Thanks to Barry Keoghan and his performance in Saltburn, weirdos are enjoying their time in the spotlight. Why read about Prince Charming and his heroic adventures when you can enjoy life through the eyes of a silly little guy? It’s all about the cringe factor these days, and it’s even better if the character resembles you or someone you know.
One of the things that I love most about unique characters is the way that they stick with you. They quickly burrow their way into your heart, and, whether you love or hate them, you can’t help but be drawn to how their eccentricities keep you engaged. Their approach to relationships, interacting with others, or navigating through the world is slightly off from the typical.
Who doesn’t want to root for the airhead that just so happens to hunt ghosts for a living? Or the bee that takes a chance and goes against the hive? Whatever they do, their ability to be fully and unequivocally themselves guarantees a new and exciting reading experience!
This list of books has been curated with these traits in mind — prepare to bury your face in your pillow due to secondhand embarrassment, cheer for the unlikely hero, or groan in agony at each unhinged interaction. To find them in our catalog, click on the book cover!
The Bees by Laline Paull
A member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, Flora 717, due to her courage and strength, finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum where she discovers secrets about the hive that cause her to challenge authority and perform unthinkable acts.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
Charles Yu, time travel technician, helps save people from themselves in Minor Universe 31, a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction. When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog named Ed, and using a book titled “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” as his guide, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory.
My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovic
In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, but what was meant to be a happy match goes quickly wrong. Soon thereafter her country is torn apart by war and she and her family flee. Years later, her son, Bekim, grows up a social outcast in present day Finland, not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners, but a gay man in an unaccepting society. Aside from casual hookups, his only friend is a boa constrictor whom, improbably–he is terrified of snakes–he lets roam his apartment. But during a visit to a gay bar, Bekim meets a talking cat who moves in with him and his snake.
Mosquito by Gayl Jones
First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. In Mosquito, she examines the US–Mexico border crisis through the eyes of Sojourner Nadine Jane Johnson, an African American truck driver known as Mosquito. Her journey beings after discovering a stowaway who nearly gives birth in the back of her truck, sparking her accidental and yet growing involvement in “the new underground railroad,” a sanctuary movement for Mexican immigrants.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Convenience Store Woman is the charming and unforgettable story of Tokyo sales clerk Keiko Furukura. Keiko is an unusual person, someone who has never fit in, but when she takes a job at a ‘Smile Mart’ she finally finds peace and purpose in her daily tasks. But there is huge pressure on Keiko–to pursue a career, to find a husband–and she feels forced to take desperate action in order to please the people around her instead of herself. Is there room in this ‘normal’ world for someone as strange as Keiko?
Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman
Jane Morgan is a valued member of her law firm–or was, until a prudish neighbor, binoculars poised, observes her having sex on the roof of her NYC apartment building. Police are summoned, and a punishing judge sentences her to six months of home confinement. With Jane now jobless and rootless, trapped at home, life looks bleak. Yes, her twin sister provides support and advice, but mostly of the unwelcome kind. When a doorman lets slip that Jane isn’t the only resident wearing an ankle monitor, she strikes up a friendship with fellow white-collar felon Perry Salisbury.
The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka
Aging alcholic sportswriter W. G. Karunasena embarks on a madcap search for a legendary cricket bowler during which he encounters a mysterious six-fingered coach, a Tamil Tiger warlord, and startling truths about his country.
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
Sibylla, an American-at-Oxford turned loose on London, finds herself trapped as a single mother after a misguided one-night stand. High-minded principles of child-rearing work disastrously well. He causes havoc at school and is home again in a month. Lacking male role models for a fatherless boy, Sibylla turns to endless replays of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. At eleven, inspired by his own take on the classic film, he sets out on a secret quest for the father he never knew. He’ll be punched, sliced, and threatened with retribution. He may not live to see twelve. Or he may find a real samurai and save a mother who thinks boredom a fate worse than death.
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister, Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her preschool charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: This time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?