Reading is so great because gives us a chance to expand our minds, learn about other experiences, visit other worlds ... and fantasize about hot fictional characters. The wonderful thing about reading a book is that you can project your own fantasy on to the characters you meet; all you need is a vague description of their general hotness, and the rest is between you and your wildest dreams. No matter how dreary your Monday morning commute is — when you whip out your battered old copy of Pride and Prejudice, suddenly you're having a steamy train ride with Mr. Darcy and everything else fades away.
And sure, the film and TV adaptations do a good job. Colin Firth in a wet shirt is the stuff dreams are made of, and I will never confess to how many times I've rewatched that scene. (It's in the high double figures, and that's all you need to know.) But in the book, Mr. Darcy can be even hotter than Colin Firth. I know, I know; that doesn't seem possible — but that's the whole point. In the book, he doesn't have to fit into any humanly possible depiction of a man; your imagination is the limit.
So here are 19 of the hottest fictional characters you will ever find — and they're all from books.
1Mr. Darcy from 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Let's just start with this one, because it's a truth universally acknowledged that Mr. Darcy is the sexiest character ever to exist.
2Emma Woodhouse from 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Right from the first line, Emma Woodhouse is described as "handsome, clever, and rich." Handsome's the key word here, but I'm not gonna lie: the other adjectives definitely add to her general hotness.
3Laurie from 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott
Laurie is the ultimate boy next door. Growing up, I always dreamed about falling in love with a hot neighbor, and Little Women was a large part of the inspiration for that dream.
4Tom Riddle from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
OK, so there's the minor detail that he's the most evil person in the Wizarding World — but aside from that, Tom Riddle is kind of a babe, right?
5Shug from 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
Shug is the sexy jazz singer who finally awakens Celie's lust — and we all fall in love with her just as hard as Celie does.
6Edward/Jacob from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
It's far too dangerous to pick between this sexy pair, as they both have equally devoted fans — so they're just going to have to share this spot on the list. (For the record, I'm on #TeamJacob.)
7T'Challa from Marvel's 'Black Panther'
T'Challa is super-handsome, strong, brainy — and he's the king of a whole nation. Yum.
8Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Lisbeth Salander is the totally badass heroine that everyone's completely terrified of, but would also love to date.
9Mr. Rochester from 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte
Mr. Rochester might not be handsome, but he's brooding, rugged, and passionate — and if you forget that he's got a wife locked in the attic, he's also a very caring guy. Reader, I'd like to marry him.
10Adam from 'Shatter Me' by Tahereh Mafi
Adam has loved Juliette since they were eight years old — and he's described as alarmingly handsome with sexy tattoos. Yes, please.
11Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I've got a soft spot for all the sexy ginger Weasleys, but Bill's long ponytail and earring bump him to the top of the pile.
12Fleur Delacour from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
And of course, I couldn't mention Bill Weasley without mentioning his gorgeous wife Fleur Delacour. Boy, what a beautiful family.
13Christian Grey from 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E.L. James
Sure, he's a little controlling and creepy — but Christian Grey and his "playroom" sold record-breaking numbers of books, so I guess he is pretty hot.
14Jesse de Silva from the Mediator series by Meg Cabot
Jesse de Silva is the 19th-century ghost that haunts Suze's bedroom — and I'd be happy for him to haunt my bedroom.
15Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
Rhysand is a super hot and powerful faerie, whose seemingly aloof coldness is just a cover for his *deep feelings*. Swoon.
16Jace from The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare
Jace is another of those tough-on-the-outside-loving-on-the-inside book boyfriends that we just can't resist. On the surface, he's arrogant and rude — but when he's around Clary, he just can't keep his true emotions in check.
17Areida from 'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine
Areida's lovely lilting accent might make the girls at finishing school laugh, but it also makes her sound super-desirable — especially when paired with the descriptions of her sexy singing voice.
18Gilbert Blythe from 'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
Gilbert had a lot of growing up to do, and he deserved everything he got when Anne smashed that slate on his head — but he loved Anne devotedly throughout the rest of the series, and left many a bookworm pining over him. Oh, and he's tall and handsome.
19Helen of Troy from 'The Iliad' by Homer
Known as "the face that launched a thousand ships," as her incredible beauty sparked the decade-long Trojan War, Helen of Troy has got to be the hottest literary character of all time.