For Book Lovers, an Amusing Game

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 1 2012 1:45 PM

For Book Lovers, an Amusing Game

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On Twitter, a few clever hashtags

Photo by FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

In New York Times headlines, a trend. For grammarians who yearn for varied sentence structure, a headache. And now, for book lovers—and really anyone with a sense of humor—a funny hashtag.

Robinson Meyer (@yayitsrob) and Nick Castele (@NickCastele) were surely not the first to notice that the Gray Lady loves to open its headlines with a preposition. But their twitter account, @NYTPrepositions, leverages that observation into viral hilarity, rounding up examples like “In This Corner, A Much Needed Distraction” and “Under One Picasso, Another.”

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This morning, the feed spawned a hashtag, #nytbooks, that sends famous titles through the NYT syntacto-meter. In place of The Cat in the Hat, meet In a Hat, a Cat. Looking for a Southern picaresque novel about a guy who lives with his parents? We recommend Of Dunces, a Confederacy. A few other gems include:

Not all the (many, many) entries have fit the criteria perfectly, of course—some just rearrange a title’s word order in an amusing way (prompting Jess Zimmerman to complain, “The #nytbooks jokes…that confuse NYT with Yoda are weirdly irksome” ). But we were gratified to see some self-help selections (For Dummies, Windows) along with the literary classics (From Atlas, A Shrug) and children’s fare (At the End of This Book, A Monster). We also enjoyed the hashtag’s inevitable offshoot, #nypostbooks, which features treasures like AHAB NABBED IN WHALE FAIL and GODOT NO-SHOW.  

But will the madness end here, or will authors start to take note? Should we tell Hanna Rosin to re-release her book as Of Men, the End?* Or can we just summarize this craze by saying, “Before election, bookworms blow off steam?”

*On November 1, 2012, a correction: This post originally misspelled the first name of Hanna Rosin. 

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

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