20 Subtly Tasteful Tattoos Only Literature Geeks Will Understand

20 Subtly Tasteful Tattoos Only Literature Geeks Will Understand

You and your best book aren’t likely to have a messy breakup. Why not profess your book love in ink? But if those great big swaths of text aren’t really your style, fear not. You can get a literary design that shows your love in a tiny, elegant way. Bonus: when you go small, when someone “gets” your tattoo, you’ve made an instant connection.

1. Les Miserables’ fierce line, ‘Je suis farouche’ (“I am wild.”) in Victor Hugo’s handwriting

lesmizAlexandria Reads

“Be serious,” said Enjolras.
“I am wild,” replied Grantaire.
Enjolras meditated for a few moments, and made the gesture of a man who has taken a resolution.

2. Keep your novel really real with this classic piece of Hemingway advice.

writedrunnkeditsoberNook User’s Club

3. Light your way with the candle from Shel Silverstein’s poem, “Invitation.”

shelsilversteincandleLiterary Tattoos

“If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”

4. “Still I Rise” by poet, activist and all-around hero, Maya Angelou

stillIriseThe Gloss

“You may write me down in history 
With your bitter, twisted lies, 
You may tread me in the very dirt 
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

5. e.e. cummings’s “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]”

carryyourheartF Yeah Tattoos

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)”

6. Interrobang, sometimes called the quexclamation mark, is the lit-nerdiest way to claim your grammar enthusiasm.

interrobangLiterary Tattoos

7. Harry Potter’s Deathly Hallows Symbol

deathlyhallowsTattoo Models

“The Elder Wand,” he said, and he drew a straight vertical line on the parchment. “The Resurrection Stone,” he said, and he added a circle on top of the line. “The Cloak of Invisibility,” he finished, enclosing both line and circle in a triangle, to make the symbol that so intrigued Hermione.”Together,” he said, “the Deathly Hallows.”

8. The struggle for wifi is real. 

wifiOmega’s Eye

9. If you’ve ever printed your own comics or design, these CMYK printing testers will take you back to the full-bleed days.

cmykprintingCMDshift Design

10. Lord of the Rings line, “Not all who wander are lost,” in fictional Elvin language, Quenya.

notallwhowanderTattoo Lit

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

11. If getting a full haiku is too much, the Chinese symbol for “poetry” is expressive but simple.


12. The three recurring words that make up the motif of Slaughterhouse Five.

soitgoesSip That Leen

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” 

13. The often deliciously passive aggressive notation is short for the Latin “sic erat scriptum” (“thus was it written”).

sicLiterary Tattoos

14. Jack Merridew’s creeptastic mask from Lord of the Flies.

LordofFliesTattoo Lit

“Beside the mere, his sinewy body held up a mask that drew their eyes and appalled them. He began to dance and his laughter became a bloodthirsty snarling. He capered towards Bill, and the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.”

15. Monogram containing every letter in alphabet. (Confused? Check out the gif.)

monogramF Yeah Tattoos

16. “I am Joe’s smirking revenge,” from the narrator of Fight Club.

joessmirkingScene Core

17. Stay inspired to be true to your memoir with this open book.


18. Keep calm with the Braille word for “still.”

Rip Torn Collective

19. The final words of Ferd of The Duchess of Melfi on Act V, Scene V.

likediamondsTattoo Lit

“Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust
like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust”

20. “Timshel,” the Hebrew word at the core of East Of Eden.

timshelTattoo Bank

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

Loading Facebook Comments ...


Leave a Reply