This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.
#9. Relatable Characters (or, ‘Creating My Bookish DNA’)
One of the most exciting things, as a book nerd, and possibly one of the first determinants of whether or not I’ll like the book, is when the book I’m reading contains a character that I relate to so much, it’s almost like looking in a mirror. Sometimes you almost wonder if the author just picked you up and wrote you into his/her world.
A relatable character has such an impact on the reading experience, I think, because it’s comforting. It reaffirms that we’re not alone in some of our traits or oddities, and, especially if you’re going through a rough patch, it’s wonderful to see that a similar character makes it through tough situations and gets a happy ending. It’s almost therapeutic… or cathartic. While characters we idolized and would want to be like (aspirational characters) are also appealing, to me, this personal bond with a relatable character definitely wins out.
So I was mulling over this idea of characters I super relate to or identify with, and I thought it would be interesting to map it out: show off which characters I relate to most and create my own Bookish DNA. And wow, surprise surprise, they’re all from my favorite series.
My Bookish DNA
Probably most of us book nerds can agree on this. But especially lately at university… I am Hermione. Maybe I’m a bit less enthousiastic about being a know-it-all and answering all the questions posed in class, but my professor has lately just turned to me when asking a question. It’s pretty bad. Aside from that, there’s obviously the love of reading but also how I have difficulty to make and keep friends. I tend to just have a couple really good friends and for the rest stick to myself a lot. And I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to arguments with others.
I’m not purposefully picking the two most popular female characters in YA, I swear. But Katniss reflects my trust issues. They run deep, man. I’m constantly aware of how the people around me seem to use me for their own personal gain and it makes me resentful like hell. Like Katniss, I only have a few people that I thoroughly trust, and I would do anything to help them. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, how I overanalyze people’s actions to try to read their intentions, but that does bind me to Katniss.
Maybe this is not as relevant anymore, but rewind a few years and Allyson definitely was a big part of my bookish DNA. I did have sort of a sheltered upbringing, and going to college and being halfway around the world from my parents forced me into independence. Reading about Allyson’s transition to adulthood hit me hard. I could especially relate to how hard she found it to make friends. “Maybe making friends is a specific skill, and I missed the lesson.” Also, “I don’t seem to know how to open up to people without getting the door slammed in my face.”
Katy, aside from being a book blogger, which serves as an immediate identifier, mostly reflects my sarcastic sense of humor. She basically makes the exact same jokes and holds the same world-view as I do. However, she also definitely had me cheering for her because she’s independent, or rather resented the idea of becoming fully dependent on the love interest, Daemon. She also won’t just lie down for him, calls him out on his bullshit, and makes him work for the relationship. That’s pretty much how I am as well. I will not be a doormat! So go Katy!
Much like Hermione, Annabeth is intelligent, prizes wisdom, and always thinks rationally. She is strong and independent and won’t let the other characters push her around, even Percy. She plans meticulously for battle strategies and such, and I’m quite the planner myself. However, at the same time, she is stubborn and recognizes her faults (hubris) and that all sums up to an extremely relatable character for me. I was so happy to read her POV in Mark of Athena. She’s brilliant.
Well then. Hopefully you enjoyed this idea, the execution, and learned a bit more about this disturbed blogger you keep reading stuff from. Looking so deeply into these characters definitely teaches me a lot about myself and how I work as a person.
What about you guys? What does your bookish DNA look like? Do we have any characters in common? Do you fall for the relatable characters or more for the aspirational characters? Let me know in the comments!
We read to know we are not alone. C.S. Lewis