Gilchrist’s books. She’s a temperamental and stubborn redhead (me too) but I love her more when she’s a funny, smart and curious kid than when she’s grown woman and is horrible in her love relationships. She’s flawed and real.

  86. Evan
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    I love Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. She is so lively and human. Also like Claudette Blum in a Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. She is such a tragic figure who finds so much strength in the face of incredible adversity. And in the end I loved that she was a cranky old woman. Mary Doria Russell has wonderful use of words and creates powerful imagery in her stories. She also wrote two science fiction books, The Sparrow and Children of God. Her characters are so powerful in their own flaws.

  87. montanarose
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

    Jo March. Dagny Taggart. Scout Finch. Francie Nolan. Scarlett O’Hara. Karen Blixsen (if only to be able to sleep with Dennis Finch-Hatton . . . sigh!). Ripley. Mabel Dodge Luhan. Georgia O’Keefe (even though these last two apparently could not abide each other). Belle Starr, the outlaw queen. Etta Place. Clara in “Lonesome Dove.” Beryl Markham. Amelia Earhart.

    Somebody stop me, please!

  88. carmel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

    Pip, “Great Expectations”, one of my old time favorites .. Charles Dickens…and Miss Havisham too…

  89. s
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

    Deputy Chief Inspector Jane Tennyson as played by Helen Mirren in the series “Prime Suspect” Best series ever

  90. Karen
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:28 pm

    I seem to like the younger characters: Anne, with an E (Green Gables), Will Tweedy from ‘Cold Sassy Tree’ and Rory from ‘Gilmore Girls’.

    I entirely agree that all protagonists are not necessarily likeable.

  91. carmel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    The Andes Survivors…just read it !

  92. Karen
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

    PS I thought of an older character whom I love, Major Pettigrew (‘Mr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand’)

  93. karzie
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    I loved Lisbeth too. Didn’t have a real problem with Katniss (can’t wait for the movie) I usually read a lot of cop murder mysteries and political thriller. My favorite is the jaded cop Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly’s novels and Mitch Rapp a kick-ass, undercover killer in Vince Flynn’s novels. I adore the lead character in Dean Koontz series, Odd Thomas. AND I’m ALWAYS looking for new books to read…YAY!! I think I found some..lol!

  94. U
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:53 am

    I love Samuel Hamilton from East of Eden. And Atticus Finch from To kill a mockingbird.

    The books I love are so many I can’t even begin to list them. :)

  95. Claudia
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 3:27 am

    Off the subject, but you should put
    Tomorrow When the War Began on your side bar book list. You had blogged about that book and I was curious to see what type of book you like. I bought it and was HOOKED. I read all 7 books of the series and have only 1 left of the Ellie Chronicles from after the war. My daughter and son-in-law are hooked as well. I also have We The Drowned on my bookshelf ready to read. So along with letting us into your life with your blogging and pictures of your farmily you have turned us on to some awesome books!!!! Thank you Shreve!

  96. Marie
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 4:28 am

    As for me, I’ve found that there are characters that I genuinely like – Jehane from The Lions of Al-Rassan, Shen Tai from Under Heaven (most of Guy Gavriel Kay’s characters, actually), Lusa from Prodigal Summer, Lyra from The Golden Compass, Blèmia Borowicz from La Dame de Berlin (a French novel by Frank & Vautrin).

    And then there are the characters that I dislike but somehow grudgingly respect – Scarlett O’Hara and Katniss, yes, for instance. Characters that I can’t really relate to, come to think of it…

  97. Rachel
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 5:15 am

    I spent a good part of last year reading the Game of Thrones books and agree with Britney who mentioned that Tyrion is a great character. However, I’m more attached to Arya. She, like Lisbeth, is a survivor who learns to take matters into her own hands.

  98. Deanna
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 5:42 am

    I adore Downton Abbey but was totally disgusted by Lady Mary.

    Did you notice how Mary Boulton in Outlander began to have a better relationship with horses toward the end of the book? I think she was becoming less crazy and therefore more in tune with animals.

  99. Cathy
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 6:27 am

    Thanks from me also for the recommendation of the Tomorrow when the War Began series – RACED through them all!
    Also, Jane Whitefield in the series named for her by Thomas Perry. What a kick-ass woman! Definitely my heroine :)

  100. emily
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:06 am

    Teresa in Arturo Perez-Riverte’s The Queen of the South. I’ve read it more times than I should probably admit. It is so well written and the character is so strong.

  101. Jane
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:17 am

    There was a book which I read many times growing up about a boy who goes to live in the woods by himself and lived off the land. Can’t remember the name…Pippi Longstocking because she was so fun and free. Carson McCullers Frankie and the maybe everyone in To Kill a Mockingbird…Most recently Chet in the Chet and Bernie mysteries. Very funny and written in the voice of a dog.

  102. kathie
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:18 am

    Baba from Kiterunner
    Ruby from Cold Mountain
    Gus McCrae from Lonesome Dove
    Alexandra Fuller’s mother from her memoir “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight”
    Fern from Charlotte’s Web…and many others.

  103. Wendy
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    Wow… everyone has such exceptional books they favor… but I’ll throw caution to the winds and add a few genre choices (in no particular order):

    1. Jude from Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts) – she’s at a crossroads, terrified of her own need, afraid to be herself. I identify strongly with this character.

    2. Eve Dallas from JD Robb’s (AKA Nora Roberts) “In Death” series – Eve is tough, almost the anti-girl, suspicious and mistrustful of people due to her personal history and in her role as a police detective. Some days, I feel very much like Dallas.

    3. Shreve from The Daily Coyote – this protagonist fills me with wonder and awe. What courage! I want to be Shreve when I grow up. ;)

    4. Rose from The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey – another “awakening” sort of character, coming into one’s own power (in her case, very literally).

    I am a Seeker and I suppose I always will be, and I identify with protagonists who are struggling to Become. There’s also a Warrior in me that I see reflected in Eve Dallas, wanting justice and the ability to fight to see it happen. Characters who are strong enough to find their way, forge a new path, these are the women I hold as heroines.

  104. Hawk
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:41 am

    @ Jane: boy goes off and lives off the land? That sounds like My Side of the Mountain. Which was an awesome read.

    Whoever mentioned Howl’s Moving Castle, thank you!! I just finished reading both books involving him (second one is Castle in the Sky) and it was *wonderful* – I think I agree that Howl kind of steals your heart. Sophie’s pretty awesome though.

    I also thought of another heroine I really like: CE Murphy’s protagonist in the Walker Papers. She’s very practical in some ways, hard-headed, stubborn, and occasional thick as two short planks – but through her adventures she always sticks it out, and she’s pretty tough; and she always develops, just a bit more each time, which keeps me coming back!

    Thank you Shreve for starting this discussion! I do admire you immensely, but I could never, ever do what you do. I know myself well enough to know that I’d be miserable and feeling deprived rather than empowered by living as you do. It’s amazing and wonderful that you CAN live as you do! But it’s not for me. Yet, I still draw so much inspiration from your writing, because while my choices may be different, I feel more confident in making my own choices and sticking to them, because I’ve got a great example before me!

  105. shreve
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    Jane (#101)~ My Side Of The Mountain? I loved that book!
    Hawk ~ my own choices…. that is the key! :)

  106. MaggieMnm
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    I loved Owen Meaney from John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meaney. It’s one of my favorite books with one of the best endings EVER. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you do. It bogs down a bit in the middle but the ending is such a great reward.

  107. MaggieMnm
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    I also really loved the protagonist in Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

  108. Evan
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    Wow, great comments. I remember the protagonists that I had read and forgotten. I LOVE “West with the Wind” by Beryl Markam. I also enjoyed the biography of Gertrude Bell. She was an 19th century accomplished woman who traveled through Arabia. Great read!

    Awesome comments and time to dust off my bookshelf and reread some of these classics.

  109. Meg A.
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    One of my all time favorites would be the classic Elizabeth Bennett. Elizabeth was still one that would still stand up for herself, even amid the restraints of a society that viewed women as nothing more than property.

    Another set of protagonists that were flawed, yet beautiful were Sean and Puck in Maggie Steifvater’s “The Scorpio Races.” Both have faults, lost family but it is amazing to see the journey they both travel through in the novel. And hey, there are horses and water horses in the novel that would just as soon eat a person! Can’t beat that either!

  110. Karin
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    I just came back to add Sam from My Side of the Mountain and see someone beat me to it…so I have to nominate Frightful instead! Also Thomas-Builds-a-Fire from Sherman Alexie’s stories, portrayed as a perfect balance of sage and goof in the Smoke Signals movie.

  111. Dana
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    I love Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson from Patricia Briggs series starting with Moon called…that may just be because I love that she can shapeshift into a coyote.

    I loved the narrative of Chance in One good dog.

    On television, I love Gregory House on House. so wish I had the nerve to act the way he does.

    I also loved Billy Coleman in Where the Red fern grows…what a classic

  112. I Hermit
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    My list, not in order:

    Daily Coyote ALL

    Siddhartha/ Mahatsamatman/Sam,Lord of light By Roger Zelazny

    Jack Reacher, By Lee Child

    The crazy ex Governor of FL in a number of Carl Hiaasen books

    Doc Ford and Tomlinson in Randy Wayne Whites books

    Merle (dog) Merle’s Door by Ted Karasote

    Trixie Koontz (dog) A big Little life by Dean Koontz

    Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn in Tony Hillerman books

    Arthur Dent, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Dr. Who series of same name

    Spenser, Robert B. Parker books

    Sharp, Bernard Cornwallis books

  113. Andrea
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:41 am

    I’m on the flip side where I have to like the protagonist (at least one of them if there are multiples) or else I don’t like the book. Because I didn’t care for Katniss or the girl in the The Girl Who series, I didn’t care for either of those books and could not continue on with the series.

    I adore the girl in the Flavia Du Lace novels so I love those books even though the writing tends to be dissolving with each new novel. I loved the main ladies in The Help and I loved Ada and Leah in The Poisonwood Bible, both novels are on my top 10 list. There are several that I like in the Fire and Ice series too which are fab fantasy books if you like that genre. (I could go on but I won’t make this too long! :) )

  114. Sheri Nugent
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    LOVE Lisbeth – and miss her.

    Dagny Taggart – Atlas Shrugged

    Alice – Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass

    Pip – Great Expectations

  115. IA Girl
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    Mrs. Marini in The End by Salvatore Scibona
    Queenie in Lark Rise to Candleford, BBC Productions
    Levin in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  116. Sydnie
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    I am SO loving this topic and comment thread. I will never be able to get through all of the books I’m adding to my “to-read” list.

    I actually liked Katniss as a protagonist, but when I think about actually knowing her… I’m not sure if we would be friends. Maybe!

    My teenage niece got me reading Ellen Hopkins – the Crank series. I LOVED the books, but I hated the protagonist. She was so frustrating and selfish and stupid!! I hope my niece thinks so too! :)

    Enzo and Denny from The Art of Racing in the Rain are some of my very favorites. Love, love, love, love.

    I never read Anne of Green Gables until just recently – never thought I would like it – but I loved her too!!!!

  117. Marg
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    Since I got this dang computer my reading list has shrunk immensely! Must break the habit and get back to holding a book in my hands, reading a couple of chapters then falling asleep lol. I’ll just mention one favorite character that inspired me and that is Claire from the Outlander series. She is intelligent, adaptable, capable and loyal.

  118. dogheart
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:58 am

    As others have said, Owen Meaney and Antonia from My Antonia. AMAZING books.

  119. Kim
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    This is such a joy! Jo March (and of course, Louisa May Alcott herself) has always been a kindred spirit to me. Elizabeth Bennett, of course, and how I loved Scarlett O’Hara, especially as a teenager! I’m afraid to admit this, but I loved Elphaba from Wicked. HATED those books, but read them all for love of that defiant woman with the courage of her convictions. Also, Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins, Jonas from The Giver, Larkin and Lalo in Baby (but since I read it for the first time as an adult and a teacher, it was Ms. Minifred who I related to personally). I could do this forever.

  120. Katherine Knupp
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    I loved Katniss, probably because she felt so authentic and Collins allowed her to be who she was, a selfish a**hole, through the whole series. Katniss didn’t suddenly rise to the occasion when called upon to be the “leader” of a revolution and her struggle through that felt genuine. I would’ve felt cheated had she transformed into the “Protagonist” everyone expected her to become.

    Out of Africa by/about Isak Dinesen lives in my head. I love her.

    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. What a protagonist. What an Antagonist. Love all those little freaks.

    And, The Dude, in The Big Lebowski. Best. Protagonist. Ever.

  121. Leanne
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    Definitely Elizabeth Bennet! From Pride and Prejudice.
    Also Anne Frank.

  122. Alyssa
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    Aah I forgot about Lyra and His Dark Materials! SUCH a good series!

  123. Sydnie
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    I also really loved – and would love to be friends with – Connie Willis’s female protagonists. Joanna in Passage stayed with me for so long after I finished the book. I would never have picked up her books – they are classified as science fiction, which is not my thing. But she’s a local author and did a reading and discussion in a bookstore where I was working. Everyone was so enamored with her books that I had to give them a try – amazing!!

  124. Sherri
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    @patr- I too loved Duma Key great summer read.

    I think my all time favourite would be Ayla in Jean Auel’s Clan of Cave Bear series.

  125. Erica
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    Jo from Little Women, a classic. I just finished Cinder by MArissa Meyer and loved her as well. It’s a great re-imagining of Cinderella using a cyborg mechanic, if you’re into that sort of thing. That’s about it really. I’m more of a side kick loving girl myself.

  126. Sam
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville. Gotta love her character, she goes from the bottom of the pack, timid and and fearful, to Alpha.

  127. Kathleen
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    Thanks so much for the question, I am in need of a couple new books to add to the “to read” pile. I mostly read non-fiction (but I have read the Hunger Games trio and seen all 3 Millennium movies and agree with the assessments above), so my most recent protagonist love is Lily Casey Smith in “Half Broke Horses”. On the flip side, in Jeanette Walls other book “The Glass Castle”, I can’t stand any of the protagonists however I think the book is still freakishly alluring. On the lighter side, I love Wade Rouse in his book “At least in the city someone would hear me scream”. It’s always good when you actually laugh out loud when reading :)

  128. Scotty
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    james bond. like most action heroes he is highly immune to being shot although he is shot at a lot, he can knock anyone out with only a karate chop and he is highly skilled at piloting any transportation device ever. although he often loses battles he always wins the war in gambling, something quite the opposite of real life, and he always gets the girl even if she totally hates him. along with his cheeky innuendo (which he always gets away with as being timely and smart) his main character flaw is his weakness for attractive women. huge amounts of money or valuable objects usually fall right in his lap yet he always transfers the wealth back to it’s rightful owner, a modern day robin hood. bond has a personal tailor in most all countries, has a license to kill and moneypenny (who gets younger and more attractive every year) will always love him even if everyone in the world has turned against him. when he does things that will land most adrenaline junkies in the hospital for the rest of their lives he is able to escape without a scratch. he is a great protagonist because it’s not good enough to be bond’s friend or ally to revel in the spoils of the spy game, that will only get you killed. it’s only good enough, if you are bond. the only real problem is, does this guy even have a home or a house? king leonidas does in 300, and maximus in gladiator does. they are legends because of that. bond will never be a legend because he just won’t die!

  129. Emms
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    Sebastian from C.S. Harris’ “Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series”. He’s a cross between a young Mr. Rochester and James Bond.

    Sherlock Holmes.

    I’m sure there are a few more if i thought about what’s in my library but those two popped up pre-thought! <:O)

  130. amanda
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Matilda!!! Roald Dahl is one of my very very favorites, and I read Matilda over and over as a child. She’s so independent, curious, patient, clever and just good. Very inspiring.

    For movies, I have to go with Maude from Harold and Maude!! I love everything about her. My mantra isn’t WWJD, it’s What Would MAUDE Do!!?? She never steers me wrong.

  131. Leisa
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    My all time favorites are Jamie and Claire from Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series. I live in fear of something happening to Jamie. He’s my hero.

  132. penny plavidal
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    I don’t comment much but HAD to leave my protagonist choice and as I scrolled down, I saw that the comment before me beat me to it. Claire from the Outlander series is so smart, tough, and sexy. I got engrossed in that series by surprise. Not my normal book-type choice, but it’s fantastic!

  133. Emily @ HomeForTwo
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    Even though this will show my true geekiness, I was really drawn to all of the characters in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, some because I love them, and some because I loved to hate them.
    He paints such a beautiful world of fantasy, and even though I have read criticism that he introduces too many characters, I think the epic tale he is telling is best told through the eyes of many.

  134. Jenny
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    Would have loved to meet Katniss but only the Katniss from book one!! The others were a little too moody for my taste!!

  135. Keitha
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

    Thanks to Kathleen #127. I was trying to remember Jeanette Walls name & her grandmother in both those books.

  136. Eileen
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    I second Maggie(#106)– Owen, in A Prayer for Owen Meany. I actually dropped the book at the end, I was so blown away. So excellent.

  137. Lyn
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

    Demeter, mother of Persephone. She never gave up.

    Scarlett O’Hara. Come to think of it, she never gave up either.

    Eve Dallas in the “… in Death” series.

    Yep, you guessed it.

  138. harmanica
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

    I loved Lucy Snow in Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. I do hope that I could be so self controlled and courageous in everyday life challenges. The ending both breaks my heart and gives hope every time I read it.

    And I also love Possesion (book only, can’t possibly envision Paltrow as my heroine so will never see the movie) but I just want to shake some guts and sense into Roland in the early part of the book. Same with Maude. I do eventually like who they become, but the beginning actions sometimes annoy me.

    I am sure I could think of many, many more, but these were the first two books that popped into my head at your question. Favorites, I read again and again, particularly when I am feeling low.

  139. harmanica
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    … Oops! I forgot to mention I adored Lisbeth and couldn’t help but read all three non-stop. The cleverness and determination to hold yourself above it all… whew!
    I envy that coyote girl, too. ;^)

  140. Jane
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

    Thank you so much to HAWK . My side of the mountain it is. I must’ve read that book 8 times as a young one. I was hoping someone would know the book which is why I checked back to read the comments. THANK YOU!

  141. Rachel
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Oooh, how do you choose? There are so many protagonists that hit a nerve, that I really empathized with at very specific times in my life. I’ve seen so many I love mentioned above, so I’ll not repeat.

    John Grady Cole-I struggle with McCarthy’s writing, so bloody and violent. Cole is so passionate and idealistic, love him. Had to stop reading “Cities of the Plain.”

  142. Nerdoneirik
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    Ohhhhh books are my crack but I’m limiting myself to my top 10 in no real order:
    1. Jane True from the Tempest series by Nicole Peeler (so good, SO GOOD)
    2. Harry Potter. YES, I know it seems cliche BUT the world Ms. Rowling created inspired many kids to read and write (via fanfiction) and that alone is pretty amazing. And come one, who would say no to being a witch or wizard?
    3. Fainne of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters Trilogy. She’s the final protagonist of the series and this book made me sob like no other. It’s amazing.
    4. MacKayla Lane of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Someone mentioned this previously.
    5. Jacky Rowan of Charles de Lint’s Jack of Kinrowan. This man will forever be my favorite author.
    6. Charlie Asher of Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job. I laughed so hard reading this book I almost choked to death. No lie.
    7. Jayne Heller of M.L.N. Hanover’s The Black Sun’s Daughter series.
    8. Natasha Newlyn of Paul Brandon’s The Wild Reel.
    9. Abigail Von Normal of Christopher Moore’s Bite Me.
    10. Claire Beauchamp of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
    And many, many, MANY more…

  143. Dawn
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    So many good ones listed by others!

    I would add Edgar from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

  144. Noel
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    Alessandro Giuliani from Helprin’s “A Soldier of the Great War”.

  145. The M Half
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    Jamie Lyn Weaver mentioned the book I thought of instantly – The Book Thief. Only, I loved Death in the book. So empathetic, textured, and just a fascinating character. Leisel, too, of course.

    I loved Katniss. Well, I was fascinated by her anyway. But honestly, I wanted to take Rue in my arms and hold her. I even (blush) named a puppy Rue after that book.

    I can’t remember her name, but the woman in A Thousand Splendid Suns was amazing.

    Another one I can’t remember – the woman in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

    Aibileen in The Help

    Of course Shreve in Daily Coyote. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

    What a fun exercise!

  146. Colleen G
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

    Holy cow! I am waaaayyyy behind on my reading! Lots of intriguing books mentioned. I better get busy! Someone mentioned Sherlock Holmes and he’s definitely one of my all time faves. Just finished two of his books. Well, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. I would love to hang out with Sherlie. LOVE this post and the comments.

  147. Kaelie
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    I LOVED Lisbeth. She was one of my favorite characters. However, my grandfather (also an avid reader) told me that Larsson was working on continuing the series and had two more books almost complete before he passed. I’m hoping someone edits the correctly and releases them. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lisbeth overcomes next.

    Some of my favorits: Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman (both from True Blood book series – wonderful), this necromancer girl named Awa from a really weird book called Enterprise of Death, and I could go on and on.

  148. BMAC
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    The protagonist from this Lucinda Williams song hits me hard:

    You wait in the car on the side of the road
    Lemme go and stand awhile, I wanna know you’re there but I wanna be alone
    If only for a minute or two
    I wanna see what it feels like to be without you
    I wanna know the touch of my own skin
    Against the sun, against the wind

    I walked out in a field, the grass was high, it brushed against my legs
    I just stood and looked out at the open space and a farmhouse out a ways
    And I wondered about the people who lived in it
    And I wondered if they were happy and content
    Were there children and a man and a wife?
    Did she love him and take her hair down at night?

    If I stray away too far from you, don’t go and try to find me
    It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it doesn’t mean I won’t come back and
    stay beside you
    It only means I need a little time
    To follow that unbroken line
    To a place where the wild things grow
    To a place where I used to always go

    If only for a minute or two
    I wanna see what it feels like to be without you
    I wanna know the touch of my own skin
    Against the sun, against the wind

  149. Catherine
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

    Several have mentioned it, but you really must read The Book Thief.

    Liesel is a strong protagonist, who I adore for her love of words, emotional intelligence, and heart. But all of the other main characters, Mama, Papa, Rudy are just as beautifully written.

    It is the kind of story that is so moving, I often had to stop reading for a few minutes to absorb the weight of the words and ideas on the page. I’ve never read a story told like this one, even if its setting (Germany, World War II) is so commonly visited in other books and films. I almost never re-read books, and I’ve read this one three times, and it breaks my heart at a different point every time, but always manages to patch it together again. So affecting, and as the others have mentioned, you will miss the characters when you’re done. Read it, Shreve, and then tell us what you think!

    Also if we’re in the category of characters you want to hang out with: everyone in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  150. Davidray
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

    Perhaps my favorite protagonist is Gideon Fry in Larry McMurtry’s “Leaving Cheyenne”.

    I connect with him because many of his struggles are my own and I see myself in his character. I connect with his desire to do the right thing, even if it means denying what will ultimately make him happiest. The book makes me think about morality, happiness, love, and life and how they drive people to make the decisions they make, and about how the decisions we make affect ourselves and those around us. All the while Gideon Fry epitomizes the struggle.

    I understand your feelings about Katniss, I have many of the same feelings about Winston Smith in “1984”. I want him to succeed desperately, yet I find myself not caring about him at all as a character.

  151. grimma
    February 24th, 2012 @ 1:13 am

    The first one who comes to mind is Althea, from the Liveship Traders series, by Robin Hobb

  152. cassie
    February 24th, 2012 @ 7:48 am

    A little late, but this was a great post! So much fun reading everyones answers . . . Mine are:

    Arwen from Lord of the Rings

    Rachel Morgen from Kim Harrisons The Hallows series

    Jane Yellowrock from Faith Hunters series.

  153. Shayla Myst
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:23 am

    What a wonderful question!

    Jaenelle in The Black Jewels Trilogy (Anne Bishop)

    Joscelin in the Kushiel’s Legacy series (Jacqueline Carey) – I do like Phedre and her strength and determination is amazing, but Joscelin’s quiet strength really appeals to me.

    Will Parry in His Dark Materials series (Phillip Pullman)

    Emily Starr in New Moon series (L.M. Montgomery) I know a lot of people like Anne of Green Gables more, but Emily was the one who resonated with me the most.

    Samwise Gamgee Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)

    Belladonna in the Ephemera book (Anne Bishop)

    Ayla in Earth’s Children series (Jean Auel), although I didn’t read the last book and didn’t care for the one before that. I thought she started to become less than she could be.

    Mary Ingles in Follow the River (Alexander Thom) – amazing strength of will.

    Rose O’Malley in Ambitions (Audrey Howard) – old book, looks like a romance novel, but it’s deeper than that.

    Sorcha in the Sevenwaters series (Juliet Marillier)

    There are so many more that have already been listed. Jonas, Maia, Karana, Elphaba, and it keeps going.

    This was a lot of fun!

  154. Jen
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    The widow and mother from Incendiary

    Bridget Jones-So real

  155. Martha
    February 24th, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    My husband and I recently finished “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and I am still in withdrawal. I want more Lisbeth. I want to know what her next misadventure will be and it is devastating to know there is no more.

    My favorite book is “The Red Tent” and Dinah is a delightful protagonist. Even my Southern Baptist mother liked that book, and went looking for the story in the Bible.

    I look forward to mining the great books others have listed here. Thanks as always Shreve ~)

  156. Katie
    February 24th, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    So many of mine have already been mentioned, but I’d also add Lestat de Lioncourt from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

    He is the true “Brat Prince”, and such a highly layered character. Equal parts angel and devil, and so very unpredictable.

  157. christine
    February 24th, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    Agree with Jane Eyre. My favorite book.
    Agree with Ender. Second favorite book.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Katniss, but this may be a sign of personality differences of me to those who didn’t like her, which is fine.

    Doctor Who, of course. His view of humanity blows me away everytime the character says a great line.

    Regarding Wuthering Heights – I love the book but don’t like a single character in it. Writing a novel with characters that seem to have very few redeming qualities is fairly brave. But that was sort of the point. It’s a story about ugly expectations and behaviors in society and how it twists the soul. It’s things like that which make me love a story in spite of the characters.

  158. Nancy J
    February 24th, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    Elizabeth Bennet (definitely not any of the movie ones only the book one. Also Francie Nolan, I think I was her when I was eleven.

  159. don_m
    February 24th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Here’s what happened to me and might happen when you read this book:

    1. You will read it straight through or will be annoyed when you can’t get back to it immediately.
    2. You will unwittingly and unashamedly laugh out your goofiest guffaws whether alone or amongst total strangers and not give a sh*t. Top tip: keep some tissues on the ready-line to wipe up tears, spittle and occasional mucous.
    3. You will randomly start reading out loud to anyone or no one. The Farmily will endure heavy doses of this and they will be understanding.
    4. You will finish the book and be a little depressed because there is no more.
    5. You will read the book again for the XXth time and smile. You will always get something from it that you did not get before. You will repeat steps 1 through 5.

    Not to overhype, but I’ve had this book since 1983 and I read it every couple/three years, the first and second readings nearly back to back.

  160. don_m
    February 24th, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    Ignatius J. Reilly is the protagonist in The Confederacy of Dunces. Forgot to mention that. He is flawed and fascinating, as are all the characters, as are we all.

  161. Nancey
    February 24th, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    I loved Death in the Book Thief, I loved Liesel in that same book.

    Swamplandia, that little girl, I just wanted to hold her hand and travel with her, I forget her name now.

    In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard, wow, loved her, she is unnamed in the book even though, given my track record I would have forgotten it already anyway.

    The Quality of Life Report by Meghan Daum, loved her!

    All of Anne Lamott’s fiction she’s got great protaganists. they’re all so likeable and sweet.

  162. Michele G.
    February 24th, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    In no particular order:

    Stephanie Plum
    Anne of Green Gables
    Trixie Belden (liked this series much better than the Nancy Drew books)
    Scout – “To Kill a Mockingbird”
    Charlotte the Spider – “Charlotte’s Web”
    any female protagonist in Dean R. Koontz’s novels
    Marge & Lisa Simpson
    Jo – “Little Women”
    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Val Riordan & Molly Michon – “The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove” by Christopher Moore
    Jack Reacher
    Gregory David Roberts – author of “Shantaram”
    Hawkeye Pierce – from M*A*S*H

    and of course Lisbeth Salander

  163. Martha
    February 24th, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    Here’s another one I just remembered. I haven’t read through all the replies but don’t think anyone has mentioned Calliope/Cal from “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. I couldn’t put that book down. My son read it in school in 9th grade and when I saw how it captivated him, I had to read it too. Sadly, I didn’t care for Eugenides’s “The Marriage Plot” at all.

  164. Jess
    February 24th, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    Possibly my favorite protagonist ever is Garion from David Eddings’ Belgariad/Malloreon series. After that, it’s probably Will Treaty and Halt O’Carrick from the Ranger’s Apprentice books by John Flanagan. I got so attached to those two that I just couldn’t bring myself to read his Brotherband Chronicles series, because I felt like I was betraying Will and Halt. I’m weird like that.

  165. Maggie
    February 25th, 2012 @ 1:13 am


    From “The Deed of Paksenarrion”

    She moved me, gave me strength, offered perspective… man, what a character and what a book. Yes, it’s fantasy, but the farthest thing from cheesy. AMAZING. Highly recommended.

  166. Evan
    February 25th, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    @Michele G. I LOVED Trixie Belden! I still have the whole series from my childhood. So was so much cooler than Nancy Drew!

  167. Tricia
    February 25th, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

    I love the “Gunslinger” Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Yeah, I know, I’m probably one of the few SK fans that come to your site. The Dark Tower series is unlike the majority of SK’s work. In fact, many of his fans DON’T like the 7 book(!) series. I’ve read it several times & always miss Roland and his companions when I’m done.

    What I love about Roland is he is tough as nails, but comes to find a softer side as the series moves along. He is on a quest and lets nothing stop him. He can be tender but also a killer when he has to be. He admits his faults and while proud of his skills and accomplishments remains humble. He is a man you want on your side & never as an enemy.

  168. Kerri
    February 25th, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

    I am Reading the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldron. I love Claire and Jamie.

    Worf from Star Trek TNG

    Telc from Stargate SG1

  169. deb
    February 25th, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    Oh, of course. Stephen King in his book “On Writing”.

  170. Ava
    February 25th, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

    Wow. This turned out to be tougher than I thought at first. There are a lot of characters I enjoy but don’t particularly care about much.

    A tip of the that hat to IHermit up there for mentioning Merle, the dog, of “Merle’s Door.” It may seem odd to list a real dog–it’s nonfiction–but the book does such a great job of showing how genuinely individual animals are. Merle is very much his own dog, and patiently taught his human to recognize that.

    Miles Vorkosigan, from the series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Actually his parents Aral and Cordelia as well. They’re very humanly flawed but egads, they live mindfully. Bujold can’t write a boring or two-dimensional character–and she’s compulsively quotable. But Miles is her prime creation, so damaged and driven but always seeking and refining what honor is.

    And Tremeraire, the dragon from the series by Naomi Novik. It’s not my usual kind of book but the historical precision (when one assumes the existence of dragons during the Napoleonic Wars) is great but valiant, naive, devoted Tremeraire is the heart of it.

  171. Nancy-Sue Rose
    February 25th, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

    Brat Farrar by josephine Tey,
    Emily Starr by L M Montgomery (and Anne of Green Gables, of course.)
    the Mortmain family by Dodie Smith (of 101 dalmations fame.
    Harriet Vane in the Lord Peter Mysteries by Dorothy Sayers,
    Innocent Smith in Manalive by G K Chesterton.

  172. Ellen
    February 25th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    Ditto, Don_M! Confederacy of Dunces is my favorite book of all time. We can all see part of ourselves in Ignatius Reilly!

  173. don_m
    February 26th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    Ellen, you minx!!

  174. Angie
    February 26th, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    Any woman artist, philosopher, musician or activist if I really think about it. Emma Goldman. Irena Sendler. Anne Frank. Loretta Lynn.

  175. Angie
    February 26th, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    I read lots of biographies and poetry! But if it’s fictional..any original faery tale girl/woman (not disney versions), the Little Match Girl, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood. Also I love Neil Gaiman’s women characters: Door, Death, Desire, Delerium.

  176. Nimisha
    February 27th, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    Harry in “The Blue Sword”

  177. Heather
    February 27th, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    Anne from Anne of Green Gables is by far my favorite protagonist. I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid.

  178. Hilary
    February 27th, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    Oh – love this!

    Don Elijio Panti from the book Sastun – he is a real man, Mayan healer…but with just as much love, the author Rosita Arvigo. This is one of those – “I want her life” books.

    My classic pick would be Jo from Little Women. Not my absolute all time favorite book (though I loved it) but I have referred or remembered this character so many times in my life it is a bit weird!

    ANY and ALL characters from Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver – – – ok, you must right now, go to the library (or if your are fancy – download it from the internet) and get the book on tape/CD. Barbara reads it herself, and her husband supplies the bird sounds before each chapter. There is something of the story mixed with the cadence of her voice that is my meditation, or my escape, when I am having the the worst of the worst days. Honestly, it is like listening to great music.

    Anne Lamott, while we are on the subject of books on tape. SHe also has a way of reading her own books that makes me giddy. By the way – these are actually the only 2 authors I listen to on tape – I much prefer my own voice-in-my-head thing usually. I love her autobiographies because she is honest and real, yet kind and calm and calm and kind and her voice shows that. I like strong, in your face, tell-it-like-it-is women who have the juxtaposing softness in their speech. I strive to pull it off.

    Thats all!

  179. Liana Vitousek
    February 28th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    Lusa Landowski Widener from Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. She was one of three main characters, but every time I re-read the novel (which is ALL THE TIME) I love her more. She faces loss and adversity constantly, and manages to work through it by finding her own way of doing things, without hugely disrupting the system, which seems very logical and real. She’s inspiring in how simply she chooses to live and how she makes it work and still manages to make everyone happy, particularly herself.

  180. Eija
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    Thanks Shreve,
    You have made us think…again! Do we love our heroes and heroines, because we can relate to them or because we wish to be like them, learn from them, admire them or do we just find fascination in reading about humans; so similar, but oh so different.
    From the complexity of many modern protagonists I like to look back to (seemingly) simple characters of my childhood books…all so benign, almost naive, but so very entertaining and sneakily educational. I also loved Jo, Anne, Laura, but I really love Pollyanna and her philosophy; there really is a positive side to everything, if not today…someday! And then there is Moominmamma (by Tove Janson, Finnish childrens’ author writing in Swedish) – the always calm Moominmamma makes sure, that Moominhouse is a safe place to be, she wants everyone to be happy, appreciates individuality, but settles things when someone is wronged.

  181. Jackie
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Berle Markham as previously mentioned.

    Harriett Potter. Her biography, Love is a Wild Assault (hokey name) is a beautifully told story taken from her diary which is in the Texas State Archives.

    Donald Shimoda from Illusions by Richard Bach.

    Spoon, Dirty Sock, Can of Beans, Conch Shell and Painted Stick from Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins.

    Scarlett O’Hara is one I stayed pissed off at although I loved the book.

  182. Jackie
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    and Sailor Boy from Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, another Tom Robbins book.

  183. Aspen
    March 1st, 2012 @ 12:58 am

    What an interesting thread. Clearly I have some catch-up reading to do.

    I loved Menolly in Anne McCaffrey’s DragonSinger series.

    Catriona in her The Lady. I liked Pat, too.

    Ayla, yes, although she was so damned co-dependent in The Mammoth Hunters that I wanted to strangle both her and Jondolar. I loved her in The Valley of Horses. I also liked Tulie and Mamut.

    Jon (and Mary Bean) in The Forgotten Door. (children’s book)

    I think I find many friends in books. If I didn’t resonate at least a little with someone in the book, I’d probably not enjoy the book.

    I love Claire in the OUtlander series, and Jenny, too. (If you don’t follow Diana Gabaldon on Facebook, she’s got voting going on who should play the various characters if there is a movie. Great fun.) Hell, I love Diana!

    I loved Kelpie in Sally Watson’s YA books. I loved most of her heroines. These books passed for strong female characters back in the day. (She wrote in the sixties and seventies, I think.)

    I hated Elsie Disnmore. Y’all would, too.

    I could go on forever. Ooooh, Polly and Meg in Madeleine D’Engle’s books.

  184. Dawn
    March 1st, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    Phineus in A Separate Peace

    Tess in Tess of the Durbervilles

    John (Savage) in Brave New World

  185. sue
    March 1st, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    Fevvers – Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter… I don’t think anyone mentioned this book – the most visual experience of any book I ever read, dunno how much I like the character but what a firework display of invention from the mouth of this protagonist.

  186. Shawna
    March 1st, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    Gus Orviston from “The River Why” by David James Duncan. He had the guts to follow his heart and be in nature and do nothing but fish and be on the river. :)

  187. marilyn.aka.boo
    March 1st, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

    Glad to see I’m not the only one replying as late as March 1st, and I hope even more show up. What a wonderful topic.

    Yes, I loved Scout (and named a car after her), but Atticus Finch holds an even greater chunk of my heart in To Kill A Mockingbird.

    Jean Paget in A Town Like Alice (Nevil Shute). So strong and human and thoughtful and brave. I also loved the character as played by Helen Morse (thank you, google) in the 2-part TV miniseries. (And Joe, in the book and played by Bryan Brown in the miniseries.)

    Sybylla (played by Judy Davis, opposite Sam Neill) in the movie My Brilliant Career.

    Tiffany Aching, introduced in Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. Also all the profane, blue-tattooed, red-haired, tiny Nac Mac Feegles, exemplified by Rob Anybody, who come to her aid. And her Granny Aching, who, though no longer among the living, cast an earthy, loving, and wise presence over the wold. (Yes, the wold, not the world.)

    Ged, introduced in A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin, a young man with more talent than wisdom who suffers the consequences of his actions and grows to be a better person for it.

    While I note several references to Lusa, it is the voice of Deanna Wolfe in Prodigal Summer that I remember, on her solitary forays through the forest, spying on her coyote neighbors. And it is the interplay between crusty old Garnett Walker and practical, no-nonsense Nannie Rawley (I adore her!) that provided the most fun.

    Karana, in Island of the Blue Dolphins, inspired much early imagining and remains vivid in my mind.

    The previously mentioned Chet, canine partner in the Little Detective Agency and narrator of Dog On It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, To Fetch a Thief, and The Dog Who Knew Too Much. Though I certainly have not been envisioning a border collie (as shown on the latest cover). I thought he was more of a big mutt with some basic golden retriever tendencies. I was wrong?

    These are characters I hold dear. I’ll have to start over if I want to come up with books I like with characters I don’t…

  188. Lisa
    March 1st, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s “The Dragonriders of Pern” series, even though her sharp edges get on my nerves; I love her strength. Sassinak from “The Planet Pirates” for the same reason. Eowyn from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Ripley from “Aliens” and Sarah Connor from “Terminator.” Laura Ingalls Wilder. Diana, Princess of Wales. Mother Teresa. Anne Frank. (Is there not truth in fiction…and fiction in truth?) Helen Parr from “The Incredibles” (and of course, E.)

    : D

  189. Pat D.
    March 2nd, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    Hmmmm….Amazing how the best protagionists follow “The Hero’s Journey” pattern of being called away, going forth on adventures, and eventually returning changed.

    Here are some who have stuck with me:

    Wart (Arthur) in T.H. White’s series “The Once and Future King” for always learning from Merlin, even when the lessons were hard ones…

    Bilbo Baggins (“The Hobbit”), for managing to “go on an adventure”, even though Hobbits simply don’t DO things like that, and for getting “there and back again”…

    Harry Potter (J. R. Rowling’s YA book series), for surviving a lousy start in life and winning friends and mentors along the way that helped him defeat his enemies…

    May Dodd (narrator of “One Thousand White Women: The journals of May Dodd”) for finding the courage to escape the confines of her imprisonment and for adapting to a massive culture shock when she’s sent to live with the Cheyennes…

    Jo March (“Little Women”), for having a dream and sticking to it until she accomplished it and became a writer at last!

  190. Pat D.
    March 2nd, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    Just to clarify, “One Thousand White Women” is a novel by Jim Fergus, and is WELL worth the reading. He’s an amazing author.

  191. janelle
    March 3rd, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

    augusten burroughs’ books are all great reads. funny and touching.
    ‘the center of everything’ – the main character begins as a young girl and grows up in the novel. the writing and characters are so vivid.
    the main character in ‘little stalker’ by Jennifer belle is hilarious.
    and America in ‘America the beautiful’ by moon unit Zappa, so honest and true.

  192. I Hermit
    March 4th, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    A number of Farley Mowat books:
    The Dog that wouldn’t Be
    Grey Seas Under
    Never Cry Wolf
    People of the Deer

    Also Jack Douglas Books especially Shut up and eat your Snowshoes! Reiko Jacks wife giving birth during a howling snowstorm in the wilds of Canada on the back of a snowmobile and her immortal words at the end of the ordeal “I go back to Japan”. A definite must read!

  193. Blog Princess G
    March 7th, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    What an interesting question. I love Lyra in the Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. Jane Eyre is right up there, as a heroine who had to be the heroine of her own life before she could return to be with the man she loves in their new life. I so admire Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, such a strong, smart woman. In films, for some reason, I am drawn to young people finding their way: Dennis Christopher in Breaking Away, Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite, the gang in Diner, Ashley Judd in Ruby in Paradise, and – in the book – Stingo in Sophie’s Choice. I just feel for them all, young and searching for something.

  194. Kathleen M.
    March 8th, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

    It’s funny you mentioned this; I teach high school English, and I often tell my students that some of my favorite books involve characters I love to hate (or that frustrate me, etc.). Most particularly this list would include Edna Pontellier from The Awakening, Nora from A Doll House, and Ophelia from Hamlet. Their strength (well, not so much for Ophelia) and helplessness drives me crazy, but I’ll read them over and over again.

  195. Moni
    March 12th, 2012 @ 5:19 am

    Mr. Fowler, the father from the film In the Bedroom. A perfect man, a perfect father, and husband. But I would be terrified to meet him, as I would not be able to say anything to him, anything to ease his grief.

    I watch that movie time and time again. The short story is even better, read it, if you have time, Andre Dubus is brilliant.

  196. Essy Goss
    March 13th, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

    I have to agree with Jane Eyre, and Claire (from the outlander series), and I also enjoy Dr. Kay Scarpetta from Patricia Cornwell’s novels. I enjoy all of her books even though they are a little graphic, but I don’t really think I would want to know the author. I think I would feel a little too “backward” amongst all that technical knowledge.

    I was intrigued by the outlander series, and would love to see this in film.

    I was amazed with the book “A Stolen Life” by Jacee Dugard. Although it was a heartbreaking story, I think it shows a lot of strenth to put this all on paper and offer it to the world to see. I know that I could write about it, but I don’t know if I could actually let anyone read it.

    I must confess to you that reading “The Daily Coyote” was so much fun and I was so bummed when I got to the end of the book that it was “the end of the book”. I could have read about your “family” for days and days more… and am having fun reading this blog… as I have always loved reading real biographies, and I love diaries… infact I have kept one ever since I was 12. I live in Michigan, and we have a lot of coyotes, and even an open season for them to hunt for sport (something that I have hated for years), but now, every time I see a coyote lying on the side of the road where it has been killed by a motorist, I think about Charlie and how lucky he is to have you!

  197. K
    March 13th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    I have a hard time loving a book if I don’t love the protagonist, which is probably why I’m such a picky reader. (When it comes to TV and movies, however, I am wholly, viciously addicted to “loving to hate” some pretty despicable people. Go figure!) That said, the best book I’ve read in recent memory that featured completely unforgettable and ridiculously beloved protagonists is The Girls by Lori Lansens. I can’t recommend it highly enough! (I know you weren’t asking for a book recommendation, but there you go!) It’s been almost 4 years since I read it and I still think of those girls on a fairly regular basis. Chills…I can’t even say that I wish I knew these girls in real life because I feel like I do. Happy reading! : )

  198. Nikki
    March 28th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    Shreve, I keep thinking about this post and I’ve mentioned it to a few friends. Anyway, I have to say I really grew to care for the character Margo in “Once Upon A River” by Bonnie Jo Campbell. That was one book that I didn’t want to end.

  199. lian92
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:42 am

    Sory im late well i love Katniss but if we ever met we woudnt get on. And there are many ,main charecters in books, i want to slap, like Tris in Divergent or Shuya in Battle Royale. but my favorits are Viola and Todd in Chaos walking, and i also love Callum and Saphie in Noughts and Crosses and i adored Rue such a small yet strong charecter.

  200. Jenny Ketcham
    August 10th, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

    Definitely an interesting thread. I find I’m agreeing with many of your readers.

    Robin McKinley~~almost everything she writes sticks in your mind, but I think I agree Hari in The Blue Sword is my favorite of her lead characters. And Sunshine is the only one of the recent rash of vampire stories that I can stomach.

    Diana Gabaldon~~Claire and Jaime are wonderful characters, and I will wade through all of them to get more of their story. Though the Lord John books don’t hold my attention as well.

    Sally Watson~~Historical fiction for young adults, which all have strong female protagonists. Recently republished in paperback at imagecascade.com And she’s in her eighties and still writing. New ones on Amazon. My favorite character is still Valerie from Mistress Malapert, though I’d agree with Aspen that Kelpie is very strong, too.

    And two older authors that no one has mentioned, that I’ve noticed:

    Anya Seton~~Her character of Katherine Swynford (who was a real person, but I’m sure that not much more than dates and birth certificates remained for Ms. Seton to draw from)was truly haunting, and has stuck with me since my teen years.

    Georgette Heyer~~has written so many, but her Venetia Lanyon in the novel Venetia will always be my favorite, in her independence of thought, and strength of character.

  201. Cynthia
    January 29th, 2015 @ 9:36 am

    Well, it’s kind of late; I just found this.

    Favorite protagonist: Ross Poldark in Winston Graham’s series about life in 18th Century Cornwall — learned much about the human condition and the history of the period — and how large events affect small people.

    Next favorite: Henry Faber in Ken Follette’s “Eye of the Needle.” This is saying a lot, because you are rooting for Henry and the life he wants, even though he’s technically the villain or opposing force in the story. He’s just such a sweetheart if only it weren’t for the times he lived in. This, by the way is an almost perfect novel: fabulous balance and characterizations. Wonderful prose, wonderfully drawn characters, with empathy for each. A masterful example of a Real Book.

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