Ten Favourite Character Names

I have a weird name, and when you have a weird name and you love genealogy, you get obsessed with the meanings of names. Mine has various meanings depending on translation, but can mean anything from “wished-for child” to “rebellion”. I believe names can influence who we become – my sister has a name meaning cheerful and as a child she was incredibly happy-go-lucky and full of jokes. If you’ve read The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, you’ll be familiar with the obsession with names. Here are my favourite literary character names, as prompted by Top Ten Tuesday.


1. Nastya from The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – I don’t think it says anything about it in the book, but Nastya means “resurrection”. Pretty fitting given things that become apparent virtually from the beginning. I also like the name quite a bit, even though it garners the nickname “Nasty-pants”.

2. Vattaraami from In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vadey Ratner – this fictional account based on real events just broke me into pieces. We get to know the main character as Raami, but her full name is Vattaraami (in Sanskrit) which means “small garden temple”. The part where her father explains why he named her such broke me even more.

3. Chava from The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – a golem is brought to life and is named Chava, which means “life”. I like it.

4. Alaska from Looking for Alaska by John Green – I usually dislike it when people are named after places, like India or (heavens forbid) “North”! But I liked Alaska being named Alaska, and even though I’ve never been to the state of the same name, it seemed fitting.

5. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – doesn’t the name just sound so lovely? Like a little bird chirping, “Karou, karou!”. Also, it means “hope”.

6. Tiger Lily from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – it’s such a hippie name, but I love it. Wouldn’t name my kids after her, but still love it. By the way, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson is an excellent read too.

7. Zoya from The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne – Zoya means “life” (many names mean that, it seems). It is so fitting, but you should read this incredible tale of Russia, revolution and the Romanovs yourself first.

8. Lirael from Lirael by Garth Nix – as far as I can tell this name was made up by Nix, and probably means something like “song of God”. I love the name though.

9. Pi from Life of Pi by Yann Martel – well, Pi’s full name basically means “of fish” – and I’m like, you named your kid FISH?!?! So I like the nickname, and the way he introduced his peers and teachers to it. Smart kid.

10. Lovejoy from An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden – somewhere early in the novel, poor Lovejoy is told that her mother could not possibly have loved her to have given her such a name. But I think that her name gave her strength and comfort and, yes, JOY – and heaven knows, that child needed it.


  1. What a great list. There are so many books here that I must add to my reading list, which is now actually a novel in itself! To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was a book that had a great impact on me when I was younger and I absolutely loved all the names in this book! Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout Finch, Boo Radley and Dill! How fabulous are those names? I was determined to call my son one of these names but a friend beat us to Atticus and I don’t think my husband would have let me get away with Boo! I loved Harper for a girl but then the Beckhams stole that one, and when a celebrity steals your name, you’ve had it! Fab post as usual! x

    1. I love the Mockingbird names too. I don’t know if I’d name my kid Atticus, because it strikes me as such a biiiiig name, but luckily I’m a long way from having kids. I do love the name though. Sorry you couldn’t use either Atticus or Harper though, what a bummer. And no, don’t think you’d get away with Boo 😉

  2. Pi is a great name. I remember when I first read the book in high school, I thought I might name my kid Pi. I won’t do that, but it is still a great name.

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