Great books inspire us in all sorts of ways — not all of which you’d expect. In addition to inspiring you to do great things or be a better person, books can also inspire you in smaller, simpler ways — to take a trip to a particular place, take a chance based on something you read in the book, or even name your baby after one of the characters, locations, or even the author.
Many literary baby names feel classic, like if you choose one of those names for your little one, you can’t go wrong. Just like naming your baby after any other character or person, by giving your baby that particular name, you’re also likely hoping to pass on some of the traits or characteristics that person possesses.
Whether it’s a name that’s been on your mind since you read a particular book as a kid or you were just inspired by a book you read last week, literary baby names can be the perfect choice. These are the literary names that were most popular last year.
The Harry Potter books, movies, short stories, and spinoffs will undoubtedly have quite the impact on baby names for a long time. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the original, UK version of the first book) was published on June 26, 1997, according to The Guardian.
The premise of the books likely needs no introduction, but they center on orphan Harry Potter, who, after being taken in by his maternal aunt, uncle, and cousin, receives an acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is told that he is a wizard. The American version of the first book — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — was released by children’s book giant Scholastic in 1998 with little fanfare. The film version of the first book, however, hit theaters in 2001 and all things Harry Potter became increasingly popular after that.
In 2000, 438 American baby boys were named Harry, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website, while 454 little boys were given the name in 2001. The name has enjoyed another popularity boost recently, with the staging of the play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child in London — and the subsequent release of the play in book form. In 2015, 300 baby boys were born in the U.S. and named Harry, while in 2016, when the play debuted, 372 American baby Harrys were born. Only time will tell if additional Harry Potter material continues to influence baby names.
Hermione, which, according to The Bump, is a Greek name meaning "messenger" or "earthly" and is the female form of Hermes, a god of Greek mythology. It is also the name of one of Harry’s best friends in the Harry Potter series. Like Harry, the name Hermione became much more popular after the release of the first film adaptation.
In 2001, five little Hermiones were born in the United States after zero the previous year, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website, while in 2002, the number jumped to 17. In 2015, 57 little girls born in the U.S. were given this unique name. The following year, when Harry Potter and The Cursed Child was staged and released, the number again jumped, this time to 71.
Like with Harry, it remains to be seen if more Harry Potter-related releases will affect the popularity of baby names, but chances are, as those who grew up with the books begin (and continue) to have babies, you’ll see more little Hermiones to come.
The heroine of Aisha Saeed’s latest Young Adult hit, Written in the Stars is called Naila. Naila is the daughter of conservative Pakistani immigrants who’ve said that she can be whoever she wants to be and look however she wants to look so long as she allows them to choose her future husband. The problem? Naila falls in love.
This beautiful name, according to the BabyCenter website, is of Arabic origin and means "attainer," just what you want for your sweet little girl. In 2015, there were 96 baby girls named Naila born in the U.S., according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. The following year, in 2016 when the book was released, 105 American baby girls received this lyrical name.
Though John Green’s teen drama Paper Towns was originally published in 2009, the movie adaptation was released in 2015. Margo is an elusive character, one who isn’t actually present throughout much of the book, but her name — and her character — have made an impact.
In 2010, after the book was published, there were 82 baby girls born in the U.S. named Margo, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. In 2011, that number grew to 98. By 2015, when the movie was released, there were 190 little Margos born and in 2016, following the success of Paper Towns, 252 baby girls named Margo were born in the U.S.
Thinking this name might a good one for your upcoming bundle of joy? According to Babble, this sweet and mysterious French and Hungarian name is a variant of Margaret meaning "pearl."
One of the most popular books of the last year was Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls, about a California cult in the 1960s. One of the main characters is 14-year-old Evie. According to The Bump, Evie is a Latin, Hebrew, and Norman name meaning "life."
In 2015, there were 611 baby Evies born in the U.S., according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. The following year when the book was released, 784 American baby girls were given the sweet and cute name Evie.
Commonwealth is the latest novel by award-winning, best-selling author Ann Patchett. While the character Beverly may not be an exceptionally wonderful role model for your little girl — she kisses Bert Cousins, a man who is certainly not her husband, on the day of her daughter’s christening after he shows up uninvited — but the name has enjoyed a bit of a bump in popularity since the book was released.
In 2015, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website, there were 153 baby girls named Beverly in the U.S. The following year, the year that Commonwealth was published, the parents of 165 babies named their little girls Beverly. This book came out near the end of 2016, so its continued effect on names in 2017 isn’t yet exactly clear. You’ll just have to wait and see.
This cute, silly, boyish-sounding version of Oliver, which, according to Nameberry, is a Latin name meaning "olive tree," is also the name of one of the lead characters in Nicola Yoon’s Young Adult instant best-seller, Everything, Everything. The name is still relatively rare, but has steadily grown since the book was published towards the tail-end of 2015.
In 2014, before the book was published, there were, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website, five little boys named Olly born in the U.S. In 2015, seven little Ollys were born. And in 2016, after the book was published the previous September, 13 babies received the name Olly. With the release of the film adaptation of Everything, Everything in May of 2017, there will almost certainly be a few more Ollys around over the next several years.
The sweet, regal, elegant name Eleanor has certainly come back into favor as of late. Part of its most recent skyrocketing popularity is likely due to the success Maria Semple’s newest release, Today Will Be Different.
In 2014, before the release of Today Will Be Different, there were 3,733 little girls named Eleanor born in the U.S., according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. In 2015, the year the book was published, that number jumped to 4,424. And in 2016, following the release of Semple’s best-seller, the parents of 5,100 baby girls gave their little ones the name Eleanor.
According to Variety, HBO recently ordered a limited series TV adaptation of Today Will Be Different starring Julia Roberts, which likely will have a big impact on baby names in the coming years, too. Semple also penned the very popular Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and it is currently being adapted into a film starring Cate Blanchett, which means you may see some more tiny Bernadettes in your future, as well.
Ada Twist, Scientist, the newest addition to the career-inspired picture book series features little scientist, Ada, who’s curious about absolutely everything around her. According to The Bump, this sweet German name means "noble." It’s cute and somewhat unique, while still clearly approachable.
In 2015, before the book hit shelves, there were 916 American baby girls born that were named Ada, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. In 2016, the year the book was published, the parents of 959 baby girls in the U.S. decided to give their inquisitive little future scientists the name Ada, and there just may be more Adas to come.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest was undoubtedly one of the most popular books of the last year. It’s the story of siblings Melody, Beatrice, Jack, and Leo dealing with issues past and present, somewhat tied to the financial nest egg that their now-deceased father left them, which they’re set to receive in several months.
In 2015, before the book was released, 540 American baby girls were born named Beatrice, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. In 2016, after the book was released in March of that year, 553 little Beatrices were born in the U.S.
It remains to be seen if the soaring popularity of the book will lead to more little Beatrices in 2017, as well, but this refined name, which according to Babble, means "bringer of joy," is just the kind of sentiment you want to pass on to your new little girl.
While not one of the Plumb siblings, Walker is Jack’s husband in Sweeney’s instant best-seller, The Nest. Jack and Walker own a beach cottage, which ends up at the center of a secret that Jack is keeping.
This somewhat unique name is English, meaning "cloth-walker," according to Nameberry. The Nest was published in March of 2016, and 1,044 little Walkers were born in the U.S. that year, according to data gathered from the Social Security Administration’s website. That’s up from the previous year, when 1,008 baby boys received the name Walker.
Inspiration can come from anywhere
Baby name inspiration can strike at any moment, but well-loved literary characters make for wonderful inspiration. They’re people with whom you grow up, your relationship changing as you grow older. There’s a lot that a literary baby name can say about your baby, if you select the right one. You never know, the next time you pick up a book, you just may be inspired.