Sometimes you don’t just love a book; you worship it. And sometimes you don’t just like a character in that book; you want to marry them. Whether they’re broody and intense or sweet and sensitive, there’s just something about this guy or gal that you can’t get enough of. You comb the pages for mentions of their name, linger on your favorite passages, and, uh, imagine that you’re the one making out with them during love scenes.
Luckily, there’s a phrase for these kind of obsessive reading-crushes. Book boyfriends (or girlfriends!). These are the characters you would die to meet in real life, the people you can actually imagine yourself falling in love with—if only they didn’t exist solely in the pages of a book.
As a voracious reader who’s spent years and years hanging out in libraries, I have plenty of book boyfriends. But here are the five I’m officially head over heels for:
Fitzwilliam Darcy: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mr. Darcy is the original book boyfriend. Broody, smoldering, and oh–so-proper, there’s a reason Darcy has become synonymous with the perfect male romantic hero. He was the first character I ever truly fell for, both in books and on the screen (hellooooo, Colin Firth!). There’s just something about the way he hides his emotions that makes you want to tear that waistcoat right off his chest. Ahem. Regardless, Darcy will always be just the right mix of mysterious and sincere.
Adam Wilde: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
If I Stay is pretty tragic: Mia gets into a horrible car crash that kills all of her family, leaving her in a coma and with a choice—she can either wake up and live without them, or choose to die. I won’t spoil it, but a huge part of her decision rests on her boyfriend Adam who is basically the best boyfriend in the world. He’s the hot, sensitive singer of a rock band and he rules the local indie music scene. Mia is a classically trained musician, but their differences only attract Adam more. He’s the too-cool guy who picked her out of the crowd and never stopped loving her. When she’s hurt, he rushes to her side, begs her to stay with him, and stays devoted to her for years after. He even inspired his own little campaign called Team Adam, where his name has become a metaphor for men who treat women with respect. What more could you possibly want in a book boyfriend?
Rath Roiben Rye: Tithe by Holly Black
Roiben is one of those damaged heroes who shouldn’t be hot or even sane, but still somehow manages to make you fall for him. He’s a faerie warrior, tasked with serving various fae queens. Under Nicnevin’s rule, he’s forced to torture and kill his fellow fae, doing unspeakable things in her name. But while his past has made him hard and untrusting, he never stops being a hero. When Kay stumbles into the fae world, he does everything he can to protect her from its casual cruelty. He starts to open up more and more, and each little glimpse into his soul is like a tiny treasure. He’s the book boyfriend you want to save, the one who’s ridiculously sexy in his constant resilience.
Alexander Barrington: The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons
The Bronze Horseman, about Tatiana, a young girl in Russia at the start of WWII, is my favorite novel. And trust me—for a crazy book lover, that’s not an easy declaration to make. But this is the book I would bring with me on a desert island, the one I read every year just because I have to. A huge part of that love is because of Alex, the soldier who falls in love at first sight with Tatiana, only to discover he’s already dating her sister. Alex is smart and a survivor, an American hiding in communist Russia and desperate to make it home. He’s also completely devoted to Tatiana, giving up his life for hers on more than one occasion. When she starts to starve to death in the siege of Leningrad, he does everything he can to keep her alive, despite the fact that she keeps pushing him away. They have one of the most epic love stories I’ve ever read, and despite his flaws (or maybe even because of them) Alex is my ultimate book boyfriend.
James Fraser: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Jamie is a kilt-wearing Scott, unusually tall for the 1700s, handsome, built, and a rare redheaded hero. Oh, and he can fight! He’s also great at debating, diplomatic and crazy in love with his wife Claire. Swoon! He sounds a little too good to be true, but he’s not without his faults: stubborn, jealous, always finding himself in the middle of wars. Thanks to Gabaldon’s detailed writing, Jamie feels more realistic than some of my closest friends. And after spending eight massive books with him, I’m completely devoted. I love his relationship with Claire, but if I ever met them in real life, I might just have to fight her for him.
Who are your book boyfriends? Let us know in the comments!