5 Bookish Characters in Young Adult Fiction You Should Know about

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Being a bookworm never looked this cool for us, but that’s okay!

I think there’s a sort of wish fulfillment going on when we see bookworms as the stars in fiction. As someone who grew up with her nose in a book at all times, I remember feeling validated whenever I saw the bookish, nerdy heroine prevail because of her book smarts. This is contrast to stories that show her ripped from her books and made over as “popular” or otherwise more like the status quo.

Instead of being sidelined as the stock “smart” character, these books take the book-obsessed and celebrate them as they are. And if we’re reading about them in books, why wouldn’t we cheer for our fellow bibliophiles?

5. Elisabeth Scrivener – Sorcery of Thorns

The world of Sorcery of Thorns itself is an ode to bookworms. Elisabeth was left as an infant on the steps of the Great Library of Summershall, a library that houses dangerous and magical grimoires. She becomes a librarian’s apprentice and a fierce lover of books as she grows.

The thing is, the books in this story are alive.

When The Book of Eyes is turned into a monster by an unknown culprit and a murder is committed, Elisabeth is the only suspect. Can she prove her innocence?

“You like this place?”

“Of course I do, it has books in it.”

Margaret Rogerson, Sorcery of Thorns

Check out Sorcery of Thorns on Amazon.

4. David Kostyk – Grishaverse Series

David is a Grisha who first appears in Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. As a Fabrikator, he works with metals, glass, and anything solid, manipulating their forms on a molecular level with his Grisha power. He’s singularly obsessed with his work and research.

This brings me to Morozova’s journals. Ilya Morozova was one of the greatest Fabrikators, a martyr, and a Grisha pioneer who pushed the boundaries of what was possible with this power. He left behind his research notes within a stack of journals that has survived the ages.

The secret to defeating the Darkling–that is, the rumored third amplifier for Grisha power–remains undeciphered in Morozova’s journals. Even when others give up on the journals, David hauls them with him in Ruin and Rising in order to find the legendary firebird.

Readers have also hypothesized that David falls on the autism spectrum, an interpretation that I agree with. For those looking for autism rep in books, I believe his character is a casual nod to that.

“I… I don’t understand half of what goes on around me. I don’t get jokes or sunsets or poetry, but I know metal. Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising

Check out The Shadow and Bone Trilogy on Amazon.

3. Vhalla Yarl Solaris – Air Awakens Series

Although she was raised on a farm, Vhalla’s mother taught her to read. It’s this ability and her father’s efforts that allow her to get a job as a library apprentice at the Imperial Library.

When one of the prince’s lives are at stake, Vhalla commits herself to finding the cure that will save him in the stacks of the library. Only, this isn’t the prince she wanted to save.

But it’s this dark prince who sees something in Vhalla that no one else has, and it’s something their world hasn’t seen in ages.

“I was raised in a world where I had thousands of friends, each one waiting for me on a shelf every day.”

Elise Kova, Earth’s End

Check out Air Awakens on Amazon.

2. Bilbo Baggins – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Series

Bilbo has earned his place as a literary bookworm in more ways than one.

First, it’s impressive that he’s literate at all–let alone a bookish hobbit at that. Tolkien suggests in The Two Towers that many, if not most, hobbits never learn to read. In hobbit culture, this skill is placed in order of importance somewhere after cooking.

What’s more, Bilbo writes his own book, authoring his adventure to the Misty Mountain in There and Back Again. Although he certainly has his own adventure in The Hobbit, Bilbo can be read as a homebody. He’d rather work on his book than answer the door and invite his relatives inside.

All I have to say is, same.

“Books ought to have good endings.”

“I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Check out The Hobbit on Amazon.

1. Hermione Granger – Harry Potter Series

I couldn’t leave out our most bookish icon of them all–the real reason Harry and Ron survived for six years of Hogwarts plus one on the run–Hermione Granger.

Time and again, Hermione pulls the guys out of a situation with knowledge that she’s gained from pouring over library books. There are almost too many moments to pick from to illustrate my point, so I’ll pick my favorite bookish Hermione moment.

In the second book, Hermione is petrified, along with several other victims. The heir of Slytherin and the heir’s monster won’t stop until a student is dead or until Hogwarts is closed. After failing to get any real answers from Aragog, Harry and Ron are at a dead end.

But Hermione’s already solved it for them.

In her petrified hand is a page ripped from a library book–a page on the legendary basilisk creature.

Even decommissioned, Hermione saves the day with her love of books and the habit of going to the library for answers.

“I checked this out weeks ago for a bit of light reading.”

“This is light?”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001 film)

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