This week’s topic is “bookish characters.” This was a harder topic than it first appeared. I’ve read lots of bookstore books, books set in libraries or in universities or colleges, books about book clubs, writers and editors, but, to me none of these are automatically “bookish characters.” For example, I wouldn’t call either of the professors in David Lodge’s hilarious Changing Places “bookish” though they are scholars. It’s a job, a career to them–not a passion. I see bookishness as a passion.
The First Two–the Ones Everyone Thinks of
Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter and Jo Marsh in Little Women
Sorry fans, but neither Gilmour Girl makes my list. I didn’t like the show–especially Lorelei. Rory was ok, but a tad smug to me. Mea Culpa.
My All-Time Favorite Bookish Characters: One real, one fictional
Helene Hanff who wrote to 84 Charing Crossroads Marks and Co for all those years. And dear Frank.
Helene Hanff was the bookish, real-life, character who got me to look beyond popular authors of the ’70s. I discovered Pepys fabulous diary through her. And, she started my life-long love affair with epistolary novels, published diaries, and collections of letters. Thank you, Helene. Plus the movie of this book was so wonderful. (Did you spot Judi Dench in it? A little extra fun).
Katherine Hepburn, as Bunny Watson, in Desk Set
You just know Bunny has a Commonplace Book, as vast a home library as her little apartment can hold, and books that she treasures–many with notes stuffed in them or even, (yes, even!) comments written in them. I suspect she has a card file of reviews with ratings and errors noted. I love her. Sadly, 70+ years later, people are still trying to replace us (librarians) with computers. Sigh.
Professor Godfrey St. Peter in Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House. He is so attuned to his world of books–the world of his home “study” [room] that when his family moves to a new house he retains use of his room in the old one. I took down pages of quotes from this book in my Commonplace Book.
Cussy Mary and her adopted daughter, Honey, are both book lovers. So, too, are the many folks on their pack horse librarian routes in the back hills of Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and 1950s. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson.
Ritaro’s Grandfather loves books and is devoted to keeping them available via his bookstore. When he dies, Ritaro and his friend, must continue to save books with the help of a cat. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa is an amazing story for all ages.
Evie Stone is another type of bookish person. She saves, catalogs, and protects books and cares deeply about an author’s legacy. She promotes obscure, but deserving books. She is a fictional soulmate of mine, even if I have never enjoyed cataloging in my professional life. The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.
Ashley Wilkes is the very definition of a bookish aristocrat. He adores beauty, peace, tranquility, his library, his gardens, his art collection, his memories of his Grand Tour and all the beauty he steeped himself in while in Europe. That he owns slaves actually bothers him–he wanted to free them all when his father died. He is bookish to the ends of his very slender fingers. His wife, Melanie, is the very same. They are a very, very bookish couple. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (Be wary of cheap Kindle editions of this book).
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