Spending much of my life with my nose in a book means I’ve gotten to know a lot of different men from the comfort of my own sweat pants. There’s the crazy rich guys, the romantic poor guys, the reliable good guys and the very, very bad boys. Luckily, when it comes to reading, I get to have them all. But if I had to pick… here’s who I’d shag, marry and kill. My picks are totally subjective and hetero-normative (taste is fickle, ain’t it?), so tell me in the comments below how you’d vote, or make up your own group of main characters and keep playing!
The Crazy Rich Guys
My mother always said, “If you marry for money, you’ll earn it.” And that certainly would be the case with any of these three. But if I had to chose…
Shag: Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
He’d be a good time, and he’d certainly wine and dine you. But he’s the kind of flame that burns bright but burns out fast.
Marry: Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A workaholic, to be sure. But at least he’d be able to support my chocoholism.
Kill: Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
He’s a loner with a heart of coal. And to top it off, he sees dead people!
Can’t buy me love? These broke guys certainly couldn’t. But their big hearts and often decades-long infatuations are worth their weights in gold.
Shag: Pedro Tercero from The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
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He’s a peasant-turned-revolutionary folk singer, which means he’s full of passion but his calling will always come first.
Marry: Pip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
We get to see Pip go all the way from a naive, idealistic child as the protagonist to a more reflective adult as the narrator. And he’s lovely every step of the way.
Kill: George Emerson from A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
There’s something a little cloying about a guy who makes a woman he’s just met his raison d’etre.
The Other Men
None of these three lover boys ever put a ring on it, but they sure were good while they lasted.
Shag: The Chinaman from The Lover by Marguerite Dugas
This is the kind of man (please excuse his outdated name) who shows you through touch all the things he’s too reserved to say with words.
Marry: Oliver Mellors from Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Intelligent, kind, strong and refusing to bow to convention, I’d see out my days on a farm with him at the drop of a hat.
Kill: Count László de Almásy from The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
There’s something super erotic about waking up a man’s sensuality as Katherine does, but that’s no excuse for his helping the Nazis.
The Commitment Types
These three men have proven themselves loyal to the core. If I could, I would keep them all. But alas, rules are rules.
Shag: Odysseus from The Odyssey by Homer
This masculine archetype would make a girl feel safe, but while his epic journey to get back to his wife is romantic, the problem is all those years he was away in the first place.
Marry: Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Even when he called her “carrots,” it was a boy’s awkward expression of love. And Gilbert waited as long as it took until Anne felt the same. Now that’s a man you can depend on.
Kill: Leland Archer from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
His loyalty to an empty marriage over true love is admirable, but a serious buzzkill, no matter how sensual that kiss on Countess Olenski’s wrist was.
Every girl goes through a bad boy phase, and if she learns anything from it, she learns not to do that again. These three would be a particularly hard lesson learned… that is if you survive.
Shag: Dracula from Dracula by Bram Stoker
Vampires are a perfect euphemism for shagging. Plus, after centuries of immortality, the Count has surely learned a few tricks. But his hours are brutal.
Marry: Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
He may be a hedonist, but you’d live the good life. And he would let you do your own thing because Lord knows he’d be doing his.
Kill: Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
He’s a stereotypical New York banker. He’s pompous, materialistic and an addict. I wouldn’t take my chances finding out whether or not he’s really a serial killer.
There’s something about a knight in shining armor that makes even the most liberated woman weak in the knees.
Shag: Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Fierce in battle and a gentle healer, he’d be impossible to resist. But he’s committed himself to the life of a Ranger making him the kind of fish you throw back in the sea when you’re done with him.
Marry: Wesley from The Princess Bride by William Goldman
A farm boy turned swashbuckling pirate who’s only got eyes for one woman and is willing to go to any lengths for her? Le sigh.
Kill: Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games
Sorry ladies, but I was always more of a Gale kind of girl. Peeta’s sweet but boring.
Misunderstood and oftentimes underappreciated, the outcast is a particularly good shoulder to lean on.
Shag: Ponyboy from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
We can’t talk about outcasts without talking about The Outsiders! For what this orphan lacks in common sense, he makes up for in chutzpah.
Marry: Oscar Wao from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This guy always gets put in the friend zone. But when it comes to spending your life with someone, looks fade, while intelligence and sense of humor last ‘til death do us part.
Kill: Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
We can all relate to Holden on some level. But every party has a pooper and that’s who Holden always is.
Size matters when it comes to the appendage between a man’s ears. But smarts don’t always add up to people skills.
Shag: Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Master of Deduction uses his seemingly bottomless well of knowledge to solve even the most unsolvable crimes, which means he’d unlock the secret to any woman’s pleasure in no time.
Marry: Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
He’s smart but approachable, and committed to both his job and doing the right thing.
Kill: Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Just to be clear we’re talking about the doctor, not the monster here. He’s got earning potential, but his job still gives me the creeps.
Oxy_gen/Shutterstock.com; modified by Abbe Wright.