It doesn't take much for me to develop a book crush on a character. Give me a few witty lines and some brooding angst, and I'm absolutely hooked. And if that character should so happen to die — here's to you, Professor Snape — I will carry a torch for them for the rest of my natural life.
Book crushes can be pretty frustrating, though, because you have a hard time explaining them to your non-reader friends. I mean, how do you talk to a person about how attractive a character is, if that person has never read the book? And if it's a character someone could only know from a blasphemous movie adaptation — I'm looking at you, Reacher — fugeddaboutit.
And, hey, let's face it: Sometimes you get a book crush on a character you know is actually pretty hideous. I studied English lit, I know Mr. Rochester is probably in his 50s, but that doesn't stop me from having a huge book crush on him. Same goes for Professor Snape. He's not supposed to be attractive, but he is, at least to me.
So, no, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you won't find Rochester or Snape on this list. These are the 15 book crushes you know were physically gorgeous. And, for the most part, they also aren't total assholes. Win-win, really.
1. April Wheeler from Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Ugh, has there ever been a character as beautiful and tragic as April Wheeler? This whimsical gazelle was unappreciated by hubby Frank, who was nowhere near as interesting as she. Can you imagine the things she could have done if she'd only gotten to Paris? She could have been a star.
2. Wild from Jazz by Toni Morisson
When I read Jazz, Wild fascinated me. I didn't care much about the man who shot his lover, but boy did I want to know more about his mother. You never learn much about Wild, including what made her the wraith-like person she is, and that's a shame.
3. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Who doesn't love Lisbeth Salander? Stieg Larsson's pierced, tattooed hacker has captured audience attentions around the world. Edgy, sexy, cool, and strong, she's everything you want your partner to be.
4. Lestat de Lioncourt from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
So help me, I love a character who's just a little bit homicidal. I always found Lestat's deliciously Machiavellian nature endearing, but it's pretty obvious that Lestat's looks were as decadent as his attitude and tastes.
5. Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Similarly decadent — and also portrayed by Stuart Townsend on film — is Oscar Wilde's most famous creation: Dorian Gray. Gray's a Faust-like figure who gets the eternal youth he wants when he wishes that the titular picture would age instead of him, but he soon becomes as corrupt as the German legend, and passes beyond redemption.
6. Tyler Durden from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Look, I know Fight Club is all sorts of problematic, but that doesn't mean Tyler Durden wasn't a dead sexy villain. He was charismatic and he didn't give any damns, so anyone who ever loved a bad boy just had to fall in book-crush love with him.
7. Fleur Delacour from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Yes, yes, a large part of Fleur Delacour's appeal comes from her Veela heritage, so I guess she's not so much hot as hypnotic, but whatever. This lovely Beauxbatons student was every Hogwarts kid's dream girlfriend.
8. Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
When a book is about its protagonist's sexual awakening, you know she's probably gorgeous. Janie Crawford's tenacity and spirit has endeared her to readers for decades, and her beauty shines through on every page of Zora Neale Hurston's novel.
9. Orlando from Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf's gender-bending title hero, Orlando, was that androgynous, Ruby Rose kind of sexy. The apparently-immortal Orlando begins life as a nobleman in Elizabethan England, only to undergo a sexual transition in adulthood. As a woman, Woolf's hero lives on for centuries, swapping clothes, roles, and lovers as she desires.
10. Jamie Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon's Outlander saga follows Claire Beauchamp as she travels back and forth in time between the 1940s and 1740s. Claire meets and marries Jamie Fraser in 18th-century Scotland, and this brawny, intelligent, virginal sweetie soon wins her heart — and ours.
11. Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
There might never have been a story of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo, but let me just say that Mercutio's death is the real tragedy of Shakespeare's play. I mean, come on, Romeo's lovable bestie only exists to make everyone else laugh. He's a flamboyant, funny man who goes to his death cracking jokes. Oh, and he might be the reason why Romeo and Juliet die, if you're the type to believe in curses. But whatevs, he's cute.
12. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
And then there's this lovable asshole. That's right, I said it: Mr. Darcy is a class-A douche for a large portion of Pride and Prejudice. His first proposal to Lizzie is insulting, his everyone-else-is-boorish act is juvenile, and no one has time for that, OK? No one. But once he comes around, Darcy's not that bad of a guy.
13. Enjolras from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Oh, Enjolras. Beautiful, angelic Enjolras. You were one of the true believers in the power of revolution to change the situation of the oppressed French underclasses. Your political passion clashed with your delicate features, and the contrast bewitched us all. We'll never forget you.
14. Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes is the most-adapted book character of all time? Yep. I don't think you can put your finger on a decade that something Sherlock-related hasn't come out. His detective skills are legendary — take a seat, Batman — and he's a hottie to boot, so obviously everyone wants to put him on the big screen.
15. Ruth Jamison from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
God bless. If there was ever a woman more level-headed and coquettish than Ruth Jamison, I'd like to meet her. Seriously, Ruth might have needed help from Idgie and the gang to get out of her relationship with Frank Bennett, but she soon grew into her own to become a strong woman. And that, folks, is dead sexy.
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