Tattoo books stick with you—July 22, 2011
Usually, when writing our Tribune articles, a librarian or staff member chooses a topic to write about and then chooses the books, movies or music to include in the article. This time the book chose me and I’m weaving together an article inspired by said book.
I fell in love with a new book The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide. The book depicts hundreds of tattoos with literary references: childhood favorite illustrations, Latin and Greek quotes, punctuation, poems and single words. I don’t claim to be an expert in tattoos, but it seems to me a tattoo is either highly personal or totally random. Some of the tattoos depicted are random but most are highly personal, as we know literature and the books in our lives can be. If you are a literary type, looking for inspiration, or just want to see a Harry Potter tribute, I suggest flipping through this book. The stories about the tattoos, the placements and the fonts are just as interesting as the ink itself.
So in searching the library for whatever else we had on the world of ink, I discovered Kat Von D’s book, High Voltage Tattoo. I love the way the book is arranged with various sketches, old photos, Kat’s own words and of course, lots and lots of tattoos. She writes about her inspirations, her family, friends and tattoo etiquette, such as “don’t talk on your cell phone.”
If you’d rather conjure up images in your own mind, you can try a few fiction authors that make tattooing a major part of their work. The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi is still one of the most read detective mysteries in Japan. Originally written in 1948, Takagi’s novel reveals the history of tattooing in Japan, and whether or not it was seen as a mark of shame or defiance. This is a story of an unusual murder, and a “stolen” tattoo.
And for something a little on the lighter side, try the “Tattoo Shop Mystery” series starring Brett Kavanaugh as a tattoo artist and owner of the Las Vegas tattoo shop, The Painted Lady, who solves murders and catches killers in her spare time. With titles like The Missing Ink and Pretty in Ink, how can you resist?
And in case nothing about tattoos appeals to you, I offer you this recommendation for The Face and Lightning, both by Dean R. Koontz. His writing is mesmerizing and chilling, but all in a good way. Kind of like the experience of getting a tattoo.