What Books Have You Read With The Most Likeable Protagonists?
Posted on 12th of September, 2018


This is an interesting question because I have without a doubt seen a shift towards protagonists who are not as likeable. To me it looks like modern authors are scared of creating protagonists who are too nice because, for some reason, it is something that took quite a bashing from readers and critics. Call me old fashioned, but I like a protagonist who I can root for and the current crop of angsty, brooding characters with their dark secrets and chequered pasts doesn't quite do it for me. I want a character who I look forward to spending my precious reading time with, not one who is going to constantly annoy me with their bad attitudes and constant griping. It is quite a sad state of affairs that a lot of authors, especially women it seems, are purposeful writing protagonists who are downright unlikeable because they think it will make readers take their work more seriously. There are a lot of books that I could list that all have very likeable characters, but for my favorite I think I am going to go with the Helen Fielding novel, Bridget Jones's Diary. As a protagonist Bridget is not perfect and the book is written in the form of her diary, so we get to know her with all her flaws, but despite all of this she is still a very likeable character. One of the reasons why I think she is so likeable is that myself and many others can see a lot of ourselves in the problems she had to face.
I thought that I would have a list of books with characters I like that is as long as my arm, but when I tried to pen them I realized that most of them were not the protagonist, but actually other characters. I have managed to narrow it down to these books in the end:

1. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling). - To be completely honest I like Hermione just as much as Harry, but ultimately the books are about him and he really is a likeable character. It is also the kind of likeable that is tinged with a hint of jealousy as I never received my invitation to Hogwarts.

2. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins). - I love the way how Katniss stepped up to protect her little sister in the books and how she eventually rose up from being just another inhabitant of the poorest district in Panem to becoming a pivotal character in overthrowing the Capitol. Katniss is the kind of character that I would like to be or at least like to have as a friend because I know she'd always have my back.

3. Arya Star from A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin). - Since the Song of Ice and Fire series has such a large cast of characters I don't think it would be much of a stretch to include Arya as a protagonist. Large portions of the story is told from her point of view and it's impossible not to root for her. Fate has led her down a very dark path, but despite all the hardship and horror she has to endure she has always remained a very likeable character. Incidentally, the books also feature another very likeable character who is a favorite of mine, Daenerys Targaryen.

4. Beatrice Prior from The Divergent series (Veronica Roth). Tris is the protagonist for most of the books in the Divergent series and I found her to be a very likeable character. Sure, she's got the whole "chosen one" deal going on that is so prevalent in young adult books, but she is also a pretty cool person despite all the pressure on her.
I don't know if this is bending the rules a little bit, but I would have to say that Sancho Panza from Don Quixote is the character I find the most likeable. I know that Quixote is the protagonist, but Sancho is his squire, so in my opinion that would make them an inseparable duo. Besides, Quixote is just plain crazy while poor Sancho is the one who has to deal with all the consequences and he does so marvelously.
It takes a very brave author to write a book with a protagonist who is unlikeable, so I think most of them try their best to come up with a character they think everyone will love. Certain authors are obviously better than others in this department and tastes differ making it hard to create "perfect" characters. A character that one reader may find endearing could be annoying to many authors. One only has to look at the Fifty Shades trilogy by E. L. James or the Twilight books from Stephenie Meyer to see how polarizing characters in literature can be. I'll be honest and say that I find many of the protagonists in contemporary books to feel a little too perfect to be really likeable. Authors like Mark Twain still did it best with characters like Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck was definitely not a little angel, but he felt like a genuine character, which made him all the more likeable. Other books that I consider to have likeable protagonists are the James Bond ones by Ian Flemming and the Sherlock Holmes ones by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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