Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: "Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories Behind Them"

"Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories Behind Them" by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy McNaughton
First published in 2014
144 pages
My rating: 5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

I spotted this awesome little book while processing new materials at the library. I'm fascinated by tattoos, and I frequently find myself trying to decipher all the images on that guy's arm sleeve or staring at some girl's foot, attempting to make out the script inked there. Out to eat a few months ago, I saw a husband and father with his entire face completely tattooed and I desperately wanted to ask him about it -- and get a closer look at what images he deemed important enough to become his new visage. So after a co-worker raved about "Pen & Ink," I knew I needed to bring it home with me!

It's everything you'd think it would be from looking at the cover -- a drawing of the tattoo on one page and the owner's explanation of the ink on the facing page. The authors compiled tattoo stories from a wide variety of people, from writers and musicians to average joes. Cheryl Strayed, author of "Wild," penned the introduction and also has an entry in the book.

Some of the stories are serious, some are lighthearted, some are mementos and some consist mainly of "I was drunk one night..." But they're all interesting! And I absolutely loved that the tattoos were drawn rather than photographed. That facet really made the book for me. Whether you're a tattoo enthusiast or you just wonder what on earth would persuade someone to permanently add a picture of a pizza to his body, this is the book for you. It's short, sweet and fun, and it was perfect to read on my breaks at work.

Do you have a tattoo? Why did you get it? What's your story? Here's mine!

I got this star tattoo my freshman year of college while visiting my best friend at her university over spring break. I was going through a rebellious phase, and in the previous six months had gotten a nose ring and a belly-button piercing. I've had my star for over 10 years and I still love it because it reminds me of when I was young and spontaneous, enjoying my first taste of freedom. I've gotten more conservative with age and I'm happy I have a little reminder of my wild side.

I've been pondering another tattoo for a while now, but I'm still searching for that perfect image. It needs to have more meaning and significance than my star. I've thought about a single word, a mini version of Conan's pawprint, or something like mountains or a sea turtle that would reflect my love of nature and the places I've lived. And there're always literary tattoos to consider as well. I'm also torn on the placement. I'm very drawn to the idea of a tattoo on my inner wrist, but my forearm is one of the few areas of my body that's still creamy white, smooth and completely unblemished. The tattoo would have to be something really important to me to be placed in such a spot of honor! Whenever I do get another tattoo, you'll be the first to know! ;)

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