Who says literary fiction writers don't have a sense of humor? Currently trending on Twitter is #RuinAChildrensBook, a hashtag started by Nerdist's late-night game show Midnight on Comedy Central. Midnight, hosted by The Talking Dead's (and formerly MTV's Singled Out) Chris Hardwick, is known for its prolific social media presence, particularly its "Hashtag Wars."
In Hashtag Wars, Hardwick and Midnight announce a clever Twitter hashtag and his guests compete to come up with the best examples. On Twitter, people compete alongside the comedians. Prior categories have included #DrunkFilms ("The King's Slurred Speech"), #CheesyMovies ("As Gouda as it Gets"), and #FoodAthletes ("Ice Cream Abdul Jabbar", "Pad Thai Cobb"). Many of the hashtags have to do with movies and pop culture, but this week, literature got its due.
#RuinAChildrensBook has captured the attention of the literary community — children's publishers, authors, and readers alike — and it's currently trending in the United States. Because it's Twitter, some people didn't quite get the joke, and others were just disgusting, but thousands of people jumped in on the fun with their ideas for undermining the wholesome spirit of our favorite children's and young adult books.
Some Twitter users went for a longer-form title, while others took a political approach:
Others were just, well, mean:
Some amazing people overachieved with redesigned book covers:
And finally, my personal favorites:
Though #RuinAChildrensBook has our attention now, we can't forget the funniest literary hashtags that came before it. Here are eight we'll never forget:
In a similar vein, way back in 2009, literary-minded people were getting into the Twitter games with the hashtag #FailedChildrensBookTitles. Celebs like Mindy Kaling, John Green, and Diablo Cody all got involved.
While the heroes and heroines are out saving the world or going on some sort of personal journey, the characters living in the background are left cleaning up their messes. In 2010, the hastag #BadJobsInNovels gave a shout-out to the unappreciated people living on the sidelines.
#BookDrinks / #Noveltini
The warring hashtags #BookDrinks and #Noveltini both celebrated novels ripe for a boozy rename. And it makes sense, because (stereotype alert!) what do famous authors like more than a good drink? This is where the completely genius "Tequila Mockingbird" first emerged, but it also spawned many other creative puns.
Literary epics feeling annoyingly ambitious? Tired of everything on your self-help book shelf? Doubting whether there has ever been or every will be a Great American Novel? This hashtag elicited titles more your speed.
(Is it bad that the last one made me LOL?)
It's like your favorite Wheel of Fortune category, "Before & After," met your favorite books. In honor of the most decadent, ridiculous Thanksgiving poultry combination, the Twitterverse introduced #LiteraryTurducken.
This one seems benign enough, but don't be fooled. The New York Times loves to play with sentence structure in headlines, causing the men behind the Twitter handle @NYTPrepositions to tweet every headline they see that starts with a preposition — for example, Monday's "For These Monkeys, Mother Knows Best." But in November 2012, inspired by the Twitter handle, people started tweeting their favorite books in NYT's prepositional structure. The results were glorious.
While most literary hashtags involve the entire community, #YoNovelJokes started as a war between two authors. Adam Mansbach, author of the satirical "children's book" Go The Fuck to Sleep, and literary and graphic novelist Mat Johnson took jabs at each other via a silly hashtag inspired by everyone's favorite 1990s insult. The two taunted each other, their books, and a lot more along the way. No author or novel was untouchable during their jab-fest, as they took shots at Jonathan Franzen, Phillip Roth, 1Q84, and The Goldfinch, among others. By the time others caught on, Mansbach and Johnson were in full force, and the only thing to do was sit back and watch.
It's impossible to say who won, so let's just say we all did.