Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to share our love of books and lists with our bookish friends. I tackled favourite lovers a couple of years ago and it gave me toothache, so today I’m focusing on another sort of romantic: book lovers.
Yes, I’m a sucker for stories where the main character is a bookworm. Heck, you can win me over to your romantic subplot by having one character teach another to read and write. And it’s not that day of ridiculous Victorian commercialised nonsense today (can you tell I’m not big on Valentine’s Day? All power to those who love it; I’m just a grouch and I don’t get it. But then we celebrate our love on Friday the Thirteenth – yes, every Friday the 13th – so we have adopted our own random romantic tradition) so I have no qualms whatsoever about subverting this week’s topic with one I’m more passionate about.
Amalia Cornaro – The Tethered Mage
Amalia is as bookish as they come: a highborn academic, who we meet sneaking around the wrong part of town to lay her hands on a book that she just really needs (sound familiar?). It’s a great introduction to a brilliant character and a fascinating world. And of course it got me on her side from the start.
Jean Tannen – The Lies of Locke Lamora
Every gang needs muscle; and Jean Tannen is a thick-set hunk of whoop-ass. But he’s no thug: he’s got a sharp mind, a loyal heart and a love for romantic dramas. He’s a stabby cinnamon roll, okay? When he met a woman who is his match in every way, my heart exploded. Of course I adore him.
Nina Beaulieu – The Beautiful Ones
A romantic fantasy of manners is all the better for having a heroine who loves books. Thanks, Jane Austen. Poor Nina has set her expectations with romance novels rather than real world examples of love and marriage, which guarantees a troubled heart. This is totally not my sort of read, but I loved it – and Nina herself, who is a delight.
Samwell Tarly – A Game of Thrones
In a world where (can you even read that without hearing a ridiculous Hollywood voice-over?) might typically makes right, Sam is too fat, too cowardly and too clever to make friends. Oh look, another cinnamon roll! He finds his courage under pressure, but it’s his love of books and thirst for knowledge that will make Sam a hero, I’m sure of it.
Kirsten Raymonde – Station Eleven
A different sort of book love: twenty years after the world ended, Kirsten’s prize possessions are her Dr Eleven graphic novels. I loved Station Eleven, but I particularly liked how much revolved around those two books and how influential the love of them could be.
Azar Nafisi – Reading Lolita in Tehran
Azar Nafisi and her students took enormous risks to pursue their love of western literature, gathering secretly at her house to discard their veils and discuss the banned works of Nabokov, Austen, Henry James and others. A thought-provoking memoir of life as a bookworm under a repressive regime, and a story of resistance.
Mori – Among Others
Mori’s twin is dead, her mother is an evil witch, and she’s been sent to an English boarding school. A disabled outsider, she’s lonely for the first time in her life, but she takes solace in works of classic science fiction. Spiky, determined, geeky – of course she won my heart.
HM The Queen – An Uncommon Reader
I’m quite sure the Queen does read (and I’d be curious to know what books catch her fancy), but Alan Bennett’s little gem has her love of books turning royal protocol upside down. This is a mischievous, entertaining farce, giving us the bookish royal person we deserve.
Temeraire – His Majesty’s Dragon
Books aren’t really made to be handled by dragons, but Temeraire would read if he could. Instead, he persuades his beloved Laurence to read to him – and the image of a man reading to a dragon each evening is more than enough to melt my heart.
Katherine Talbert – The Privilege of the Sword
Fantasies of manners and heroines reading romance novels – yes, it’s a trope, no, I don’t care. Katherine Talbert isn’t defying convention by wearing trousers and learning the sword because her reading has led her astray. But once you’ve gone that far, you might as well embrace breaking the rules and aspire to be a romantic hero, right? Yes, please.
On an unrelated note, in addition to being the patron saint of selling cards and overpriced rose to one-day romantics, St Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, plague(!) and not fainting. I had no idea patronage worked quite like that, but I’m delighted to confirm there’s a patron saint against toothache too (Saint Apollonia). I’ll keep a note of that for next year.