What’s Your Ideal Literature-Inspired Tattoo?

Allen displaying his LOTR-inspired ink.

You can tell a lot about a person from his tattoos. Generally, if someone has gone through the process of choosing a tattoo and actually getting inked, the image he committed to displaying permanently on his skin must be pretty significant to him in some way.

And as someone with more than a few tattoos (I have prayers written in dwarven runes from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the soul-sucking sword Stormbringer from Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné saga tattooed on me, among other things), it’s not surprising that I’m fascinated by the images other people tattoo on their bodies. I’m particularly enthralled by literature-inspired ink.

I’ve seen a lot of tattoos from children’s books: characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Little Prince, Where the Wild Things Are, The Sneetches and Other Stories, etc. and I’ve seen countless science fiction and fantasy inspired tattoos: from Middle-earth to the Star Wars universe to classic works like Fahrenheit 451 and A Clockwork Orange.

I find the idea of people tattooing quotations from novels on themselves to be intriguing but a little awkward. Is it socially acceptable, for example, to attempt reading someone’s forearm tattoo while on the subway?

As an experiment, I did Google image searches with the word “tattoo” and about 100 novel titles and/or author names. I found tattoos inspired by almost every single title: Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Kerouac’s On the Road, Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Hinton’s The Outsiders, The Hunger Games trilogy, Lovecraft’s Cthulthu Mythos, Meyer’s Twilight saga, Gaiman’s Sandman, Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and, ironically, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to name just a few.

Many of the tattoos I found were beautiful and quite powerful while others were, well, irreverent. I found this literary quote from Bukowski tattooed on an unidentified woman’s thigh: “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.”

If you decided to tattoo just one literary image or quote on your body, which one would it be?

  • James Ray Tuck Jr

    I have a Hellboy tattoo. Literature if you count comics…which I do :)

    Just on Tuesday I did a stylized portrait of Ray Bradbury with a quote from him on a fellow writer friend and The Missus has a Vonnegut quote: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” with an umbrella design,

  • http://www.caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ kimbacaffeinate

    My daughter got a tattoo quote from a line in the Perks of Being A Wallflower. While I am not a fan of tats, I do find fiction characters with tats to be down right smexy..i am not sure I could commit to one for the next 60+ years.

  • Jonathan Holt

    I am a fan! I have two myself. One is a line from Ovid’s Metamorphoses on my forearm (omnia mutantur, nihil interit – all things change, nothing vanishes) and the second is a tribute to Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves on my back. A labyrinth with the words “inextricabilis error” underneath. (From Virgil, quoted in the book). Love that literary ink!

  • Ana Galoca

    “Words have the power to change us” Cassandra Clare’s quote in Clockwork Angel.