Let’s talk literary crushes, people! We all have them, and they run the gamut. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Well, okay, I’ll show you mine regardless. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Fitzwilliam Darcy, The (Reluctant) Gentleman
In Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, Darcy starts off a bit rough around the edges. He makes a snap judgment about the Bennet family. He snubs Lizzie and is even downright rude to her at the ball. He even tries to keep Jane and Bingley apart. The horror!
Simply put, Darcy is kind of a tool at the beginning of the book. However, he realizes his mistakes, owns up to them, and apologizes to Lizzie. Pretty admirable, right? It’s not easy to admit when you’re in the wrong. Then, Darcy goes a step further and saves the Bennets from scandal by tracking down Wickham and Lydia after they run away together. He pays off Wickham’s considerable debts and bribes Wickham to marry Lydia. None of that had anything to do with Darcy, but he did those things to save the family of the woman he loved from possible social ostracization. He didn’t expect anything from Lizzie in return, either.
Darcy is, I think, the most idolized fictional crush. He’s very near the top of the list, at any rate. I haven’t read my Official Handbook For Girls* in quite a while, but I believe it explicitly states that a Darcy Crush is mandatory. The Darcy Crush doesn’t have to last a lifetime, though in most cases, it does. The Darcy Crush can be brief and fleeting, but it seems to be inescapable for most human females.
*The Official Handbook For Girls is not real. I made it up. It doesn’t exist. Yet. 😉
2. Daniel Bae, The (Too Good To Be True) Romantic
If you have not read The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy. It’s a great love story, and Daniel Bae is entirely swoon-worthy! He’s a poet who believes in true love. It gives me hope for my daughters that there actually are guys out there like him. On the streets of New York City, he spots Natasha and something inside him tells him that he needs to know her. He starts to follow her (in a non-creepy way) and meets her when he saves her from getting hit by a speeding car. Daniel convinces the cynical Natasha to spend the day with him, and he bets her that he can get her to fall in love with him. Natasha is already a non-believer in love, but for one serious reason of her own, she knows there’s no point in falling in love with Daniel or anyone else.
You can probably guess what happens. But the book doesn’t end quite how you might think.
Daniel is young, but he knows what he wants and doesn’t want. He fights for them if necessary. And really, he’s a nice guy. That’s a rare thing these days. Let’s face it, for the most part, people suck. Not all people, but a great many of them. Daniel Bae is a good guy, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
3. Ponyboy Curtis, The (Good) Guy From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks
Ah, Ponyboy Curtis. My very first literary crush. In sixth grade, my class read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and Ponyboy set my little eleven-year-old heart aflutter. Yes, he’s a “greaser,” but he’s not a criminal. He reads a lot, gets good grades, watches sunsets, and stays out of trouble.
When his best friend, Johnny, kills a “soc” (rich kid) in self-defense for nearly killing Ponyboy, the two skip town to keep Johnny from going to jail. Ponyboy didn’t have to run, but he did, and not out of guilt, but mainly so that his best friend wouldn’t be alone.
Since Ponyboy lost his parents in a car crash, all he has left are his two older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, and his “gang,” whom he also considers family. So he does whatever he needs to and can for his family, including going on the run with Johnny. But because he’s a greaser, society at large dismisses Ponyboy as nothing more than a criminal, but if you’ve read the book, you know he’s much more than that. Ponyboy is a hero.
Stay gold, Ponyboy.
4. Augustus Waters, The Upbeat (But Doomed) Guy
Despite having cancer and already having lost a leg to his disease, Augustus, the male protagonist in John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, somehow manages to stay positive. He gets off on his grandioseness, actually. Augustus knows that eventually, his cancer will kill him, so he wants to live large and leave his mark on the world in a big way. He’s funny, confident, charming, and handsome. When Augustus and Hazel Grace (the main character and fellow cancer patient) meet in a support group, we can practically see the sparks fly. It takes them both by surprise.
But as the book goes on, we learn that this version of Augustus is a facade. When his cancer returns, Augustus “Gus” faces his reality. He’s just a kid, a former standout athlete who was dealt a sucky hand in life, that it’s okay to be scared, and that he will die without having left a big legacy. But because of his relationship with Hazel Grace, he learns that he doesn’t need to leave a legacy and make his mark on the world. Gus has experienced true love and comes to understand that the love you share with another person is the most important mark anyone can leave.
And I’m not crying. You are. 😥
5. Joe Goldberg, The (Very, Very) Bad Boy
I know, I know. I’m not sure what it says about me that Joe Goldberg has made my list of literary crushes, but let me try to explain.
In the beginning of You by Caroline Kepnes, I thought Joe was just a quiet, New York City bookseller. By the time I learned what he really is, I’d already been completely sucked in by his charm. He seemed so harmless! If there was ever a good example of “don’t judge a book by its cover, Joe is it.
MFA student Guinevere Beck (or “Beck” as she’s called throughout the book) walks into Joe’s bookshop one day, and he’s instantly captivated by her. She pays for her books with a credit card, and her name is all Joe needs to set off on a dark path.
And it doesn’t take Joe long to show his true colors. He’s a creepy stalker. That is bad enough, but then Joe takes it to the next level and gets all murder-y. Yet somehow, Kepnes managed to make Joe likable, despite his penchant for locking people in cages and resorting to murder to keep Beck all to himself. Right along with Beck, I too found myself falling for Joe even though the logical part of my brain was screaming, “What the hell?” And I’m not the only one. Many, many fans of the book and the Netflix series are in the same boat as me, which makes me feel like less of a deviant.
So you know what? Scratch what I said earlier. I can’t fully explain why I crush on Joe when I know I shouldn’t. Except to say that falling for a bad guy, real or fictional, happens to every girl somewhere along the way. It’s inevitable. And believe me, that fact is most definitely in the aforementioned Handbook. In bold print. Another explanation is that it’s just damn good writing on Kepnes’ part! I think the book needs to be read to really understand what I mean.
So, there you have it. My literary crushes. It’s a list that I add to when I come across a great male character. I can’t wait to see who I’ll add next! Who are some of your literary crushes? Leave a comment and chime in!