10 Great Books About Loners and Endearing Misfits

Books about loners, endearing misfits, and underdogs have been popular over the last few years, with several wildly popular books featuring characters that might fall into these categories.

I think there are a few reasons for this trend.

Sometimes we feel like misfits or loners ourselves, and reading books about loneliness can help us understand our own feelings and give us hope.

Readers might also seek out these books to understand and empathize with people in vastly different circumstances than our own.

Whether written for adults, young adults, or a middle grade audience, all the books below feature characters who are “misfits,” “loners” or “underdogs” in different ways.

1. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

I can never resist a book about a dog, and this one promised to be quirky, sweet, and heartbreaking. It was all of those things, but I was conflicted while reading about whether it was the right book for me, mostly due to elements of magical realism throughout. Ted’s devotion to his beloved dog is touching and pet lovers especially will feel his fear and loneliness at the prospect of losing Lily to the “octopus” invading her brain. Ultimately it all came together to touch on love, loneliness, grief, and the beautiful companionship and memories we build with our pets during their short lives. Read More.
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2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This sweet book follows Don Tillman, an Australian genetics professor who decides to embark on what he calls The Wife Project to find his perfect partner. Don likely has Aspergers syndrome, and he figures his best chance of finding someone is using a scientific approach.
Along the way, he meets Rosie, a woman he quickly eliminates from The Wife Project, but who intrigues him with her search for her biological father. He quickly jumps into The Father Project in the first of many bursts of spontaneity and excitement that Rosie brings into his well-ordered life. Read More.
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3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book has similarities to the very popular A Man Called Ove. It feels like a bit of a trope now, but it’s a pleasing one: sad curmudgeon (in this case, A.J., a bookstore owner) finds his happiness when unlikely people enter his life. He continues to be curmudgeony but shows love and kindness in quirky, funny ways. What makes The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry even more relatable for readers is the bookstore setting and the way books and stories are woven into the lives of the characters: as comfort objects, discussion topics, relationship touchpoints, and contemplations on life. Read More.
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