For people who really love to read, coming across a character in a book who reads is like finding a fictional soul mate. While many people are readers in real life, there’s something special about coming across an avid reader in a literary work. You instantly form an interest in that character. “They’re like me!” you might think. This common bond can make their story that much more engaging.
It’s fairly common for authors to create characters who love to read — authors are avid readers themselves, and they write what they know. Some very well known writers include bookworms in their stories, nearly always as a protagonist that you want to root for. These characters from hard-to-put-down titles can’t stop reading — and are better off for it.
Where would Harry Potter be without his whip-smart friend Hermione Granger? When Harry needed answers about how to fight a dragon or how to destroy a Horcrux, Hermione knew where to look: the library. She served as Harry’s personal researcher and helped others get valuable information from books, too. Hermione loved reading and learning so much, she used a time turner to travel in time so she could attend more classes at Hogwarts. This beloved character showed many kids the power of the written word.
Not well-loved by characters in his own world, Tyrion Lannister is adored and respected by fans of the Game of Thrones books for his wit, intelligence, and sarcasm. Throughout the series, Tyrion is shown reading in the library, and he often references texts from the Westeros canon of history and literature. His wedding gift to his nephew, King Joffrey, is a rare book on the history of Westeros’ kings. Full of spite and loathing, Joffrey destroys it with another gift — a Valyrian steel sword — symbolizing his lack of wisdom. “My mind is my weapon,” Tyrion says to Jon Snow. “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much.”
Brave, bold, and daring, Jo is the March sister most likely to stir things up. At the same time, she’s happiest when she’s reading her books in the attic, or even writing her own. She fills up her notebooks with stories and plays, and gets her inspiration from her collection of literature. One of the most devastating scenes in Little Women happens when Amy burns Jo’s book of stories because Jo wouldn’t take her to the theater. It feels like a part of Jo is destroyed with it — indeed, her character is closely tied to her love of literature. According to some literary critics and historians, Jo’s characteristics match perfectly with the personality of Louisa May Alcott herself. She may have written the character Jo based on her own life experiences — including a lifelong love of reading.
Growing up in poverty in early 20th century Brooklyn, 11-year-old Francie Nolen finds solace and escape through reading. The tragedies of her life are depicted in this heart-wrenching novel, moving from Francie’s early life all the way through her high school years. She is a strong character who is inspired to learn: when Francie’s mother only has enough money to send one of her teenaged children to high school, her mother decides to send Francie’s brother because she knows Francie will find a way to learn on her own. Her mother was right: Francie skips high school and takes college-level classes over the summer, eventually gaining entrance to the University of Michigan. Her intelligence and love of reading allow her to give herself a better life.
Author Roald Dahl introduces Matilda as “a Reader of Books” as if this is her formal title. Through her books, she learns about the world and how it works while struggling through real life. Matilda is a precocious and plucky protagonist: she plays practical jokes on her neglectful parents and other mean adults portrayed in the novel using her gift of telekinesis (a side-effect of having an overactive mind). She forms a friendship with her teacher, Miss Honey, who recognizes Matilda’s intellectual abilities and wants to see her move up to a higher class. Matilda is able to overcome her adversity with her smarts, ultimately finding a happy ending in which she can read and learn to her heart’s content.
Despereaux is a young, castle-dwelling mouse who is somewhat of an outcast among his kind. Unlike most other mice, Despereaux spends a lot of his free time reading. His favorite story is one about a knight who saves a princess and lives happily ever after. Despereaux’s love of reading and open imagination bring him on amazing adventures, which get him into trouble with the other mice. Though he experiences disappointments and trials, he still keeps his faith deep down in the happy endings of the stories he reads. His faith in books leads him to be a hero in his own right, saving a princess himself and winning new friends.