The dim, dusty room, with the busts staring down from the tall bookcases, the cozy chairs, the globes, and, best of all, the wilderness of books in which she could wander where she liked, made the library a region of bliss to her.
—Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I am currently reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the first time. Somehow it is a book I never got around to when I was a kid even though I have seen a film version of the story. Alcott’s novel was inspired by her own youth with her sisters, and the character of Jo is based on her. As is demonstrated in the description of Jo in the quote at the top of this post, she is an avid reader, so it is no wonder that she grows up to be a writer just as Alcott did.
Reading about Jo got me to thinking about the many other fictional girls who love books. In pondering my favorites, I cannot help but feel that there is a sort of literary sisterhood of fictional and real readers who share their love of books by connecting through the very medium itself. Here are a few of my favorite fictional bibliophile friends.
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Honestly, am I the only person who’s ever bothered to read Hogwarts, A History?
Aside from being an amazing and brilliant witch, JK Rowling’s Hermione Granger is a voracious reader, and she does such awesomely bookish things like buying special homework planners for Harry and Ron when they are studying for their Ordinary Wizarding Levels (OWLs) in the fifth installment in the series. Not only do I love books, but I also love calendars and notebooks, so I quite enjoyed this nice, little moment. And let’s not forget how many times all the knowledge she gained from reading helped save the day.
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
“Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards. She is a great reader, and has no pleasure in anything else.”
Jane Austen’s heroine is a well-loved fictional book girl, and I think she would end up on many lists like this. Of course, Austen offers up a number of avid readers in her novel, so one could find a fictional friend in the pages of her other novels as well.
Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird
Until I feared I would lose it. I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
With a father like Atticus Finch, it is no wonder that Harper Lee’s Scout Finch is a reader. As demonstrated in the quote above, reading is just a natural part of Scout’s existence. Even with the older version of Scout in Go Set a Watchman, we see she is just as feisty as her younger self. With so much attention on Atticus in Watchman, I think many readers missed out on just how wonderful Scout is as an adult.
Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.
Like Little Women, I did not pick up Betty Smith’s story of Francie Nolan until recently. I cannot believe this book escaped me for so long. Despite all the hardship Francie faces growing up, books are a constant companion. Her reading ultimately leads her to pass the tests that gain her admission at the University of Michigan.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list—just a few of my favorites. Please feel free to share your favorite fictional book girls in the comments.