From renowned literary legends to childhood comfort authors, spicy romance novelists who feed your guilty pleasure or poets whose words linger in your mind long after that high school English class, authors have had a lasting impact on you one way or another.
Since the time of the first author—said to be Enheduanna, a princess, priestess and poet from 2300 BCE Mesopotamia—an unfathomable number of authors have shaped the course of literature and history. Many novels have persuaded entire populations to demand change in the world, from critiquing capitalist evils in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to exposing the dangers of totalitarianism in George Orwell’s “1984.” Writers often carry the unenviable task of exposing societal ills too disturbing and complex for most people to put into words.
A novel doesn’t have to change the world to profoundly affect a person. There’s nothing quite like reading a novel that resonates with you on a personal level. There’s a thrill that comes with feeling seen by an author, or having a feeling explained in a way you’ve never been able to articulate, and something endlessly powerful about having your entire world shifted by a simple string of words on a page. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” from Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” and “If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more,” from Jane Austen’s “Emma” come to mind.
For me, I can attest that several novels have not only permanently altered the way I read and write, but how I perceive myself and the world. These include Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native,” “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, and “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. I’d also like to throw in the novella “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, which made me feel closer to a giant bug than I ever imagined possible. If we’re going way back, I can credit childhood favorites like Rick Riordon’s entire “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” series, Stephen Chbosky’s “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and Stephenie Meyers’ first “Twilight” book (I never finished the rest) to coloring my formative years.
On that note, November is also National Novel Writing Month. This refers to a challenge in which writers strive to write a novel in only 30 days. The goal is to push writers to stop putting off writing that novel and to just go for it, never knowing what beautiful things might emerge under a time limit. I’m of the mindset that every person has a story to tell. Writing is truly an intimate and solitary process that forces us to confront the deepest truths within ourselves, and there’s nothing more liberating than being able to tell your own story the way you want to and having others reciprocate that vulnerability.
To celebrate the authors who have given us so much with their words, we’ve put together a list of famous author tattoos we can add to our sleeves to carry their wisdom and legacy on with us wherever we go.
“The Sun Also Rises” (1926)
“The Old Man and the Sea” (1952)
“Animal Farm” (1945)
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949)
“Oliver Twist” (1838)
“A Christmas Carol” (1843)
“Pride and Prejudice” (1813)
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
“The Great Gatsby” (2013)
“The Hobbit” (1937)
“The Lord of the Rings” (1954)
“Percy Jackson & the Olympians” Series (2005)
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (1999)
“The Metamorphosis” (1915)
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (1876)
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884)
“The Mysterious Stranger” (1916)
EDGAR ALLEN POE
"The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843)
“The Raven” (1845)
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN
“A Game of Thrones” Series (1996)
“James and the Giant Peach” (1961)
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (1989)
“Romeo and Juliet” (1597)
“The Cat in the Hat” (1957)
“The Lorax” (1971)
“Oh, the Places You'll Go!” (1990)
"One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" (1960)
"Green Eggs and Ham" (1960)