Saturday, November 27, 2010

Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide. Edited by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor


Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Harper Perennial


"It's not the word made flesh we want in writing, in fiction, and in poetry, but the flesh made word."

- William Gass, On Being Blue

What a great quote to use as an introduction to a book featuring atleast 100 images of tattoos inspired by works of literature.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 36 percent of people in the United States between the ages eighteen and twenty-five, and 40 percent between the ages of twenty-six and forty, have at least one tattoo.  From what I see around me, they (tattoos) appear to be mainstream now and are as acceptable/common as pierced ears, in other words, tattoos have lost their "badass" image!

When people pick tattoos they generally try to pick something that is meaningful to them or something that celebrates a milestone in their lives. So is it then logical to suppose that a lover of literature would pick a word, quote or phrase from a favourite work of literature?  I think so and so did Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, for they set about trying to compile a catalog of bookish tattoos which then came to be known as "Literary Tattoos" from Bookworms Worldwide."   Bookworms Worldwide refers to the group of people who submitted tattoos - photos, testimonies and the stories behind their particular tattoos -  to the book.

In these pages you'll find favourite lines from novels, illustrations, portraits and passages of verse; you'll also find the inspirations behind the tattoos: favourite childhood books, commemorations of  triumphant (or tragic) moments in lives; affirmation of friendship; drunken whims; a phrase or an image that were just too cool not to keep forever and so on.

Here are some of my favourites:


Tess Adamski : Toronto, Ontario

Kerouac at his typewriter with the closing lines of "On The Road"


Stanza from "Auguries of Innocence" by William Blake



I guess all that remains is for me to ask:  if you planned to get a literary tattoo, what would yours say?

20 comments:

Leela Soma said...

Nice one Angie, a book on literary tattoos. I love the quote at the beginnning. re my own one, I am too scared of the pain to get one so it must be brief.
'Silence beautiful voice' Tennyson

amanda said...

I think this blog is really tastefully done. I like it a lot.
Last month I interviewed a young lady here in Spain who had her newborn child's name with date of birth etc. inked on her wrist. She also had some verse tattooed on her shoulder.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Inasmuch as I love literature I don't think I would have words tattooed on me. lol. They look nicely done though

Anonymous said...

Honestly, that second tattoo is absolutely beautifully done.

My sister has my nephew's initials tattooed on her arm, and it's very tastefully done. Even my mother couldn't object to it. As for me, I'd be quoting Shakespeare most likely... though I've thought about getting a semicolon on my arm.

Priya Shankar said...

I know I've already mentioned this to you, but you have an amazing blog! I am going to have to check out this book even though I also don't think I would get a tattoo.

In some ways, though, I see how they are so popular. It can be such a great form of self-expression.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Leela!

Forgive me for the late response...don't know if am coming or going lately...'tis the season, I suppose? :)

"Silence,beautiful voice", is lovely!!! Better get it before I steal it from you! And you're right about the pain, I'm chicken too!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi Amanda and thank you!

Yes, just about everyone seems to sport a tattoo these days. They are more meaningful when you think that every tattoo has a story behind it. The art has come a long way from the early days when only sailors and tribal people wore them!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Nana!!!

Sorry I am so late with a response.

For me, the problem with this art is its permanency. I might tattoo a "favourite quote" today but tomorrow it might not have the same resonance for me, but I'm stuck with the tattoo! Ofcourse, there is laser but it's such an expensive option.

Lotus Reads said...

Go for it Anon...of all the punctuation marks, I think I love the semi colon the best! As one grammarian put it, "the semicolon is the mortar that joins two ideas into a greater one"

Lotus Reads said...

Hey Priya!

They sure are! Do you watch LA Ink on TLC? It's amazing how much thought some people put into their tattoos and how elaborate they are. If I did get one (and that's quite unlikely) I might get an image of a lotus with a quote from the Buddha.

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar said...

Tattoos inspired by literature. Great concept. And thank you so much, Angelique, for featuring this book on your blog. You really have an eye for books. However, I can't stand the pain that goes into the making of a tattoo so I'll never have one, literary or anything :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hi Hans! Thanks for stopping by! Great concept, like you say and getting popular all the time! You're sweet to say I have an eye for books, I think it's just that I seek books that are not so easily found in brick and mortar bookshops...guess what I am trying to say is, I like books that have just a touch of something "different" about them.

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar said...

Hi, Angelique. Your blog is great. Honestly. Keep posting more such stuff, this "brick and mortar bookshops" stuff is tiring.

Sanjay said...

Lotus, you do have a knack for reading and reviewing the most amazing books. Simply eclectic tastes, the best book blog IMHO.
Loved reading this post, thank you for sharing.
I did expect a quote from Kerouac, and was not disappointed. A truly seminal book that one.
I would not mind getting a tattoo someday, but I am afraid it would be nothing remotely literary.

Kunal said...

Mine would say: 'All the best people in the world are...'

Lotus Reads said...

Are?? Don't leave us in suspense, Kunal! :-)))

Мария said...

I would love to get literary tatt... I like the last one and I want to recommend you all guys the movie 'the pillow book'. It is the story of a woman who, as a little girl in Kyoto, Japan, was written on every year on her birthday by her father, who recounted a creation myth that says God first creates clay figures and writes various details on them, including their names, and then if he thinks they are suitable, he signs his name to them and thus instills them with life. Each time the father ended his retelling by signing his name on the back of his daughter's neck. Perhaps she took this as giving her life, or at least continuing to reassure her of her father's approval.

jamesreegan said...

Hi, Angelique. Your blog is great. Honestly. Keep posting more such stuff, this "brick and mortar bookshops" stuff is tiring.
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zachseal said...

Amazing, I would have never thought of doing something like that to my body???

jamesreegan said...

I might tattoo a "favorite quote" today but tomorrow it might not have the same resonance for me, but I'm stuck with the tattoo! Of course, there is laser but it's such an expensive option.
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