Book Characters Who Read Books


WIP Wednesday is a weekly link-up for writers hosted by Happy Writer. This week’s theme is Bookworms, Reading. In classic literature, I can think of many scenes where characters are reading. One of my favorite fictional bookworms is Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, Caroline Bingley uses Elizabeth’s reading habits to take a shot at her:

“Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards. She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else.”

I love that in a Jane Austen novel so much can happen over the course of an evening in the drawing room. Some characters are engaged in a game of whist, while others are reading or taking a turn around the room. One of the reasons I love and admire Elizabeth Bennet is her intelligence. She preferred a good book over the silly games and flirtations that amused the other female characters. Elizabeth was worth a thousand Caroline Bingleys.

When I think about contemporary literature, I can’t find many examples of characters actually reading. I can think of characters who are depicted as nerds and may profess a love of books, but actual scenes where they are reading…I can’t come up with any immediately. I wonder if this is because modern day writers are told to drive the story with action. This is especially true in young adult novels, which are what I mainly write. One writing tip I have heard over and over is to “come in late and leave early.” This means the writer starts the scene when the action is already happening and leaves before the action completely winds down. This scene structure doesn’t leave much time for characters to sit around reading books.

The young adult thriller I am working on is tightly plotted, and I haven’t shown my character doing much that isn’t part of the main action. I did give her a pet, which helped me show another side to her. Now I need to start thinking about her as a reader. Does she like to read? I think she does, although she doesn’t enjoy the classic literature assigned to her in high school. Her books of choice are modern and gritty and disturbing. She’d  be reading Divergent or The Walls Around Us. Now let’s see if I can slip that into the novel somewhere…