August 9, 2016

Got ink? We’ve got appeals!

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.

Alex, Software Engineer

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.

Cheryl, Help Desk and Product Operations Coordinator

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.

Alex's tattoo
Alex's tattoo

Cheryl's tattoo
Cheryl's tattoo


David, Quality Assurance Engineer

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.

Jennie, Metadata Librarian I

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.

David's tattoo
David's tattoo

Jennie's tattoo
Jennie's tattoo


Jennifer, Sales and Marketing Specialist

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?

Kathleen, Graphic Designer

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.

Jennifer's tat
Jennifer's tattoo

Kathleen's tat
Kathleen's tattoo


Krista, Editor/Bibliographer

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).

Leslie, Metadata Librarian II

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).

Krista's tat
Krista's tattoo

Leslie's tat
Leslie's tattoo


Rebecca, NextReads Bibliographer

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!

Suzanne, Metadata Librarian I

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). 

Rebecca's tat
Rebecca's tattoo

Suzanne's tat
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.


** We welcome your feedback on the above article. Please note that all comments will be reviewed by the moderator. Comments with offensive language or otherwise deemed inappropriate by the moderator will not be published. Thank you.

Thanks for your comment!

Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator for approval.

Other EBSCO Sites +

Technology & Services

Discovery & Services