The Grittiest Characters in Literature


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In literature, there are characters who astound. Characters who are so full of sheer grit, determination, drive and chutzpah that they don’t let anything—even the most dire of circumstances—stand in their way. And reading about how these characters react in the face of adversity gives us a shot of bravery from afar.  They never waver, even through trials and tribulations, and we, in turn, are inspired by their fearlessness and courage.

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, co-authors of the recently released book Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary know a thing or two about being gritty. They were both raised in the Bronx, with no money or connections. But through hard work and perseverance, they rose to the top of the advertising world, as CEO and president, respectively, of the Kaplan Thaler Group and Publicis USA, creating world-famous advertising campaigns. In their meetings with executives from around the world, they have seen firsthand the power of grit in helping women and men advance in their careers. In Grit to Great, they offer a rich narrative from the front lines of business on the impact determination, hard work, and focused attention have on getting ahead, whether you are an entry-level new hire or a seasoned veteran eager to advance your career.

Here, they share with us fourteen books with the grittiest characters in literature and how we can learn from each of them.


Who are your favorite gritty characters in literature?


Bookshelf curated by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, authors of Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary, out now.










LINDA KAPLAN THALER is the cofounder and CEO of the Kaplan Thaler Group, and well as the CEO of Publicis USA. She started her career working at J. Walter Thompson under CEO James Patterson, who went on to become a world famous novelist. She is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Power of Nice, as well as The Power of Small. She lives with her family in New York City. ROBIN KOVAL cofounded the Kaplan Thaler Group and is now CEO of Legacy, the nation’s largest public-health foundation devoted to preventing young people from smoking and helping smokers quit. She is the coauthor of The Power of Nice and The Power of Small. She lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.



Featured Image by Kim Wilson/
Linda Kaplan Thaler author photo: Amy Postle, Robin Koval author photo: Adam Auel of Adam Auel Photography.


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