By Kathryn O’Donnell
Any media marathoner like me has been there before: You’re hooked on your newest movie, television show or book, and suddenly your favorite character mentions a book. Sometimes it’s a book they’re writing, like Jane Gloriana Villanueva’s first novel from the television series Jane the Virgin, and sometimes it’s a book they’re reading, like Fillory and Further from Lev Grossman’s The Magicians book and television series. Either way, the moment you decide to pick up a copy of it yourself, it’s nowhere to be found. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you will never be able to experience those stories for yourself, especially if you’re an avid reader and watcher of television like me. As a way to commemorate these untold stories, I have made a list of books that play a role in the lives of fictional characters that we tragically, may never be able to read.
From The Fault in Our Stars: An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten
Any fan of John Green’s work has probably wondered how this one completely unfolds. An Imperial Affliction leads to the first true bonding moment between Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, the protagonists of The Fault in Our Stars, and remains as one of their strongest common interests. An Imperial Affliction follows the character of Anna, whose rare type of blood cancer relapses in the middle of the novel. The novel ends heartbreakingly in the middle of a sentence as Anna becomes too ill to continue the story, leaving Hazel Grace and Augustus with a mountain of unanswered questions.
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From New Girl: The Pepperwood Chronicles by Nick Miller
Nick Miller going through the stages of writing, self-publishing his first novel, and eventually signing a contract with a publishing company is one of the best subplots explored during New Girl. While we’re never told exactly what the plot of The Pepperwood Chronicles is, we do know that its protagonist is a “hard-boiled Chicago cop turned New Orleans detective, racing around on fan-boats, drowning that two-faced DA in a bucket of jambalaya.” With an entire transcription of the local news and a (potential) word search, The Pepperwood Chronicles sounds like the epitome of experimental fiction.
From Gilmore Girls: The Subsect by Jess Mariano
Jess might have been any book-lover’s favorite on Gilmore Girls solely because he was rarely seen without a book in his hand, but the fact that he moved to Philadelphia to work at an independent publisher and published his own short novel is just another reason to love him. While the plot of The Subsect is never revealed, I would love to have a copy in my personal library just to know what he wrote.
From Stuck in Love: I’ve Just Seen A Face by Rusty Borgens
During Stuck in Love, the character of Rusty Borgens is encouraged by his father, a veteran novelist, to journal everyday. While I’ve Just Seen A Face definitely has a romantic undertone since it was written as a way to cope with Rusty’s first break-up, it’s also praised at the end of the film by Rusty’s role model, Stephen King. King also sends it to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to be considered for publication. I may be alone, but I would love to see how Rusty turns his heartbreak into a science fiction short story. Plus, anything praised by Stephen King immediately earns a spot on my must-read list.
From Ruby Sparks: The Girlfriend by Calvin Weir-Fields
The 2012 film written by Zoe Kazan, follows a young author, Calvin Weir-Fields, struggling to find his next novel. When his therapist suggests creating a story about a character who likes his dog, Calvin dreams up the character of Ruby Sparks, who he subsequently falls in love with. Ruby becomes more life-like with every word, until she jumps off the page. When Calvin abuses his control of their relationship, he decides to release Ruby. In the end, he publishes The Girlfriend, a story about their relationship. Even though the movie focuses on their relationship, Calvin’s novel could give even more insight.
Being able to read novels from fictional stories adds another layer to the story. Comment below with any books from fictional characters you would love to read!
Kathryn O’Donnell is the Long River Review scholarship contest chair and a fiction panel reader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.