Brow Beat

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:


In the Willows, a Wind

For Omnivores, a Dilemma

From the Goon Squad, a Visit of Sorts

In Brooklyn, a Tree Grows

For Jest, No Apparent End

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.