We’ve all read books that we find entrancing. From a dystopia like The Hunger Games, to a romance like Jane Erye, to anything by Stephen King. And in every book, there’s a character that pulls at the heartstrings a little more than the others. These are usually the ones fan’s become obsessed with: continually drawing the fictional person and themselves, talking about how attractive they are (though no picture has been provided), imaging what would happen if they met them. You know, stalker fan girl/fan boy stuff.

I myself am known to be “devoted” to certain characters when a new book in my favorite series comes out.

I would say that in moderation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving a fictional character. However, when you change your last name and have rooms in the house dedicated to someone who doesn’t exist…well, let’s not get into that.

The reason for this post isn’t to talk about wanting to meet fictional characters from your favorite book. It’s WHY we want to. What drives us to truly care about someone who isn’t real when there are plenty of living breathing people around us?

Naturally there are many reasons. I think a big one is that books explore people’s flaws and imperfections, showing who they really are. These characters are exposed to us as readers through other characters, so we can see all their sides by being an observer. In real life, we are the ones who are involved in the flaws and mistakes. We don’t see anything coming. We get hurt, and as humans with emotions, we don’t like that. In stories, we can see an inevitable betrayal coming. In life, we’re completely blindsided. We sometimes don’t see all sides of someone until years later. In books, it only takes a few days to learn who a character really is. We like knowing who people are; it’s comforting. That’s why we love book characters: their personalities are so set in and direct that, although they are flawed, we know exactly who they are.

Another reason these fictional characters are loved is because they’ll never leave you. Reading a book, you have the story in your mind forever, and you can always return to it. Over time, the characters and plot points remain the same while real life is constantly changing. These characters won’t stab you in the back, take your job, cheat on you, break your heart, hate your guts. They will always be exactly the same as when you left them. Plenty of people have read the Harry Potter series dozens of times (though I have yet to read it once…), and I myself have books whose spines have gone limp from being read over and over. We read these because when we feel bad or are going through a big change in life, these stories and characters are a constant. They’re always there to help us and give us an escape that isn’t too risky or too boring. We love these characters because we know their story, how they came to be, and we develop this sort of faux one-sided trust, thinking “if only they were real” could I have someone who would get my story. And because all books and series eventually end, we’re left with seeing most of our favorites on a high note, and we have that happy image of these loved “people” in our minds forever.

Yes, they’re fictional and don’t really exist. Yes, there are millions of fan forums dedicated to them. But having these much loved book characters gives us hope, reminding us we aren’t alone when times get rough (and friends just can’t be found). As long as people don’t try to become these characters or have a “real” relationship them which causes them to change their entire life, a little support from an unreal source can do a person a great deal of good.

Of course, this is only my opinion. I want to hear what you guys think. Leave me a comment letting me know why you think book characters are loved!

Peace, love, and a whole lot of chocolate.

-A

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