August 9, 2016
The NoveList Book Squad is always on the lookout for inventive readers' advisory opportunities. When we heard about Multnomah County Library's #books4tats campaign, we shared a collective "oooooh!" of appreciation -- and decided to try some tattoo-based RA of our own.
Staff volunteers shared their ink, and we used NoveList's distinctive appeal terms to pitch some intriguing reading recs based on the individual tattoo. Keep scrolling to check 'em out.
Appeals: moving, thought-provoking, strong sense of place, inspiring, reflective
Recommendation: For Alex's tattoo, we recommend All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. This book has deep roots and a reflective style like the tree pictured, and its dialect-filled, lyrical writing evokes both the beauty and the hardship of the writer's life growing up poor in rural Alabama.
Appeals: feel-good, whimsical, upbeat, inspiring, world-building, LGBTQIA diverse (character appeal), mischievous (character appeal)
Recommendation: While we see plenty of appeals here, it's hard to ignore the literary and cultural references in Cheryl's Potter-ific tattoo. We decided that the clear recommendation is Carry On, Rainbow Rowell's Harry Potter-inspired YA fantasy featuring a charming same-sex romance and some unusual magical wings.
Appeals: gruesome, creepy, mystical, violent, complex, high drama, nightmarish (illustration appeal), detailed (illustration appeal)
Recommendation: David's evocative tattoo prompts an appropriately eerie recommendation: Keith Donohue's The Boy Who Drew Monsters is an intricate and atmospheric horror story of a boy whose creepy artwork seems to manifest in the real world.
Appeals: whimsical, darkly humorous, offbeat, quiet, quirky (character appeal), detailed (illustration appeal)
Recommendation: As we did with Cheryl, we have to combine the appeals of Jennie's literary tattoos with our knowledge of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. That naturally leads us to Roald Dahl's Matilda, a whimsical children's fantasy in which kids triumph over outrageously evil adults.
Appeals: spare, attention-grabbing, wordplay-filled, offbeat, quirky (character appeal)
Recommendation: Insider knowledge gives us an edge in this case. We happen to know that Jennifer's tattoo is part of Shelley Jackson's Skin project – so why not recommend Jackson's Half Life, a dark fantasy about conjoined twins that's offbeat, stylistically complex, and filled with inventive wordplay?
Appeals: intricately plotted, whimsical, stylistically complex, richly detailed, thoughtful, atmospheric, engaging, introspective (character appeal)
Recommendation: Intricately plotted, unconventional, and stylistically complex, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves seems like an apt match here. The house in the book proves maze-like and limitless inside, while the book itself nests stories within frames-within-frames.
Appeals: spare, romantic, feel-good, heartwarming, authentic (character appeal), simple (illustration appeal)
Recommendation: For Krista's tattoo, our heartfelt recommendation (pun most definitely intended) is David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary, a spare yet romantic look at a changing relationship (featuring simple, heart-shaped cover art).
Appeals: whimsical, heartwarming, mystical, inspiring, lyrical, amusing, hopeful, spirited (character appeal)
Recommendation: There's a lot to ponder in Leslie's tattoo, and while we considered several lyrical, hopeful reads for adults, we just have to go with The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A.N. Kang, a whimsical picture book about a flying cat named "Papillon" (French for butterfly).
Appeals: world-building, spare, thought-provoking, nostalgic, black & white (illustration), strong female (character appeal), large cast of characters (character appeal)
Recommendation: When it comes to my own tattoo (that's me on the far right), my colleagues suggest Bone Gap, Laura Ruby's magical realist YA novel featuring multiple perspectives, feminist themes, and atmospheric world-building. Also, bees!
Appeals: intricately plotted, homespun, wordplay-filled, leisurely paced, twisted, whimsical, witty, strong female (character appeal), delicate (illustration appeal)
Recommendation: For this crafty multilayered design, we suggest Margaret Drabble's The Seven Sisters. It's a witty literary novel featuring a strong female character, a focus on women's lives, and a major plot twist (not unlike Suzanne's tattoo).
Will our colleagues be pleased with our picks? Time will tell. Do you have any RA innovations at your library? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Rebecca Honeycutt is a NextReads Bibliographer at NoveList.