Booking Through Thursday: It’s Personal

Booking Through ThursdayBooking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. Here is this week’s question:

Do you have a preference between “person” in the books you read? Do you prefer third-person to first-person? Or don’t you care? And … why??

My preferences tend to change according to the genre but I am not a fan of 2nd person – it is just too awkward and an entire story using ‘you’ doesn’t work for me. My brain is pretty much mush at the moment as I’ve had a really long day so I’m afraid I can only muster up a few examples for each style. Can you think of any other great books?

1st person narrator
Advantages – I get to know the character intimately

Disadvantages – we have to trust that the narrator is telling us the truth and they can be unreliable

Favourite novels using this style – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the Peter Grant series

3rd person omniscient
Advantages – I see it all and nothing can hide from me bwahaha!

Disadvantages – it is harder to connect with individual characters and you often have to deal with info-dumping simply because the author wants to show off everything shiny in their world

Favourite novels using this style – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and anything by Jane Austen (even though she cheats at times and changes pov)

3rd person limited
Advantages – the author isn’t limited to just one character so can extend their characters’ perceptions of the world

Disadvantages – if it is poorly done then there is quite often head-hopping. You also have to hope that the author has made the characters’ voices distinct

Favourite novels using this style – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (yes I know there is a little bit where the perspective changes but I’m going with the majority),

Alternating 1st person
Advantages – works really well for romances especially where the hero can’t outwardly express his emotions

Disadvantages – it takes away some of the surprise in the romance as you know a HEA is on the cards before the characters do. If one voice comes across as unauthentic, it can make for a very uneven book.

Favourite novels using this style – I can think of quite a few novels that use this but none off the top of my head that are brilliant, almost flawless examples.

Epistolary style novels (subsection of alternating 1st person)
Advantages – often newspaper clippings etc are included so we get to see what society is thinking along with the characters’ point of view and this adds verisimilitude

Disadvantages – we only know as much about the characters as they choose to put in a letter and some things just don’t translate well in this form. This style has gone out of fashion as we can now have instantaneous communication through the wonders of technology

Favourite novels using this style – Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson

8 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: It’s Personal

    • It doesn’t get much love outside the choose your own adventure books. I imagine it would be really hard to write without the text coming across as stilted.

  1. I’ve read a couple books that used second person at times (with varying effectiveness), but I don’t think I could read an entire book of it.

    One recent epistolary novel I really enjoyed was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I didn’t think it would be my kind of book but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

    • I read that a little while ago too. It was picked for a book club I was involved in. I’m actually a little ashamed I hadn’t remembered it. They’re filming an adaptation of it this year I think.

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