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Gonzo: Another world is waiting for you!

Open the cover! That's all you have to do!

In this story, you're an underworld spy!

Piggy: Or turn the page, and you're the girl who can fly!

Both: You can go anywhere!

Right in your easy chair!

It's almost like being there!

Just read a book!
Muppet Babies, "Nice To Have Gnome You"

We've all heard the metaphor that books are a gateway to other worlds. Sometimes, this stops being a metaphor and becomes the literal truth. A book is an ideal object to turn into a Cool Gate to a Magical Land. Portal Books usually come in one of three varieties:

  1. As a literary version of Trapped in TV Land: The characters rapidly move from book to book, with the shelf or the library functioning as the Portal Network, creating a chain of shout outs and parodies of well-known genres and/or famous works along the way. Most of the books visited will be The Theme Park Version of public domain classics.
  2. As a literary version of Portal Picture: One book functions as a portal into the world of the story told in its pages. You usually can't escape until you reach the end of the story. This one is far less likely to be a real book in "our world."
  3. As a literary version of Set Right What Once Went Wrong or Wayback Trip: Characters get Applied Phlebotinum that allows them to enter the setting of one or more previously completely mundane, non-magical books. The conflict often centers on how their interference threatens to screw up the plot, and they have to get the original story back on track to resolve the "right" way.

Any of these three may or may not overlap with Refugee From TV Land, when literary characters come through a Portal Book into "the real world." The best candidates for such reverse travel are villains.

Chances are 10 to 1 that there will be An Aesop about the value of reading. Nobody is more likely to fall into a Portal Book than a video game or TV junkie who thinks books are boring. A Bookworm's best hope of getting to experience this trope is if the Aesop is "Be Careful What You Wish For," and he must learn to stop withdrawing into the fantasy world of his books and "live in the real world." (Of course, either lesson runs the risk of being a Space Whale Aesop, given that books in the real world don't work like this.)[1]

Compare Portal Door, for doors that lead someplace non-adjacent.

Examples of Portal Book include:

Type 1

Anime and Manga

  • Doraemon - One of his gadgets are a pair of shoes that enables the user to go into the world of fiction.


  • David Weisner's Caldecott award-winning picture book version of Three Little Pigs plays with this as, partway through the story, the pigs realize they can leave their book and visit characters in other stories, resulting in some impressive Art Shifts.

Live Action TV

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation


 The Big Brain am winning again! I am the greetest! Mwa-ha-ha-ha! I will now leave Earth for no raisin!

  • Looney Tunes and/or Merrie Melodies: "Sniffles and the Bookworm," "Have You Got Any Castles?", and "Book Revue" all involve characters from books coming to life and interacting with each other.
    • The Animainiacs episode "Video Review" is an updated homage to the above shorts, particularly "Book Revue", applying the same concept to a rental store full of videocassettes.
  • Super Why!.
  • Inverted with Orson from Garfield and Friends, who seems to have the power of pulling creatures, characters, and scenarios out of books just by reading them.

Type 2

Anime & Manga

  • Fushigi Yuugi - Miaka and Yui fall into the Book of the Four Gods, and their adventures can be read by anyone who picks up the book in the real world.

  This is the story of a girl who gathered the seven seishi of Suzaku, and acquired the power to make every wish come true. The story itself is an incantation. Whoever finishes the book shall recieve this power. As soon as the page is turned, the story will become truth and begin...

  • In Soul Eater, Noah/ Fake Eibon enjoys doing this.


  • The Inkworld Trilogy
  • The Neverending Story
  • Angel Book of the Dead had a variant of type two, where Wesley was sucked into a book and trapped in its pages-he to help the other trapped people and defeat the people-eating worm demon hunting everyone before he could escape.
  • There's a kids' series called Alice in Bibleland that centers on this premise.


  • The Pirate movie Magic Island has a boy named Jack get sucked into his book. He ends up saving a mermaid and some treasure from Blackbeard the pirate.

Live Action TV

  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Rita and Zedd trap three of the Rangers in Kimberly's favorite childhood book. When that plan backfires, they turn the book's villain into the Monster of the Week.
  • Done with Alex's diary in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • Done twice on Are You Afraid of the Dark??:
    • A microwave oven turns a comic book into a Portal Book in "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner." It ends with the hero going inside said comic book to stop the Emotion Eater villain that had escaped earlier in the episode.
    • A video game junkie learns how (dangerously) exciting reading can be in "The Tale of the Bookish Baby-sitter."
  • Done in the Charmed episode "Charmed Noir," where Paige and Kyle get trapped in a book written by two of the Magic School's students.

Video Games


 This book is made to order, but it isn't to be read

When they open up this book, they're sucked inside instead


Web Comics

Web Original

  • One of the SCPs is the two book stoppers that turn any book inserted between them into such a portal. Explorer's actions while inside are also reflected in the book after they leave it.

Western Animation

Type 3


  • The Incredible Umbrella and its sequel The Amorous Umbrella by Marvin Kaye.
  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next is all about this. For example, Thursday traps Jack Schitt in a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in the first book.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • There was a Wishbone's Amazing Odyssey computer game that used this.

Role Playing Games

  • In the '80s, the German RPG Das schwarze Auge (Realms of Arcania) had a franchise for kids, called Der Geheimbund des Schwarzen Auges. In this game, you were a Guardian at 'The Library', and whenever there is something in a book that went wrong - e.g. Huckleberry Finn got lost in the cave, Long John Silver has staged another coup on Treasure island or whatever - the Guardians enter the book and its story to set it back on track.
  1. Unless the reader has an addictive personality- that's when things can get messy.