“Nerd life is so much better than regular life.” John Green
I love when I can nerd out with a fictional character. When they are nerdier than I am, it’s time to party. If we’re being completely honest, I often read books because the character in a novel or on a TV show mentions a book in passing and I want to know the reference and glean every last drop of meaning out of that literary moment.
Perhaps this resonates with you and you have your own bat cave full of favorite nerdy characters. If there are any book nerds I left off the list, let me know.
Toru from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Toru reads everything from Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann to Beneath the Wheel by Herman Hesse. I bought both of these books after my first semester teaching this novel, so I could understand the reason Murakami chose them. Toru and another character even bond over their love for The Great Gatsby.
Rory from Gilmore Girls
I never gave this show a chance until I found a pin on Pinterest that led to Rory Gilmore’s reading list and includes every book she ever read or discussed in the entire series. This made me want to know her better and so I started watching it, although I have only seen part of the first season.
Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Perhaps it’s been a little while since you’ve seen the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast. I encourage you to take a moment and delight in just how wonderful of a character and role model Belle is for young women. She loves books, so naturally, I love her. She might be the best book nerd in the history of book nerds.
Liesel from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Wait a second- this little girl barely knows how to read and she’s stealing books from rich people while the Nazis burn the rest? I want to know her. Since I’m of German descent, I’ll just pretend we’re related. This is really a heart warming story, well, as heartwarming as can be with the grim reaper narrating it.
Hazel Grace from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The paradox of Hazel Grace is that she reads and enjoys serious literature and also enjoys reality TV. These are not mutually exclusive. I suspect she is just like so many young girls reading her. Now, I will admit that when I read this, I Googled the fictional book, Imperial Affliction that propels the plot forward and takes the characters to Amsterdam. I really wanted this book to be real, but alas, it is only real in my imagination.
Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
One of Charlie’s teachers challenges him with extra reading. This moment in the text makes me happy to be an educator. Some teachers care, and they really make a difference. Goodreads has a list of books Charlie reads, if you’re interested.
Don Draper from Mad Men
When he’s not gallivanting around making every bad decision possible, he’s reading fairly insightful books that speak to the cultural moment in which Mad Men is set. Here is New York Public Library’s full list of books mentioned on Mad Men.
Here you have the sarcastic, book-loving idol of my 14 year-old self. According to Daria, society is stupid, and she’s not afraid to say it. It’s a huge critique of the anti-intellectual culture, but the greatest irony of all is that it aired on MTV every week.
Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Oh, man. The premise of this book makes me so sad. They burn books. Writing that sentence gets me teary eyed, and no, I’m not kidding. I love the spirit of rebellion for the sake of books that this novel celebrates. It also criticizes reality television years before its debut, which is a reason in itself to read this book.
Yambo from The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
At the beginning of this novel, Yambo loses his episodic memory but can remember everything he’s ever read. Right after regaining consciousness, someone asks his name, and he replies, “Call me Ishmael.” Book lovers are sure to enjoy the interesting ways Yambo’s memories align with their own memories of the characters they know and love are brought to life in interesting new ways.
Now tell me, who are your favorite book nerds from literature, television, or movies?