Fictive Folk with Whole Words: A Reading Project

The title, admittedly, might need some work, but I’ve had this essential premise brewing for some time now: exploring books read by your favourite television and/or film characters, who may or may not be based on characters from books themselves. Fictional men and women reading fiction (or non-fiction, too) — the thought alone opens up endless possibilities for interpretation. For instance, how much can we glean about the character of True Blood‘s Tara Thornton, when in our first glimpse of her, she’s reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and studiously ignoring an admittedly-obnoxious customer at the Super-Sav-A-Bunch?

She’s not messing around, either — that’s a hardcover.

The genesis for this idea probably began stirring with my teenaged Gilmore Girls obssession. I wanted to read everything Rory had ever read, and it secretly pleased me that, in fact, so much of her library was *my* library, too. I wouldn’t dare try to claim this as an original concept: a simple Google search for “Rory Gilmore Reads” will return several well-conceived book blog challenges and meticulously-moderated reading lists. It’s heartening, in fact, to see how we flesh and bone bibliophiles adore and support the reading habits of our fictionalized archetypes, wherever we may find them.

Rory Gilmore reads James Joyce’s Ulysses, and The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. What would hook me, back then (and even now) were the rapt looks of concentration on her face — like there was truly nowhere she’d rather be, but there with the pages and print. 

I don’t know just yet the specific form that this reading project will take, but it feels freshly promising to embark on it, in the fine company of all you Novel Nichers. Feel free to shower me with suggestions, or links to images of your favourite fictional characters cuddled up to their treasured tomes.

If you were a character in a film or episodic series, what book would you most want to be caught reading?

Links of Interest:
Tumblr: Fictional Characters Reading Books
The Reading Lists of Your Favourite Fictional Characters – Flavorwire
What’s on Rory Gilmore’s Bookshelf? – Bust Magazine
What Does Don Draper Read? – Black Book
♣ Tumblr: The Lisa Simpson Book Club
♣ 10 Fictional Bookworms And What They Imply about Real Bookworms – L.B. Gale

Jess Mariano reads Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude at a moment in the Gilmore Girls plot that’s poignantly apt. He was, admittedly, a first class bumscullion, but his earnest devotion to literature made him well-nigh irresistible. That, and Milo Ventimiglia is gorgeous.

5 thoughts on “Fictive Folk with Whole Words: A Reading Project

  1. Just when I thought you couldn’t be more likely to be a perfect figment of my desire to meet and know someone exactly like you, you write this post. Sigh! *Dances spastically to the Gilmore Girls theme song*.

    Okay, disclaimer: I’ve only just started watching Gilmore Girls this week. Yes, this exact week. It’s what I watch every night as I knit when I can’t sleep, even after I’ve really tried. It’s my insomniacal sanity saver. My dear friend Ryan LOVES this show and has been trying to get me to watch it for years. So I finally did. And I’ve been swooning over the reading habits of Rory the whole time. I have a major reading crush on her. And at the same time, I relate to her so totally. I’m reminded of myself at her age, at every age, lugging a tome around and reading at every bus stop and diner counter, under every tree on the school grounds, while waiting for the movie to start in the theatre. I haven’t changed at all, and I hope Rory never does, either.

    N. is about to make a trip to the grocer’s, and I am about to watch another episode. I wish you were here to watch it with me.

    As far as which book I’d like to be caught reading on camera as a fictional person myself, I’d have to say….Hmmm. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell would be about right. Or The Children’s Book. Either of those books would tell the right viewer ever single thing they need to know about me. Especially if I could be reading one while the other poked it’s spine conspiratorially out of my satchel.

    What do you think? If I was sitting at the diner counter or under a tree or in the back row of a movie house in the very first frame of a TVshow in which I was a character, would you wish to magick yourself fictional, climb into the screen, and join me? What book would you pack for your non-return journey?



    1. We are the dancing, rambling queens of synchronicity, I swear. I don’t lose sight of it, but happenings like this serve to clarify it for me in colours I’d not even imagined yet. Squee!

      Oh yes, Rory Gilmore is so our type, isn’t she? Our type of girl, as well as the type that we ourselves are. I love how the entire town is her reading sanctuary, don’t you? And she lugs her tomes around without a second thought, operating as she did in those arm-strengthening, pre-Kindle days!

      Which episode did you watch tonight? I am wondering if you loved it… ahh, there’s so much I want to say now that’s Gilmore Girls related, but I will keep my lips zipped, while you amble through the series at your own pace.

      (I want that precise edition of Plath’s Unabridged Journals that Rory’s glued to, and I want to read them in paper. There are some books for which e-print simply won’t do… sense?)

      You know I would join you at that diner counter, beneath that tree, and in the very last row of that movie theatre — sheepishly with popcorn in hand, and my backpack in the other. I can’t imagine how I’d stay away. Of course, I’d rest the backpack just so, artfully semi-unzippered for you to see my worn copy of Possession, nestled next to The Left Hand of Darkness. I imagine I’d be carrying Wide Sargasso Sea. ❤

      Now I'm going to 3 a.m. dream about our relationship in this TV show. What are we to each other? *drifts away on a thousand and one inked pages of suggestion*


  2. Pingback: Yuletide Books of 2012, and a 2013 Resolution « Novel Niche: A Place for Books

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