The Appeal of the Literary Leading Man

Superpower: knocking socks off.

John Thornton vs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Superpower: knocking socks off.

Swept off your literary feet lately? If you have, then you’re preaching to the choir.

I can’t even begin to explain  the degree of vertigo I’ve experienced from being swept off my feet by characters ranging from Mr. Thornton (North and South) to Amon Bryne (Seven Realms Series), and everyone in between. And by “in between” I’m talking, Ron Weasley, Percy Jackson, Gale Hawthorne, Atticus Finch, Thorin Oakenshield, Faramir, Jay Gatsby, Simon Lewis, Peter Pan, Edward Ferrars, Finnick Odair, Han Alistair and Robb Stark. And that’s just the shortlist.

There’s a certain appeal of reading characters that are so insurmountably different from each other, but pluck at the same heartstrings. But my question is: how!? How do they do it? There must be some shared and inherent characteristic about these fellows that leaves them so appealing on the pages.

The search for that common denominator is on! But before this scavenger hunt begins, let’s outline how a leading man differs from their other run-of-the-mill XY-chromosome counterparts.

Definition: Fictional leading man [ˈliːdɪŋ] (noun): A character, imaginary, who contributes to the development of the plot through a combination of symbolic gestures, swoon-worthy one-liners and a penchant for arriving in the nick of time. Must be relatively endearing using one or more of humor, sarcasm or punctuality. A humble disposition never hurt either.

That’s not asking for too much. A leading man who can brood, but sarcastically. Who can ramble, but endearingly. Check your realistic expectations at the door, because we don’t need any Debbie Downers raining on our bibliophilic parade.

So, here’s a list of my top 8 Fictional Leading Men, and the characteristics that make them so appealing. The aim – to find that one thing that threads them all together.

8.  Jon Snow (Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin)

  • – The Outcast 
  • – Independent and clever, despite having been placed second to his brother Robb his entire life.
  • – Loyal, but a little naive. It’s his tragic flaw.
  • – Introverted and honest. It’s nice to see a character who isn’t arrogant to the moon and back.
  • – He is challenged since infancy with not knowing who his mother is, and never belonging with the Starks. Growing up without a proper family and still turning out decently sane definitely deserves some accolades.


7. Noah Calhoun (The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks)

  • – The Patient One
  • – Has an endearing, quiet resolve.
  • – His goals are aimed high, he expects the stars and isn’t afraid of pursuing them even if failure is a risk
  • – Likes to live simply and slowly; appreciates little details
  • – Patience is his biggest virtue: with Allie, his friends and the house he builds.


6. Gale Hawthorne (Hunger Games, Susanne Collins)

  • – The Anti-Hero. 
  • – He is the anti-hero to Peeta Mellark’s blonde-haired glory. But, he put’s his feelings for Katniss aside and still treats Peeta with respect.
  • – Overlooked by others but tries to contribute to the cause of overthrowing the Capital the best he can.
  • – He isn’t anyone’s beacon or hero, despite working tirelessly with District 13 and the survivors of District 12, and he isn’t Katniss’ first pick when she must choose between him or Peeta. But, the ambition that Gale has when fighting the Capitol and his take-no-prisoners approach to solving the problem is a tribute to his quiet but threatening personality!


5.  Theodore Laurence aka “Laurie” (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott)

  • – The Confidante 
  • – Growing up amidst a group of girls can’t be a easy undertaking for any man, but Laurie is just so damn endearing.
  • – Crooked smile, penchant for adventure, love for books and learning – I don’t even know him and I still feel like I could tell him everything.


4. Amon Byrne (The Seven Realms Series, Cinda Williams Chima)

  • – The Moral One 
  • – Amon’s sturdy stoicism is one of my favorite qualities about him. He sacrifices a lot, emotionally throughout the duration of the series but his loyalty is evident. He is Raisa’s moral compass and protector, and although they don’t end up together its admirable that he places their friendship above any petty feelings he may otherwise have.


3. Tobias “Four” Eaton (Divergent, Veronica Roth)

  • – The Complicated One
  • – Tobias is layer upon layer of soft and rough edges, and that’s probably why he’s garnered such a large fan following.
  • – He risks a lot to protect Tris – deleting her simulation results, going in after Tris when he doesn’t agree with some of the choices she’s made. And let’s not forget how he beat up Drew so badly that his face resembled mashed potato, after Drew, Peter and Al attacked Tris.
  • – He’s brave, despite his fears.
  • – He can jump in and out of moving trains at will.


2. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)

  • – The Mature One
  • – He takes the moral high ground, raises his children with dignity and is so well-spoken that it could make anyone weak in the knees.
  • -Believes in equality and justice during a very corrupt period in time.
  • – The hair – immaculate.


1. John Thornton (North and South, Elisabeth Gaskell)

  • – The Equal
  • – He treats Margaret like she’s completely his equal – whether it’s during their fights or their business talks. More relatable than any typical romance is a relationship that demonstrates that two people can be hot-headed and still respectful of each other.
  • – Thornton is the refined Mr.Darcy, in my opinion.
  • – Richard Armitage plays him in the BBC version – just let that sink in.


It’s the common thread of independence in character that connects the fictional leading men into this list. I still can’t narrow it down to one specific quality that leads to the instant appeal of a literary leading man, and my preferences change with every book I read – so all I can say is that I’m looking forward to expanding this list and making my real life expectations for a leading man skyrocket exponentially.


50 Great Rory-Lorelai Exchanges From ‘Gilmore Girls’

All my inspiration to write and the beginnings of my wittiness stemmed from this show.

Perfect your inner nerd: A how-to.

I’ve never had an aversion to making a joke or two on my own behalf; better that, than having someone else beat you to it. And when your personality consists of awkward comments half the time, and hilariously misunderstood science jokes for the rest, you usually end up becoming punchline-fodder for the rest of the world around you.

What really solidifies the nerd status, however, is the level of pride I feel at brandishing my emblem of nerdiness in my conversations, through my friendships and in my work. Its quickly become a defining feature of mine, so I thought I was qualified to offer a few bits of advice to aspiring nerds out there, hoping to elevate their status from punchline-fodder to personality-emblem.

And here we go: 5 ways to perfect your inner nerd.

1. Perfect your “book browsing” stance. Head tilted to one side, feet crossed at the ankle, book held in one hand (elbow tucked in) with the other hand intelligently stroking your chin or flipping through the pages.

2. Perfect your shifty eyes. Nerds rarely are able to hold eye contact for extended periods of time (or maybe just this nerd). Therefore, perfect the shifty eyes to look more “wandering” instead of “shifty” by drawing your attention to specific objects of merit instead of spastically whizzing them back and forth.

3. Perfect your exaggerated hand motions. You may find yourself having a penchant of trying to get your point across by waving your arms, twisting your fingers and generally becoming a nuisance by how much you use hand gestures in conversations. Stop it. Reign it in. There’s a delicate balance of assigning hand motions to words and phrases and almost physically assaulting someone mid-conversation. Nerd-sophistication evolves with time, so use those hand motions as a tool for comedic genius, not for bodily harm.

4. Perfect the ratio of scientific:pop culture references. I’d say that anytime is a good time for a Darwinning joke. But … is it? Perhaps aiming for a 3:1 ratio of science to pop culture references per conversation is a good goal. That way, your nerd flag flies proud, while you still prove that you’re still worth spending time with by knowing what’s going on in other aspects of your world.

Cheat: Talk about Doctor Who – it basically falls into both categories, and talking about it for hours is SO wonderful! Same goes for any Tolkien or Sherlock references as well. 

5. Perfect your “recovery”. The “I meant to do that” just isn’t going to cut it, this day in age, after you have a terrible flub-up (falls, snorts, tripping, gaffes, verbal spewage etc). It’s inevitable that you’re going to say/do something unconventional, embarrassing or over-the-top in the near future. Perfect one or both of the following: your recovery or your exit strategy. I’d suggest the best recovery as being the “hide your face in your hands and nervously laugh” and the best exit strategy as “quickly, discretely and not into a glass wall or door”.

(Example of someone who has perfected these rules AND more: Zachary Levi)

There are so many more life-lessons I’ve picked up just over the last few years on how to climb the ladder to nerdiness – but these are tried, tested and true. Hopefully they tide you over for the time being – remember it’s not the end goal, but the journey that’s really important. Spread your wings and soar little nerds.


Pseudo-savvy: Blindfolded to brand-names.

The “brand-savvy”  are very conscious of the image they exude – it’s in the job description I believe, to be hyper-aware of how you measure up against the people around you (and to let the people around you know that you’re measuring).

I travelled to New York City recently, and on the stereotypical city tour the guides took us down to Broadway and SoHo and pointed out glamour-hyped stores that we should supposedly be dying to shop in.

“And ladies, this store’s for you! Five floors of shoes – Chanel, Loubouttin, Prada – go crazy in there!” They said.

I’m pretty sure that they knew most of us (themselves included) couldn’t afford to loiter outside one of those establishments, let alone purchase from them – but, oh man, did they talk about those places as if they were regulars. As if they had the cash lying around to casually purchase a $200 scarf and still have leftovers for some Starbucks. As if.

I might not have gone into the actual stores, but I saw in through the windows and that was good enough to give me scope to draw judgement about how much we hype up brands and brand-names.The people in the $200-scarf store still were dragging around whining children, trying to squeeze into pants that were too small and instagramming pictures of cute blouses on mannequins. But, by the way the people outside the store were ogling them you’d think they each came out having purchased an extra year of life, instead of just a shirt.

What chafes my nerves more is the adoration that these over-priced, under-valued objects get. It’s not education or health you’re paying a small fortune for ladies and gents, it’s a handbag. Congratulations. If, for every time a brand-name was admired, an educated person got accolades as well, the world would be absurdly different. I’d go as far as to to say it would be unrecognizable. Perhaps even better.

Moral of the story:

Dress well, live large, eat luxuriously – but don’t be fooled into thinking that you can only do it if brands are attached to everything you own – or, that other people are doing it better than you are because of the brands they own. Call me “pseudo-savvy”, but at the end of the day, the cucumber sold in a $15 salad appetizer from Chez-whatever is the same as the cucumber in my bagel from Tim Hortons.

What impresses me most is resourcefulness and intelligence. I wonder if Nike makes them in my size.

Downton Abbey: Top 10 Trademarks.

The wait for Downton Abbey’s third season is taking its toll on my patience. Ever since Hugh Bonneville’s amazing “Free Bates” t-shirt stunt on the PBS stage and the whopping 16 Emmy nominations, I’ve been scouring the interweb for any tidbits of info about season three. Unfortunately for my insatiable curiosity, it turns out that everyone’s taking this secrecy thing prett-ay seriously.

So, what do we know? After some serious investigative gossip-scrounging I have uncovered the following scraps of information:


Grantham admits to Cora that the family wealth has been lost. The troubles of Ireland are said to be a major plotline, spearheaded by the rebellious Tom Branson. Mary and Matthew marry, but their angst-ridden relationship continues. Edith is also set to be married, but very few details on that. And finally, a verbal sparring partner for Dowager Countess Violet arrives in the form of Cora’s quick-witted mother, Martha, played by Shirley McLean.

Not much to go on. I need a promo trailer, stat!


So, while we kill time till the season premiere, why not review a few iconic trademarks of the show we’ve grown to love and cherish from seasons past?

And, here we go, the top 10 Downton Abbey trademarks:

10. O’Brien’s afro-bangs – The Downton Abbey equivalent of Professor Quirrel’s turban. Beware: evil lurks within.

9. Mary Crawley’s, “Oh, Granny.” and accompanying eyeroll – Because exasperation must be both seen and heard.

8. Cora’s pronunciation of, “Robert” (Raw-bhURt) and “Carson” (CAHR-sun) – Because nothing says “American accent” like butchering vowel pronunciation.

7. Branson’s trousers – unfortunately, Mr.Branson’s old uniform is gone for good next season!

6. Extremely furtive glances – Never use words when twenty glances in eight random directions will do – especially when things are angst-ridden!

5. Carson’s eyebrows – Currently they’re negotiating for their own salary and contract. Man, are those things expressive!

4. Daisy’s perpetual confusion – She’s always torn between one thing or another – a true heroine!

3. Matthew Crawley’s jawline-less beauty – I am such a fan.

2. The “Thomas” pout – Maybe he’s born with it …

1.Violet’s spunky one-liners. My personal favourite:

Carlisle: I’ll be leaving in the morning, Lady Grantham. I doubt we shall meet again.

Violet: Do you promise?

And if those good ol’ memories weren’t enough to satiate your Downton craving, Jimmy Fallon’s Downton Sixbey should preoccupy you for a long while. The plot is remarkably similar (despite a few key nuances); the show follows the inner workings of the upstairs-downstairs folk involved in a well-known Late Night Talkshow family. Plenty of drama ensues, with a familiar cast of characters – take a look:

Any other iconic and note-worthy moments, trademarks or one-liners?

Lyrical Cities

City names make for the best songs!

Wandering around in a city must give an almost mythological level of inspiration! Some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard take inspiration from the individualistic events, ambiance and haunting charm that belong to the city mentioned in the song’s name.

For years, my favorite song has unwaveringly remained “Vienna” by The Fray. Take one listen to the lyrics and you’ll have a bittersweet story running rampant in your head, propelled by the words of the song.

The day’s last one-way ticket train pulls in
We smile for the casual closure capturing
There goes the downpour
There goes my fare thee well

There’s really no way to reach me
There’s really no way to reach me
There’s really no way to reach me
‘Cause I’m already gone”

Those are just the first two verses of the song, but it was enough to hook me. I’ve never been to Vienna, but I know that when I do, I’ll stand on the corner of a street and blare it to myself in my headphones – it’s bucketlist-official.

The Fray are masters of creating beautiful songs revolving around the ambiance of cities. In their new album, Scars and Stories, the song Munich and Rainy Zurich are my two favorite tracks. How they manage to make me feel like I’m walking the streets of these places simply by relating to my emotions, I’ll never understand. It’s an art.

My penchant for city-named-songs is pretty obvious at this point. Here are a couple more to listen to, if you’re interested:

  • “Rainy Zurich” – The Fray
  • “Munich” – The Fray
  • “New York” – Blind Pilot
  • “Amsterdam” – Coldplay
  • “Chicago” – Frank Sinatra
  • “Berlin” – Snow Patrol
  • “Boston” – Augustana
  • “New York” – Snow Patrol
  • “Rochester” – Matt Kearney
  • “Paris”- Kate Nash
  • “Postcards from Paris” – The Band Perry
  • “Streets of Philadelphia”- The Fray
  • “Vienna” – Billy Joel
  • “Calgary” – Bon Iver
  • “Walking in Memphis” – Marc Cohn


There are so many more! All I know is that when I plan my epic vacation excursion, I’ll use these songs as a road map and itinerary!

Any recommendations?


The Hunger Games Era

Becoming wrapped up in a book series was a feeling I’d been sorely missing during the last few months. The emotional investment you develop in the characters of a great novel is definitely the best part – even better is when you find other people who have not only read the same book, but are willing to discuss it obsessively (and compulsively) with you until the excitement wears off.

Most of my generation found that experience of kindred obsession in Harry Potter; and even when the books ended, there was still the hope of the movies to cling on to, so saying goodbye to that world wasn’t abrupt. But now, after the premiere of the final movie I was convinced that the awe-inspiring feeling of being invested of series bigger than ones’ self would be near impossible to stumble upon again.

Lightening never strikes in the same place twice, right? What were the chances of finding another hit series so soon?

I meandered through series for a while hoping that devotion would return. It really was as melodramatic as it seems. Sometimes I felt a glimmer of it, but often I couldn’t make it past the first book of a series. The Great and Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray was one that held my interest for a while; the promise of a movie made sweetened the appeal, but after three years of waiting for the motion picture, and three years of re-reading, my attention waned. So much sorrow, so much book-withdrawal!

Its one thing to enjoy a book, and its another be engrossed by it. The difference was obvious when I picked up the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

This book

This series blew my mind. It shocked my cardiovascular system back into functioning. It was fast paced, but well developed. The characters were all so flawed, but I found myself both siding with them and against them all the time.

When I anticipate the second book of a series at least 3/4 of the way into the first one, I know I’ve found a gem.

To sweeten the deal, a movie version has been placed into production, with cast and sets all lined up and at the ready. Harry Potter was a phenomenal book series, but I always found the movies sub-par, with the actors disappointing me more and more as they grew older. But the cast of this movie … I would be hard pressed to imagine people more fitting. This just adds to the excitement.

So, here’s a short synopsis to entice of anyone who hasn’t been introduced to this series, and to anyone who has, let this refresh your memory:

Katniss Everdeen, 16, lives a society that is the futuristic version of our own. The world as we know it has undergone a dystopian reincarnation . North America has been divided into 13 Districts, all controlled by the Capitol. Every year, since the new regime was established, the Capitol has devised an event called the Hunger Games to remind all people of the Districts of the control the Capitol holds over them (to prevent them from rebelling). Two children from each district compete in these annual Hunger Games, and the victor can only be crowned as the last person left alive. When Katniss is sent to compete in the games, a hidden agenda emerges for which she acts as the catalyst, and a revolution begins unlike anything she could have imagined.

The supporting characters of Peeta Mellark, Gale Hawthorne, Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy are fantastic! No one is the stereotypical hero, everyone has flaws, and that is what is most endearing. The action is phenomenally written and the suspense is palpable. All in all, this series can be publically, privately and shamelessly obsessed over.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: