Common wisdom dictates that, in order to make a geek sexy, all you have to do is remove their glasses and let down their hair. But I say that geeks already are sexy. Don’t ditch the glasses, and keep the book where we can see it. To celebrate our favorite species of nerd, here are some of the best distractible book lovers in pop culture:
Kilgore Trout (Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, etc.). I don’t know how much reading Trout does, but he’s certainly a nerd for the writing of books. He wrote hundreds of works of science fiction, sometimes allegorical, often bizarre, always underappreciated. His tantalizing titles, including The Pan-Galactic Straw Boss, Bunker Bingo Party, and Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension, frequently served as porn mag filler, but at least he had a fan in Billy Pilgrim.
Comic Book Guy (The Simpsons). Though CBG would likely be unimpressed with his inclusion on this list (“Worst. Listicle. Ever”), we can’t help but love him. A graphic novel acolyte with a taste for the rare and obscure, he’s a connoisseur in a world of dilettantes.
Belle (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast). She’s unique among the elite coterie of Disney “princesses” in that she was seduced not by the size of his fortune, his ship, or his pecs (hi, Aladdin), but by the size of his library. This beautiful bookworm was primed for finding love in strange places by her tendency to lose her head in literature.
Encyclopaedia Brown (Encyclopedia Brown). This cold-blooded smartypants occasionally tipped his hand, vis-a-vis his crush on Sally Kimball, but mainly he was a man on a single-minded mission: to bring his level-headed deduction skills to bear on the many mysteries of his seemingly quiet neighborhood—which, judging by Encyclopedia’s thriving gumshoe service, was a step away from Twin Peaks. I can’t remember him reading all that much, but with a nickname like that, he had to make the list.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter). The adorable geek that so many of us grew up with is loud and proud about her nerdiness. She just can’t help being the smartest girl in the library—even if it doesn’t always help her win friends and influence people. There’s nobody we’d rather have by our side when facing off against bullies, O.W.L.’s, or the Dark Lord himself.
Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief). On the day she buries her only brother, and just before leaving her mother forever, Liesel steals her first book: The Grave Digger’s Handbook. A young German on the eve of World War II, she can’t yet read it, but slowly learns with the help of her foster father. Her love of words catches the attention of Death himself, who has all too many opportunities to spy on her as the war escalates, and violence advances into every corner of Germany.