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Four Books Led by Characters You Love to Hate and Hate to Love

These books go against the character grain

As a Virgo, I can understand an author’s need to write the perfect book that everyone will love. This is why I love to find books that go against the grain with characters who are deeply flawed but captivating.


A lot of times these characters can be cruel, blunt, or uncaring, but they still show an aspect of life that strikes very close to true human nature. We already have a million novels with shiny likeable protagonists – but there are only a few unique characters that can really make you think.


Here’s a list of four amazing books with characters you may hate but can’t help but be obsessed with. 


This Is How You Lose Her  by Junot Díaz 


This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

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When reading Díaz’s 2013 novel, it seems both slightly out-dated but eerily familiar in light of today’s ever-changing dating scene of Tinder and Instagram. The plot focuses on the Dominican lothario, Yunior, that Díaz visits in many of his stories. His beautiful prose almost makes the reader blind to what is really happening as we follow the main character throughout his life of sexual conquests with women.


As one of the few novels I’ve read from fellow Dominican writers, this book will always be at the top of my list. This is a good read to understand more about a culture you may not know much about, but also to gain some background on the Latino author in the midst of his recent sexual harassment controversy. Come for the rich culture and language, and stay for the messed-up character.


After Birth by Elisa Albert 


After-Birth by Elisa Albert

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This novel focuses on Ari, an academic who hesitantly settles into being a mother and social outcast in the Upstate New York town she has moved to with her husband. She desperately seeks friendship in another pregnant rebel who comes to town, despite her general mistrust of other women.


Although she obviously loves her one-year-old son, Ari is very resistant to what motherhood has actually turned out to be. This is the type of character who has settled into motherhood so awkwardly that she refers to her son’s first birthday as “surgery day”.


Her dry narrative voice is really honest, shocking, and engaging. She is one of the funniest and most intelligently controversial characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone who wants to read another viewpoint on what it means in this world to be a mother, a woman, and a friend.


East of Eden by John Steinbeck


East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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There are a number of reasons as to why some people will never read this book but I am here to say: PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. The characters and setting are so richly developed it is enough to make the reader feel present in the complex story.


Cathy Ames is literally evil. You will hate her and you will hate reading the things she does throughout the plot, yet even as you watch on in horror, you find yourself impatient to get back to her storyline. She’s as hypnotizing to the reader as she is to Adam Trask. The story’s omniscient point of view and famously rich prose leaves the reader watching the story unfold before them like a grim play.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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This is a uniquely cruel story of marital revenge that goes deep into gender politics. This novel follows Nick Dunne as he undergoes public scrutiny in the wake of his wife Amy Dunne’s disappearance. While the story does start out a bit slow, be sure to stick to it to join the villain on their secret plan.


This is a great read to have your moral compass shaken up a bit as you try to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong.



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