24 Literary Text Tattoos Inspired by Moving Words From Books

Our favorite stories and poems become part of us in a very personal way. When we find words that explain us, inspire us, and tell our truths, we hold onto them tightly — and sometimes, we want to hold onto 'em forever. That's where tattoos come in: the ultimate permanent accessory. It isn't surprising that so many people have chosen to use their bodies to pay homage to their most-loved words from lit.

I found 24 absolutely beautiful literature-inspired text tattoos, drawn from passages by authors like Harper Lee, Suzanne Collins, Maya Angelou — it's an amazing range. The text comes alive on the canvas of skin: You just have to see it for yourself...like this Shel Silverstein tattoo above!

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!

Image: karmanrh/Instagram

"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,

starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking 

for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking 

in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating 

across the tops of cities contemplating jazz…

Click here to buy

Image: toni_semi_raw/Instagram


"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates

Dorie herself was not very surprised, because a daydreamer is prepared for most things and in a way she had planned even this, though she had not guessed how it would come about.

Click here to buy

Image: thegirlwithbluehair/Instagram

'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

Click here to buy

Image: jlen24/Instagram 

'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll

The Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?”

Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Image: subear/Instagram

'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

Image: superawesometattoos/Instagram

"How Is Your Heart?" by Charles Bukowski

and to walk across the floor

 to an old dresser with a 

 cracked mirror- 

 see myself, ugly,

 grinning at it all. 

 what matters most is

 how well you 

 walk through the

 fire.

Click here to buy

Image: superawesometattoos/Instagram

'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins

Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor

Click here to buy

Image: jessdee_x/Instagram

'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.

Click here to buy

Image: thesallyfoster/Instagram

'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

Atticus said no, it wasn’t that sort of thing, that there were other ways of making people into ghosts.

Image: jorganic/Instagram

'The Dark is Rising' by Susan Cooper

On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift — that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.

Click here to buy

Image: rob_spradlin/Instagram

"Walk Lightly" by J. Patrick Lewis

Make the Earth your companion.
       Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do.
Let the Sky paint her beauty—she is always 
       watching over you.

Image: selenamaed/Instagram

'Hamlet' by Shakespeare

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

Click here to buy

Image:litographs/Instagram 

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Image: nathan_rodrigu3z/Instagram

'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back, ceaselessly into the past.

Click here to buy

Image: christinahummel/Instagram

"Summer and Spring" by William Butler Yeats

We sat under an old thorn-tree
And talked away the night,
Told all that had been said or done
Since first we saw the light,
And when we talked of growing up
Knew that we’d halved a soul
And fell the one in t’other’s arms
That we might make it whole;
Then peter had a murdering look,
For it seemed that he and she
Had spoken of their childish days
Under that very tree.
O what a bursting out there was,
And what a blossoming,
When we had all the summer-time
And she had all the spring!

Image: crippledsocially/Instagram

'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou

Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Click here to buy

Image: lianne347/Instagram

"The Laughing Heart" by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.

Image: jennawilson47/Instagram

'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

Through all the windows I only see infinity.

Click here to buy

Image: _vitriol_/Instagram 

'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. 

Click here to buy

Image: andrearr_/Instagram

'Slaughterhouse-Five' by Kurt Vonnegut

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

Click here to buy

Image: cupcake82/Instagram

'The Gunslinger' by Stephen King

Go then, there are other worlds than these.

Click here to buy

Image:bassistmatt19/Instagram 

Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'

When we grab you by the ankles
Where our mark is to be made
you’ll soon be doing noble work
Although you won’t be paid
When we drive away in secret
You’ll be a volunteer
So don’t scream where we take you;
The world is quiet here.

Click here to buy

Image: _eeish/Instagram

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Elloit

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which in a moment will reverse.

Click here to buy

Image: typhoidandswans/Instagram