Book tattoos come in all shapes and sizes and range in tone and style as well. If you are a book-lover who enjoys diving into a good book more than just about anything else, a book tattoo offers you a way to express yourself and your obsession with reading. Now, the term book tattoo can mean many different things. We take it you are looking for tattoos that have a book as subject matter. But, we urge you to also consider a scene from your favorite book or even a quote.
There is no right or wrong way to go about designing your book tattoo. You can go as big or small as you want and by working with a tattoo artist with a point of view, they can help you realize your vision for your new tattoo. Be sure to think outside the box for the most original and compelling designs that feel personal to you. We’ve rounded up some great book tattoo ideas to get the inspiration flowing. Take a look to discover the right sorts of designs for you.
Micro Book Tattoo with Quill
Micro tattoos are one of the biggest trends today with folks favoring tiny, photorealistic designs like this book tattoo of a stack of books and a quill pen. There is so much detail in this shrunken-down design.
We find an exciting Alice in Wonderland tattoo here with a little book included. This is truly a work of art. There are so many tiny details to the faces on the playing cards to the way the kettle and teacup seem to gleam with light.
Flowers Mark the Spot
One of the most popular types of book tattoos is to have the book open with flowers springing from inside of it. Of all the types of book tattoo designs we found, we saw it replicated again and again. It’s not surprising. It’s a beautiful idea that celebrates our natural world as well as our imagined ones.
Chrysanthemum In a Book
Here’s another example of the flower book tattoos. A chrysanthemum flower looks so dramatic in between those pages. For a more impactful design, go for a big bloom like this over several smaller ones.
A Flower Runs Through Them
In this book tattoo, we find a different sort of design but one that’s not too terribly different from the previous two. A flower appears to grow through three books and emerge in an opened one. It offers more fantasy than the previous two book tattoos with flowers and could be a good fit for you.
Do you need a few things to set you up for an excellent evening spent a home? For this person, it’s a cup of tea, a good book, and their cat. How fun is this! We could also see this working with a glass of wine and any pet out there.
She’s In a Different World
We find a female character here immersed in a book that appears to be transporting her to space. Celestial bodies like planets and stars sparkle around the character’s head. It’s simple yet effective at getting the point across.
Okay! This is one of the more inexplicable book tattoos on the list. We find some hands emerging from underwater to hold open a book. We have no clue what is going on here but we love people that go for unconventional designs for their tattoos. Dance to the beat of your own song, folks.
The Reading Room
We find a little reading nook in this design that finds a bookshelf stacked with books and plants. Does this look like the perfect spot to curl up with a good read or what? This is a rather ambitious design but if you are interested in something similar you could totally scale this down.
A Cute One
If you are not married to the idea of a black tattoo, we encourage you to request colorful inks. They often result in more playful designs that feel more whimsical and less defined. This is just adorable.
A Mini Lewis Carrol Book Tattoo
How handsome is this tiny book? It really is a showcase of talent from the tattoo artist who managed to decorate the face of the book with the tiniest letters you ever will see. If you have a favorite book of all time, consider getting a stylized cover designed for it to make for a great book tattoo.
Watercolor tattoos are wildly popular today and the trend shows no sign of slowing. We find a swirl of pink, purple, and blue seeming to escape from the open book. If you want a book tattoo that expresses the magic of reading, something in this style could be a real winner for you.
The award for cutest book tattoo goes to this little monkey sitting on a stack of books, reading one about bananas. It’s playful and childlike and perfect for anyone who loves wildlife. We can’t get over the character’s little glasses!
Reading by Candlelight
This book tattoo is lodged in between some existing ones but you should see a candle and three books are part of the same design. Reading by candlelight is not recommended but we love the romantic notion behind this design.
Anything flying out of books is a go when it comes to book tattoos. Butterflies are no exception! You could pick your favorite creature to emerge from your book or you could choose a book with a particular character or event that you would like to fall out of the open pages of your book tattoo.
We found this book tattoo to be particularly romantic with its picturesque scenes inside. On the left, we find a snowy Christmas scene. Opposite, there is a lovely setting sun over the sea. Flowers scattered around add beauty and a touch of sweetness to the overall look.
A Straightforward Stack
Do you love traditional tattooing? If so, a simple stack of books like this should appeal to you. Traditional tattoos favor bold lines and colors that create simple shapes. You do not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your tattoo. Go with a classic and you will have a timeless piece.
In this scene, we find a scattering of books littered with black and gold stars. They appear to be leading to a window showcasing a night scene. This was a very unique design that really will have you seeing stars.
The Book Portal
Books can transport us to different worlds so it should come as no surprise that many book tattoos try and express that sentiment. This one is an open book with a portal inside. We think it’s an absolute blast and a clever idea.
A Sense of Humor
“Why You Overthinking? Vol. 9” this book says. It’s a funny book tattoo that anyone with a bit of anxiety can appreciate. Have fun with your design and be sure to inject some humor if you’re not taking yourself too seriously.
A Gothic Stack
A handsome raven sits on top of this darkly tattooed stack of books for a moody and gothic tattoo. The candle on top is a great addition. If you are a fan of horror and gothic horror, something similar to this could be a celebration of the genre you love reading most.
Judge This Book By Its Cover
This flying book tattoo comes with one of the coolest covers of any tattoo on this list. The artist has borrowed design elements from traditional tattooing to create something completely new and fresh.
Here is a really fun that imagines nature taking over a stack of books. A cute frog, some mushrooms, a snail, and other elements all work in harmony to tell this design’s story. What a beautiful idea!
We’re not fans of burning books but we did find this flaming book tattoo to be pretty great. It’s very straightforward without a whole lot of bells and whistles to speak of. We imagine it is likely part of the artist’s flash portfolio.
Dive Right In
Here’s a book tattoo that’s all about diving right into that book. We find a retro swimmer tattooed beautifully with contrasting reds and greens. This style is considered neo-traditional because there are design features that appear to come from traditional tattooing but they are married to newer techniques for a great mix of old and new.
Here’s one of our favorite book tattoos on this list. Botanicals and books are the stars of this one. We really enjoyed the vivid color of the flowers contrasted by the blue clouds that seem to wrap around the main character. Find yourself an artist with an eye for the spectacular and you will walk away with an incredible design.
Similar to the diver book tattoo, this one is doing the reverse. We find a character from the book emerging from it as if they were climbing out of a swimming pool. It’s evocative and visually arresting.
A Light Touch
This book tattoo features some of the sharpest lines of any tattoo on this list. We also think this is likely modeled after those single-line tattoos that are so hot right now. It’s a minimalist take with little extra and that’s what makes it really stand out.
We couldn’t do a tattoo list without at least one skull. The artist shared that the concept here was a “scholar skull.” It’s an interesting idea if not a bit morbid. If you’re in it for the drama, consider popping a skull in your design for something that is wickedly special.
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The Book Angel
How about this offbeat book tattoo? A stack of books appears to be manipulated by a little cherub that has been tattooed in pale blue ink. You won’t find another design like this and that’s what makes it so very special. Being weird pays, folks!
There you go! We hope you feel inspired by these book tattoos and that you found a great idea for your own design. For even more great ideas, keep reading for a list of literary tattoos that readers also really love.
This amazing Harry Potter-inspired tattoo of the Liquid Luck potion has a lot going for it. Take a closer look at the shape in the background. It consists of so many colorful dots! This cute tattoo will make any “Potterhead” jealous.
Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969, is full of anti-war sentiment and themes that resonate to this day. This handsome black and grey tattoo pays homage to the classic novel in a very meaningful way.
A Series of Fortunate Mycelium
Wow! This tattoo is a stunner! A Series of Unfortunate Events is a beloved graphic novel series that follow the Baudelaire children on many adventures. One of these adventures sees Sunny infected by the Medusoid Mycelium, a poisonous mushroom. This amazing tattoo captures the scene perfectly. The only thing missing is the wasabi.
To Be or Not To Be
For your next tattoo, look to Shakespeare for inspiration. While not the most cheery choice for a tattoo, this blade from Hamlet certainly looks cool. We love the dark and dramatic design.
Remember R. L. Stine?
If you were a burgeoning horror in your youth, you couldn’t miss R. L. Stine’s books. He did several series like Goosebumps and Fear Street. The stylized covers of these books were creepy, yet still had the right level of camp to appeal to many young readers. This amazing and big tattoo perfectly captures the spirit of the series.
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe scarred a whole generation of young people who were made to read it in class. The classic spooky poem features “nevermore” repeatedly to build dread and suspense. This tattoo design incredibly combines the actual word, a raven’s claw, and a heart in its grip. We love the smokey purple background that makes the entire design pop.
My Heart Burns There, Too
Stephen King’s It has terrified generations of readers. Chances are if you read this tome, you were too young for it. After the recent movie adaptations, the book and its central villain, Pennywise the Clown, have had a cultural resurgence. This sweet tattoo pays tribute to the novel and manages to convey its horror with the inclusion of a single, red balloon.
When a Rabbit Speaks, You Listen
Watership Down is an English novel that was published in the 1970s. It was controversial at the time of publishing because it featured talking rabbits with their own culture that faced the same issues and struggles as humans do. This tattoo is part of a quote from Black Rabbit who’s also been incorporated into the design.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a wacky classic that’s a favorite of both adults and children. Readers have been entertained by this tale for over 150 years. These cute tattoos pay homage to the classic scene where the protagonist, Alice eats cake to make her grow and drinks a potion to make her shrink. These cute tattoos are very inviting.
Our friend Luna Lovegood sure looked dashing in her special glasses called “spectrespecs.” This black and grey interpretation of the specs looks fantastic. In the words of Luna, “Don’t worry, you’re just as sane as I am.”
Le Petit Prince
Of all the incredible literature coming from France, none has captured the world’s imagination like The Little Prince. Like, Alice in Wonderland, it is enjoyed by both adults and children. This stunning tattoo is framed by a diamond and pictures the Little Prince and the fox. This simple and sweet design is perfect.
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A Poetic Tribute
Ocean Vuong is an incredible emerging literary voice. His collection of poetry Night Sky with Exit Wounds will change you. Further, his recently released novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, is equally impressive. This traditional style tattoo is more than just a quote, it tells you so much about the person’s connection to these powerful works.
A Stack of Books
This person got a stack of books tattooed on them. Okay! Some of the most popular and beloved writers are featured down the spine of each. We don’t how we know this, but we know this tattoo belongs to a librarian.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde asks readers to consider the duality inside themselves. Perhaps that’s why the gothic novel resonates so well and has had a lasting impact around the world. For instance, the comic character, The Hulk is based in part on this premise. This very creepy tattoo perfectly captures the novel and anyone who looks at it knows in an instant what it’s referencing.
In 1963, Maurice Sendak released his masterpiece, the children’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are. The crown that’s been incorporated into this tattoo design is a reference to the protagonist, Max, who wears a bear costume and crown as he adventures with the Wild Things.
Sylvia Plath is one of the most beloved American writers and her influence is undeniable. This woman got Sylvia Plath’s autograph tattooed on her wrist. This simple tattoo is an incredible nod to a pioneering poet.
This incredibly fun watercolor tattoo features two childhood favorites, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Velveteen Rabbit sailing off into the sunset. This inspired design has vivid colors that really put it above the rest.
Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane
Beloved British nanny, Mary Poppins, became a popular children’s book character in 1934. The beloved series sees Mary Poppins performing all sorts of magic after she’s blown in by the “east wind.” This wonderful design shows the nanny’s magical, bottomless bag. This very crisp and clean tattoo looks as classy as Mary herself.
There’s nothing better than curling up with a hot cup of tea and cracking open a book. This black and grey tattoo manages to convey the calming act of reading in a single design.
It Will Make You Cry Every Single Time
Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is a beloved children’s picture book that’s turning 55 years old this year. The heartbreaking story of a tree that gives, and gives, and gives still resonates today. This tattoo captures some of the original illustration’s charm while putting a creative spin on it.
And It Does
One simple phrase, “So it goes,” written by Kurt Vonnegut and used again and again in Slaughterhouse-Five, is emblematic of the writer and his ethos. This amazing tattoo captures so much of Vonnegut, not merely because there’s a caricature, but also the quote, and the signature asterisk. It’s one of the best designs on this list.
A Gorey Scene
Edward Gorey illustrated a number of books and many consider his ink drawings serious works of art. One of the most creepy and hilarious is The Gashlycrumb Tinies: A Very Good Alphabet Book. This tattoo looks like it’s ripped from one of the pages.
Mist & Fury
Fantasy writer Sarah J. Maas has a devoted following. This geometric water tattoo references imagery found in The Court of Mist and Fury. We love the cool color scheme that escapes the circular frame and does, indeed, look like mist.
Harry Potter fans cannot stay out of a tattoo parlor! This tattoo incorporates a quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and a line drawing of Hogwarts. The watercolor heart is a bit, much but it is a touching scene between Harry and someone special to him (no spoilers, okay!).
You Thought Your Mornings Were Tough
Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis tells the story of a salesman who wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect. We’ve all been there. This amazing tattoo shows the insect with the shadow of his former self.
A Genius Tattoo
This hilarious and 100% honest tattoo is any book lover’s dream. So often books are adapted into movies and when they are they lose many of the things that make the stories special. It’s almost become a cliche to say it, but where’s the lie?
All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter
People really have a lasting fascination and love with J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series. This quote has been pulled from a poem the author included in the series. The tattoo artist has done an incredible job recreating a type-print style lettering for this tattoo.
The White Album
Joan Didion is one of America’s all-time best cultural critics and essayists. This quote carries such power because it contains so much truth about storytelling and why we do it. This tattoo of the quote is expertly done and we bet it looks even sharper after it heals.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda recently turned thirty and it’s hard to believe that the timeless children’s novel hasn’t been with us longer. This gorgeous tattoo of Matilda sitting on a stack of books is both charming and beautiful.
A Lover Not a Fighter
The Story of Ferdinand is an illustrated children’s book that tells the story of a bull who prefers to smell flowers than fight. It was first published in 1936 and still very resonant today. This tattoo captures the final scene of the book and looks very close to the original illustration.
The fantasy novel The Last Unicorn is an incredibly important work of fiction that many readers took to heart. We’ve all felt a sense of wanting to find our place in the world which makes the theme of the book universal.
Jane Austen Would Approve
This Jane Austen inspired sleeve is everything! Inspired by Pride and Prejudice, there’s so much artistry and care that went into this tattoo’s design. We love the hand holding the book and you can imagine it belongs to Elizabeth Bennet. This is how it’s done.
More than a Stuffed Toy
Calvin and Hobbes was a daily comic strip and a series of books. The characters have been used in textbooks and as teaching materials for children. We love these guys and this tattoo is a wonderful tribute to them.
This tattoo of a fig is a reference to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Plath wrote: “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.”
We love the design of this tattoo with its geometric center and bright, blue-green leaves it tells a story of its own.
Here’s another Sylvia Plath-inspired tattoo that incorporates figs. This time, they’re collected inside the bell jar. This is a truly beautiful tattoo that showcases the underlying themes of The Bell Jar in its design.
Margaret Atwood has been an inspiration to so many over the years. Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, and her newest, The Testaments, are already classics. This tattoo of a Handmaid is stunning. The vibrant red color invokes the horror of the original novel, while the circular lines around her head give us hope about what’s underneath the austere costume.
Book-inspired tattoos are a way to show your love for your favorite writers, characters, and literary themes. Reading is such a personal experience which can make it difficult to express how deeply a book has affected us. Tattoos are the perfect way to use art and design to craft a message that’s easily understood. We love these literary tattoos and would love to see even more.
- 0.1 Micro Book Tattoo with Quill
- 0.2 Oh, Alice
- 0.3 Flowers Mark the Spot
- 0.4 Chrysanthemum In a Book
- 0.5 A Flower Runs Through Them
- 0.6 The Checklist
- 0.7 She’s In a Different World
- 0.8 Under Water
- 0.9 The Reading Room
- 0.10 A Cute One
- 0.11 A Mini Lewis Carrol Book Tattoo
- 0.12 Dreamy Watercolor
- 0.13 Monkey Business
- 0.14 Reading by Candlelight
- 0.15 Butterfly Escape
- 0.16 Romance
- 0.17 A Straightforward Stack
- 0.18 Seeing Stars
- 0.19 The Book Portal
- 0.20 A Sense of Humor
- 0.21 A Gothic Stack
- 0.22 Judge This Book By Its Cover
- 0.23 Getting Wild
- 0.24 On Fire
- 0.25 Dive Right In
- 0.26 The Fantasy
- 0.27 Emerge
- 0.28 A Light Touch
- 0.29 The Scholar
- 0.30 The Book Angel
- 1 Feeling Lucky
- 2 For Billy
- 3 A Series of Fortunate Mycelium
- 4 To Be or Not To Be
- 5 Remember R. L. Stine?
- 6 Poe Though
- 7 My Heart Burns There, Too
- 8 When a Rabbit Speaks, You Listen
- 9 Down the Rabbit Hole
- 10 Spectrespecs!
- 11 Le Petit Prince
- 12 A Poetic Tribute
- 13 A Stack of Books
- 14 Double Trouble
- 15 For Max
- 16 Lady Lazarus
- 17 A Mashup
- 18 Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane
- 19 Curl Up
- 20 It Will Make You Cry Every Single Time
- 21 And It Does
- 22 A Gorey Scene
- 23 Mist & Fury
- 24 Deathly Hallows
- 25 You Thought Your Mornings Were Tough
- 26 A Genius Tattoo
- 27 All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter
- 28 The White Album
- 29 Matilda
- 30 A Lover Not a Fighter
- 31 The Unicorn
- 32 Jane Austen Would Approve
- 33 More than a Stuffed Toy
- 34 A Fig
- 35 More Figs
- 36 The Handmaid
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