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:
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.)note
Not to be confused for the behind-the-scenes digital book of Portal 2.
- Doraemon - One of his gadgets are a pair of shoes that enables the user to go into the world of fiction.
- Batman and Robin once used Applied Phlebotinum to get into one of these in a story published during The Golden Age of Comic Books.
- The premise of the comic book adaptation of Mystery Science Theater 3000 involves Jonah and the Bots being sent into old comic books by the Mads, allowing them to riff from within the pages and interact with its characters.
- Twilight and Navarone get sucked into one in Diaries of a Madman, and have to play along with the stories found in several books as they advance through the world.
- The Goosebumps film adaptation reveals that all of R.L. Stine's original manuscripts are Portal Books that, when opened, release the monsters into the real world. He's dedicated his life to keeping the books locked and hidden in a house full of booby traps to presumably slow them down should they escape (which they do when the film's protagonist comes knocking).
- The main focus of The Pagemaster.
- "I can go anywhere! Take a look! It's in a book! A Reading Rainbow!"
- The Book in The Book of Stories OCT.
- This trope is the main focus of The Pagemaster.
- An episode of The Fairly OddParents! called "Shelf Life," which includes the interesting complication that altering anything in non-fiction books will alter the history or physics of the real world.
- In the Futurama episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid," the Chief Giant Brain trapped Fry and Leela's minds into such books as Tom Sawyer, Moby-Dick, and Pride and Prejudice. Fry finally defeats it by trapping his mind in a book of his own writing, "a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors."
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.
- Cardcaptor Sakura: In one episode of the Sakura Card arc, Eriol traps Sakura inside the Alice in Wonderland book.
- 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 receive 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.
- Tamagotchi: Happiest Story in the Universe! has Mametchi and his friends travelling into books for fun. Then, Kikitchi travels into a book called "The World's Happiest Story", where his actions come close to affecting the real world; Mametchi and the others go in to get him out and save Tamagotchi Planet as well as the world in "The World's Happiest Story".
- In Season 8 of Happy Heroes, the heroes travel into a book titled "A History of Magic" to retrieve Haha Xiao's staffs and wake up the Global Leader.
- Douwe Dabbert, in the album The Ship of Ice, Douwe and Domoli enter a book so they can watch the story play out in front of them. However, they are merely there as spectators, and as such cannot interfere with the events in ways that would alter the course of the story.
- 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.
- Beauty and the Beast (2017) has a variation that ties into its Adaptation Expansion: The Enchantress left one of these behind for the Beast on top of his magic mirror and enchanted rose. What does it do? It allows the user to travel anywhere they wish in the world. Belle and the Beast use it to visit her childhood home in Paris, and the sad backstory of her Missing Mom is revealed in the process. See also Literature below.
- The Inkworld Trilogy
- The Neverending Story
- The Angel novel 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 Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell (and presumably the other books in the LOS series) by Chris Colfer focus on two kids who enter a magical land through a book.
- The Beauty and the Beast (2017) Expanded Universe novel Lost in a Book has Bookworm Belle, during her stay in the Beast's castle, discover a magical book (Nevermore) in the vast library. And she can enter and leave its Magical Land freely...at first. An unusual example in that Belle's "real world" is already quite magical.
- The various books in Magic Tree House seem to work this way. It's unclear, though, whether they actually send the protagonists side the book's setting or transport them to the historical era depicted in the book.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita and Zed 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.
- El Exprimidor de Libros (The Book Squeezer) in Odisea Burbujas, a device that allows the main characters to travel inside books, often use to teach kids about literature, as the show is educational.
- In the music video for a-ha's "Take on Me", the (handsome) lead singer who is in a comic book, invites a (very cute) woman who is reading it to join him. She does, and becomes a black-and-white drawn character. When he stands behind a mirror, on one side he (and her) are three dimensional, in color, but on the other side, they're line-drawn black and white. When some mooks start chasing them, he runs and pulls her along, then pushes her back out to the real world. Then later, she returns the favor and invites him out of the comic and into her world. The official video is here.
- This is the plot of Doki Doki Panic, the game of which Super Mario Bros. 2 is a Dolled-Up Installment.
- Similarly, the plot of Disney's Magical Quest 3.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: This is literally the plotline of the game.
- The plot of the edutainment game I. M. Meen involves an evil wizard sucking "bookworm" kids into his magic labyrinth with a magic book.
This book is made to order, but it isn't to be read
When they open up this book, they're sucked inside instead
- In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales the demon book Bebuzzu transforms a storybook into one of these.
- In World Mosaics 3: Fairy Tales the player has to find their way out of a book of fairy tales from various countries.
- In Disney Magical Quest 3 Huey, Dewey and Louie are sucked into Storybook World by the evil "King Pete" after they open an old book in the attic and Donald (or Mickey) has to enter the book in order to get them out.
- The titular book of Rakenzarn Tales, which is used to transport Kyuu into the world of Rakenzarn to start the game proper.
- According to the Elias Material New Age website, both historical time periods and fictional settings are arranged into books that one can experience as a point of view, or focus. The reader is presently focused in the Shift Book.
- SCP Foundation, SCP-826 ("Draws You into the Book"). SCP-826 is two bookends. When a book is placed between them, the room it's in will change into the setting of the book. Anyone who enters the room will enter a random location in the book's setting. Any actions the explorer takes will be reflected in the book after they leave it.
- Most episodes of Gumby involve this.
- Adventures of the Week on Muppet Babies frequently took the kids into books, including Around the World in 80 Days, Peter Pan, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", and numerous Fairy Tales. Interestingly, the episode specifically about books and libraries didn't use this but rather put the kids in the setting of Labyrinth searching for Piggy's lost Alice in Wonderland book.
- The trope-naming Great Big Book of Everything on Stanley.
- The Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon in 1978 had episode 13, "Fairy Tale Of Doom", where the Toyman develops a device that can project anyone into the pages of a storybook. He forces Hawkman to chase him into Jack and the Beanstalk, Cheetah forces Wonder Woman to chase her into Alice in Wonderland and Brainiac forces Superman to chase him into Gulliver's Travels and the three villains trap the three Super Friends in the three treacherous fairy tales. The other Super Friends must rescue the trapped heroes before the clock runs out and the books vanish forever.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Power Ponies" has Spike and the Main Six learn the hard way that this kind of book is apparently a freely available specialized comic book retail item when they are sucked into it and have to play out its roleplaying game scenario in order to leave.
- One episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates thanks to fairy magic the cast travel inside the book Alice in Wonderland with the characters taking the roles of the book's characters.
- The Garbage Pail Kids Cartoon episode "A Rhyme in Time" had the Garbage Pail Kids enter a world of nursery rhymes through a book after noticing that Jack and Jill are missing from the illustration of their nursery rhyme and decide to enter the book to investigate.
- 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.
- In Woody Allen's "The Kugelmass Episode" Persky the Great invented a cabinet that can transport the occupant into whatever book is placed inside when he taps on the door three times. The titular character uses it to cheat on his wife with Madame Bovary. It eventually breaks when he tries to get sent into Portnoy's Complaint and he ends up in an old Spanish textbook being chased by an irregular verb.
- To link books together in Myst, the world has to be described in its pages (in an archaic, chinese-like form of D'ni), but once completed, the books on the shelf act similar to a Portal Network.
- The whole premise of the Myst game is this trope. Initially type 2 but with the return averted. The main story/adventure is slowly revealed by the puzzles you solve and this part is more like a type 1.
- There was a Wishbone's Amazing Odyssey computer game that used this.
- Fiction Fixers: Alice in Wonderland and its sequel Fiction Fixers: The Curse of Oz are about reversing changes in the books caused by an agent of the Illiterati.
- In the Nevertales series Travelers can use any book as a portal into another world.
- In the '80s, the German RPG Das schwarze Auge (Realms of Arkania) 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.