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Literary Tattoos: Crazy or Cool? | 101 Books

So, small fact about me: Just below my left shoulder blade, I have a tattoo of a seagull in flight over a palm tree.

That's Daisy, but where's Gatsby? (Source: Zhippo.com)

Don’t believe me? You’re right. In fact, I don’t have any tats. I know…so lame.

I’m not opposed to tattoos, but if I ever got one, it would have to be of something really, really meaningful if it’s going to hang out on my skin for another 50 years. In other words, no barbed wire, skulls and crossbones, or lightning bolts—unless I wanted to memorialize surviving a lightning strike or something like that.

What about novels? Has a book ever changed my life to the point that I would get a tattoo of a character or something to do with the novel? Can’t say that’s happened, and I don’t think it ever will. But to each his own.

Buzz Feed posted some pretty amazing, and pretty creepy, images of literary tattoos. For these folks’ sake, I hope their lives really were changed by the novel—because it’s now permanently draped on their skin.

In other words, I feel sorry for the 21-year-old hipster who got the Vonnegut tattoo because liking Vonnegut is cool.

Whoever created the Gatsby tattoo is quite an artist—that one looks beautiful. And the Kerouac tattoo—wow. Both of those are impressive, though perhaps a bit overstated. Go here to check them all out.

Do you have a literary tattoo? Or, if you got one, what would it be of?

via Literary Tattoos: Crazy or Cool? | 101 Books.

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  1. To be honest, I think the difference between those with and those without tattoos, is that those who don’t have tattoos don’t really know how easy it is to live with something for the rest of your life. Your tattoos are just a part of you, the same as your legs or kidneys are, haha.

    Anyway, I have a literary tattoo, of the word “Nevermore” across the front of my shoulder, from Poe’s The Raven. It rocks.

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    1. I don’t know how true that is. My sister’s tattoo is of a rose on her arm. Nothing wild or crazy about it. Just a simple rose that she got back in the late 80’s and she keeps saying she wishes she never got it every time the topic of tattoos come up. Her advice to me? Don’t get a tattoo.

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      1. I think your sister’s opinions of her tattoos is something that’s fairly rare, to be honest. I work as a writer for tattoo magazines and websites, among other things, and I haven’t met many people who’ve regretted their tattoos. Of course, there’ll be some like your sister, but overall, if you get a good tattoo you’re not that likely to regret it. 🙂

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    2. I hear you. 😉 I hope I didn’t come across as ‘Tattoos are bad!’ That was totally not my intention. I’d love to get a tattoo but if I ever got over the ‘needle poking my skin a million times’ hurdle, I’d still be nervous about tattoos being permanent. hehe.

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      1. Oh, of course not, you didn’t come across like that at all! The needles aren’t that bad to be honest- unless you’re having a mammoth almost four hour session- ouch! The permanence isn’t really bad as long as the tattoo is a good one, most of the time, like we’ve said. 🙂 Not that I’m trying to talk you round, haha- tattoo aren’t for everyone, after all!

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  2. Probably not enough thought here to write a blog post on the topic, but enough for a comment. A turtle for chapter three of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

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  3. I sat behind a girl in class who had a tattoo from The Giving Tree…the old man sitting on the tree stump and the words “And the tree was happy”. The first time I saw it I got chills because that was one of my favorite books. I don’t think I would ever get a tattoo, but I’d rather do something literary than anything else.

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  4. Ever seen pics of tattoos on aging men or women, a few stay okay, but others have made me glad I am unmarked by self inflicted horrors–enough come from just crossing the crest to the downhill slope. Life marks so don’t think being un-tatted is lame.

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  5. I’ve got two tattoos; my most recent is a line from an Emily Dickinson poem. It says: I shall not live in vain. It’s on the inside of my forearm. Here’s a link to a photo of it: http://rightinfrontofme.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/is-it-weird-to-be-obsessed-with-your-own-skin/

    The decision to get the tattoo was easy. Deciding from the hundreds of book and thousands of poems that I’ve read or taught was much more difficult. After finally deciding to go with the line from Dickinson, I had ideas for another twenty tattoos. Mixed blessing, I guess.

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  6. I have a tattoo, but not a literary one. One of the women who works at the grocery store I shop at has a tattoo of The Little Prince. And it is awesome. I love the idea of a literary tattoo but would never be able to decide on which piece of literature I’d want adorning me!

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  7. I have the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter! I love love love it 🙂 Four years later, it is still a conversation/friendship starter.

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  8. Classic literature, yes: it’s here to stay (like your tat). I have a friend getting ready to have a line from an Anne Sexton poem (“And when we touch, we enter touch entirely”) tattooed on her arm, and I think it’s a beautiful idea. But Harry Potter–as amazing as it is–or Twilight is tricky, and likely to look a bit silly.

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  9. for me having tattoo is an additional story in your personal life. tattoo has something to represent with one self. but we can’t obviate to hear some bad comments of having tattoo. especially in conservative community.
    i have one tattoo in my body. a tribal tattoo in my back of my right shoulder. i acquired my tattoo when i was in 2nd year high school. i treasured it and some sorts of identity.

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  10. I’m still not sure that I would commit to a tattoo, but I have often thought that if I was going to get one it would be a lyric. Probably a Josh Ritter lyric. I hadn’t really thought about literary stuff but the more I think about it, I do think it’s a great idea.

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  11. I’ve been thinking about getting ‘too weird to live, too rare to die’, of course, from Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, in part due to the source material, but also for what it actually says (if that made any sense at all). Not so much a ‘kick in the face’ to the people that made me suffer, but a permanent reminder that they’ll never be rid of me; the world needs the people that are commonly thought of as strange, crazy, or generally not fitting in. The main questions now, however, are where and when should I get it; when being when I have the money, and where still being a question …

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  12. don’t get a tattoo unless it has A LOT of meaning behind it! I own a business and my assistant tends to judge those with tattoos more harshly. tattoos show a juvenile essence and that is not something you want when dealing with school, careers or even relationships. if you do get a tattoo be prepared to fight and redeem yourself and your tattooed body.

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