13 Halloween Costumes Inspired by Books

This Halloween is an opportunity to prove that not only are you a clever costume creator — you're also a fabulous and literate human being. Dress like a character from a book and you're guaranteed to get your fellow nerds talking.

These 13 Halloween costumes are inspired by some of our favorite characters in literature — highbrow, lowbrow, and in-between. (And you'll actually get to wear clothes.)

Scout from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Ladies: Overalls are very in. ASOS, Forever 21, and Nasty Gal offer a splendid variety of pants that hook over your shoulders. For those with short hair and a need to show off their scrappiness, a Scout costume will be just the ticket. Bonus: Stand next to someone in a ghost costume and call him Boo Radley. Just don’t get mad if anyone thinks you’re Lena Dunham.


Every Halloween store worth its salt will have a good vampire costume. Make yours a little more Count Drac and a little less Robert Pattinson — that means full-on pale makeup, fangs, fake blood, and a severe, Victorian-looking black outfit. No sweatshirts allowed — you don't want to be mistaken for a Cullen from the Pacific Northwest. Bonus points if you have a Mina Murray to follow you around wearing a crown of garlic.

Anyone From 'Infinite Jest'

Go as Orin Incandenza and put on a shiny new Arizona Cardinals Jersey. Slap on tennis shoes and a terrycloth headband (and hide your one-hitter) to be Hal Incandenza. Or don a white linen veil, and voila — you’re Joeelle Van Dyne, aka Madame Psychosis, Prettiest Girl of All Time, and card-carrying member of the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed. If anyone recognizes your costume, you’ll probably make a new pal — or at least have a decent ten-minute conversation about how carrying that book around gave you carpal tunnel.

Katniss from 'The Hunger Games'

Brown leather jacket, hair in a braid, and of course, the bow and arrow that spawned a zillion "girl-who-is-good-at-shooting-things" books and movies. Just don't actually shoot anyone with a bow and arrow in between drinking pumpkin-flavored beers, as I hear that's illegal and might get you wanted for murder.

Zelda Fitzgerald

Don't just be "a flapper" — that's amateur hour. Be Zelda, writer, wife of F. Scott, misunderstood Jazz Age drama queen, who Flavorwire called the "proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl." Bob your hair (like Bernice) and wear that sparkly drop-waist dress. Go easy on the gin. Not too easy, though.

"The Escapist" from 'The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay'

Wonder Woman is alright. But what if, instead of pulling a Summer Roberts in The O.C., you dressed up as Sam Clay and Joe Kavalier’s anti-Fascist superhero The Escapist from Michael Chabon’s 2000 novel? It’s aerodynamic, and a great way to use the pair of black spandex American Apparel leggings that may or may not be in your closet.

Sal, Dean, and Marylou from 'On The Road'

‘50s duds for those who don’t want to go the Sandy and Danny route. Jeans, white t-shirts, and leather jackets for the Sal Paradises and Dean Moriartys. Slightly feminized versions of the same for you Marylous. Bottle of booze and cigarette behind the ear optional, but preferred.

Lady Macbeth

You can pull this off with your average queen costume (robes, crown, scepter), but add some paranoia, sociopathic tendencies, and a red spot on your palm that won’t go away no matter how much you scrub it, and you should be good to go.

A Brontë Sister

Halloween can be chilly, and you can only wear that sexy corn costume or flirty fireman outfit for so long until all your limbs are frostbitten. For those who’d rather swish merrily through the moors than twerk in your underoos, why not dress like a Brontë? Pick your fave: Are you a Charlotte, an Emily, or an Anne? It’s kind of like picking your favorite Sex and the City girl, only not. Button up your highest-necked dress and layer on those petticoats.

The Old Man and the Sea

A pair costume! One of you gets to be the old man (rags, beard, faint scent of tuna) and the other one gets to be the giant fish. Now, I don’t know how exactly the fish is going to work. This might be a good start. But then you guys get to chase each other around all night until you completely wear each other out. Fun, right?

Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer from 'Ghost World'

Daniel Clowes’ classic graphic novel gave us some of the best apathetic-girl style this side of Daria. Plaid skirts, green hair dye, clunky boots, dominatrix Catwoman mask — it’s all fair game. Bitchin’.

American Girl Dolls

Feeling wholesome? Swedish farm girl Kirstin is your best bet. Fancy girls can go as Samantha, the Blair Waldorf of early 20th century America. Mollys can wear the tap shoes they probably secretly still put on every once in a while.

Marla Singer from 'Fight Club'

If Halloween is your time to be a hot mess, you might as well dress like a hot mess to begin with. Smush some gel into your hair, paint on the eyeliner, and say things like “I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar.” Bonus points if you actually did get the dress at a thrift store for one dollar. Halloween is all about the scary factor, and Marla Singer is kind of as scary as it gets.