We recently asked readers in our Facebook community if they had any literary tattoos, and the responses came pouring in. Several of us here at the Riot have bookish ink, so we figured it was only fair to show you ours now that you’ve told us about yours. Let’s do it!
Amanda Nelson: Forgive the high-school-style-bathroom-selfies–it’s way hard to take pictures of your own tattoos. My back is a poem-in-progress that I’m making out of lines I love from literature/poetry. So far it reads “in secret, between the shadow and the soul/enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life” which are lines from Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII and The Great Gatsby, respectively. My arm is the cover of The Early Ayn Rand (don’t hate, I’m not a fan anymore) and the verse John 1:5, and on my stomach is the verse Daniel 12:3–if you want to have a fight about Bible-as-literature, I’m your girl.
Eric Smith: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sleeve. My mom was a huge influence on my life as a book lover, frequently dishing out stacks of classics on Christmas, birthdays, or just because. Jules Verne was one of my earliest literary loves, proving that I liked steampunk before it was steampunk. The first piece in a full sleeve, it’s the Nautilus.
Jenn Northington: This tattoo was inspired by the bees of Nick Harkaway’s books The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker — heroes in one, proxy villains in another, awesome in both.
Liberty Hardy (5!)
The first is from my favorite poem, In the Desert by Stephen Crane. The other is from The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I just loved it so much. BECAUSE TRUE.
These are both Mike Mignola illustrations. The one on the left is Baba Yaga’s chicken-leg house. She’s a character from Slavic folklore who plays heavily in Hellboy’s origin story. She’s a fascinating character. I’m super-excited for Toby Barlow’s novel, Baba Yaga, which comes out later this spring!
This is from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite book of his is Slapstick, but it doesn’t really have any pictures. Plus, semantics.
Nicole Perrin: This line is from the opening pages of Mardi, Melville’s third novel, which I see as a kind of raw, unpolished precursor to Moby-Dick. The narrator gives the literal response to this question right away: from Ravavai to the Galapagos. But his journey on the sea of life is without such easy answers.
Preeti Chhibber (2)
“You don’t have to stay anywhere forever.” The Kindly Ones, Sandman Vol. 9, Neil Gaiman. Lucifer says this to Delirium in The Kindly Ones and it is one of my favorite quotes of all time. And Lucifer is my favorite character in the series.
“infinite.” for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky. Just before high school, I moved to Florida from the town I’d been my whole life. My best friend sent me a copy of Perks for my birthday, and on the front and back covers were notes from all my hometown friends, and throughout the text are notes from my teenaged years BFF. I still have that copy, and I still read it.
Rachel Manwill: The semicolon on the back of my neck is the first piece of ink I ever got. I hadn’t yet started to work as an editor, but I was already a solid grammar nerd. But I got it because I was at a stalemate in my life, where I could do what was safe – what my head told me to do – or what was unknown – what my gut/heart told me to do. I got the semicolon on the back of my neck to remind myself that my head and my gut/heart are two separate entities for making decisions but that they should work harmoniously together – like two halves of a sentence joined together by a semicolon.
Rebecca Joines Schinsky: I got this quote from Fahrenheit 451 for my 30th birthday. The full quote is “Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal.” It’s a reminder that often, the risk IS the reward and that the best things happen when you acknowledge uncertainty and let it be exhilarating instead of terrifying.
Your turn, readers! Do you have any literary tattoos? If you got one, what would you get?
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