#ShelfLove Challenge: Fictional Friends

Shelf Love Challenge 2016Each month, the #ShelfLove Challenge has a different topic. It’s a fun idea. Most challenges involve keeping track of your books. I didn’t do the link up for last month, but I did set some reading goals for this year’s challenge.

This month’s topic:

Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend? What qualities does this character have that makes him/her the best?

This is an interesting question. After I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I’ll cop to a crush on Jamie Fraser (I think just about every woman I know—and probably most men, too—has a crush on Jamie). Fun fact: I met my husband online through one of those dating websites, and the reason I contacted him was he has red hair. It was absolutely a bonus that I fell in love with him for himself later and not for any resemblance he may have to Jamie.

I wrote some time back that after I finished reading Jude Morgan’s book Passion and watched the movie Bright Star, I developed a girl crush on Fanny Brawne. She is not, strictly speaking, a fictional character, but she is a character in two fictionalized stories about the life of John Keats. I also wrote about some other historical crushes I developed after reading about historical figures.

Of course, I’d love to say that I would be BFF’s with Elizabeth Bennet. I think a lot of people feel that way about her. I would also love to say that Anne Elliot and I would be fast friends. Same with Elinor Dashwood, though I’m probably a little more like Marianne. Still I think Marianne goes a bit off her rocker over an undeserving swine, particularly if Alan Rickman is playing Colonel Brandon.

Some time back, I wrote a post about my Top Ten Fictional Best Friends, and I think what I said in that post still holds true, especially Una Spenser from Ahab’s Wife, Morgaine (Morgan Le Fay) of The Mists of Avalon, and Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser of the Outlander. I have to say that reading Ahab’s Wife made me really actually want to know Una Spenser. She is more than a match for old Captain Ahab, and I just loved the way the book wove her story together with that of her more famous husband. And the opening line of that book is memorable: “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.” Actually, same with Morgaine in The Mists of Avalon. Talk about turning conventional wisdom about a legendary character on its head. She’s heartbreaking in her love for Lancelot, and Arthur is a bit heartbreaking, to be honest, in his love for Morgaine. If you have watched the Outlander series on Starz, you totally get why Claire gets a spot on this list. She’s amazing. We all need a friend like her. She knows simply everything about healing and herbalism. She’s the kind of lady I’d like to invite over to make soap with me.

A short check-in on how I’m doing with the #ShelfLove Challenge—so far, so good. I elected to try to read between 11-20 books that were already on my shelves (either my physical shelves or my Kindle or Audible library) before January 1, 2016, and so far, of the six books I’ve read up to this point, four of them have been #ShelfLove books. I’m finding that the challenge is motivating me to clear out my TBR backlist and get some books I’ve purchased read (finally).

Ten Fictional Best Friends

Holding hands

Iliana posted her list of ten fictional best friends, and I just love memes like this, so I had to participate, too.

  1. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series: The boy wizard from the eponymous series captured my heart about nine years ago, and hasn’t let go. I’m widely known among family, friends, and co-workers to be the biggest Harry Potter fan they know. What I like about Harry is that he has had a great deal of responsibility thrust upon him, and even though he’s not perfect, he does the right thing. He learns kindness and the value of true friendship (witness how he changes regarding wanting to be seen with Neville and Luna from book 5 to book 6).
  2. Una Spenser from Ahab’s Wife: I think she’s one of the coolest women I’ve ever met in a book, and I’d like to be like her when I grow up. She makes difficult choices, and she lives with the consequences. She’s warm and passionate. She loves life.
  3. Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility: Elinor is so wise and sensible. She is kind to everyone and puts others’ feelings before her own. She would be the most loyal friend one could ever have.
  4. Anne Elliot of Persuasion: Anne is a little shy, and she doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone. She is true to her friend Mrs. Smith, even when her family thinks the woman is beneath her. She’s smart and frugal. No one in her family listens to her, but others see her value.
  5. Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice: Who couldn’t be in love with Lizzie Bennet? And if it seems to be cheating to pick three Austen heroines for best friends, I say in my defense that these books are my literary comfort food and make me feel good about the world, and therefore why shouldn’t they contain more of my literary friends than other books? She’s spirited. She loves her sister so much that she stands up to those she feels have slighted Jane. She cares for her family. She wants to marry for love.
  6. Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser of the Outlander series: If you’ve read this series, then you know Claire is the gal who made it acceptable and even desirable to have a FWA. And you know what I’m talking about if you’ve read the books. She is intelligent, passionate, and extremely cool. I would definitely want to have her help in a bar fight (not that I’d ever get near one, but I digress).
  7. Scout Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird: Who couldn’t fall in love with Scout’s voice? She calls things like they are. She loves and admires her incredible father. She befriends Dill, who is the kind of kid one can easily imagined being slighted on the playground, and she looks up to her wise elder brother Jem. She is also the one to connect to Boo and bring him out of his exile in his house. She’s a great kid.
  8. Morgaine (Morgan Le Fay) of The Mists of Avalon:  She’s not evil, as we learn in this book—just misunderstood. She wants what is best for her brother and his country, and she winds up a pawn in the game so many others seem to be playing. But she’s intelligent and powerful and ultimately much more sympathetic than the Arthurian characters we traditionally view as “good.”
  9. Meggie Cleary of The Thorn Birds: She has a difficult life and chooses a difficult path for herself. She is, by the end of the novel, a pretty tough broad. Maybe too tough. But she loves completely and unreservedly.
  10. Davey Wexler of Tiger Eyes: I can’t remember how many times I read this book. I know I wore out my copy. Davey lived through a traumatic experience. She is brave and intelligent. She is a good friend.

Honorable mentions go to Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings, Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories, Christabel La Motte from Possession, and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, although she’d probably hate me if she knew me in real life.

So like Iliana, I invite you tell us who your best fictional friends are.

photo credit: Valerie Everett