Is self-loathing -- or at least stark, scathing self-criticism -- a required personality trait for novelists? Well, it's certainly a useful tool for probing the depths of human possibility. Here are ten examples of bestselling novels whose characters struggle with low self-esteem.
1. "Even you, Jacob Black, cannot hate me as much as I hate myself." -- Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer
2. "I'm fifty shades of fucked-up, Anastasia." -- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
3. "If you're going to read this, don't bother. After a couple of pages, you won't want to be here. So forget it. Go away." -- Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk
4. "It was as if the master had said, 'You are ugly people.' They had looked about themselves and saw nothing to contradict the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance." -- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
5. "Photos of me when I was a kid ... well, they've started to give me a little pang or something -- not unhappiness, exactly, but some kind of quiet, deep regret. ... I keep wanting to apologize to the little guy: 'I'm sorry, I've let you down. I was the person who was supposed to look after you, but I blew it: I made wrong decisions at bad times, and I turned you into me.'" -- High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
6. "Going to another country doesn't make any difference. I've tried all that. You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There's nothing to that." -- The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
7. "I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Demian, by Hermann Hesse
8. "Being here alone with nothing to do, I've been thinking about myself too. Trying to understand why I hate myself so badly." -- Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
9. "A slight man with a gray, sunken battleship of a face, curious wet eyes, a giant gleaming forehead on which a dozen cavemen could have painted something nice, a sickle of a nose perched atop a tiny puckered mouth, and from the back, a growing bald spot whose shape perfectly replicates the great state of Ohio, with its capital city, Columbus, marked by a deep-brown mole. Slight. Slightness is my curse in every sense." -- Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart
10. "You hate me, but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself." -- Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Photograph by Anneli Rufus.