For Book Lovers, an Amusing Game

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

For Book Lovers, an Amusing Game

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.”


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. 


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How Moscow’s Anti-War March Revealed One of Russia’s Deepest Divides

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 7:46 PM Azealia Banks’ New Single Is Her Best in Years
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.