Unsurprisingly, film and television characters who are bookish tend to be my favourite ones. To me, bookishness makes heroes seem more heroic and even villains easier to relate to. Plus, there’s something about watching a programme or movie with bookish characters which makes it feel almost as good as reading a book.
Of all the bookish characters I’ve encountered on-screen, below are my current favourites:
Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls
My favourite things about Rory as a reader are:
1) That she is constantly shown reading (rather than making the audience take her bookishness for granted) and
2) That she reads a great diversity of genres; from titles one would expect an American high school student to read for class (1984 by George Orwell, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller) to high-brow titles (Don Quixote by Cervantes, Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust) to children’s fiction (Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Deenie by Judy Blume) to works of popular fiction and/or genre (multiple works by Stephen King, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown).
While Rory is a great reader and a constant one, she’s also not a book snob. As a continual fan of both “literature” and “genre fiction,” I love her for it.
Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones
I’m late to the party on this one, I know. However, I’m finally reading the copies of A Song of Ice and Fire I bought several years ago and, now that I’m well into the series, have begun to watch HBO’s Game of Thrones as well. In the novels, Tyrion Lannister’s bookishness and quick wit won me over immediately, wonderfully portrayed in the show by the talented Peter Dinklage. In the scene below Dinklage delivers what has become one of my favourite lines about the importance of reading:
Rupert Giles of Buffy
While I don’t share Giles’ technophobia, I do share his love of the smell of a good book and his sense that, when trying to solve a problem or gain lasting knowledge, books are the first place to turn. Much as I love it, I’m a firm sharer of Giles’ belief that the Internet doesn’t have everything.
Jesse Fisher of Liberal Arts
One of my favourite movies of the past few years, Liberal Arts is in many ways a love song to the reading life. In some of his earliest moments in the film, Jesse (portrayed by How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor) endears himself to the bookish viewer by becoming so engrossed in the novel he’s reading (The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy) that he doesn’t notice a fellow New Yorker absconding with his pile of clothes at the laundromat. I relate to Jesse’s complete absorption in a book, even whilst in public. While my own habit of reading anywhere and everywhere has yet to result in similar theft, the believability of the scene suggests it may only be a matter of time…
John Keating of Dead Poets Society
An essential film for any lover of literature, John Keating is the English teacher all readers pine for — someone who brings even the mustiest works to life, makes them vivid, a source of strength, emotion and fellow-feeling. Over the course of the film, Keating manages to articulate the reasons why readers read and writers write, even if he does do so mainly by borrowing the words of “Uncle Walt.”