Revenge of the Literary T-Shirt!

People. Love. T-shirts.

In the year and a half or so that I’ve been writing this blog, the most popular post by far has been my round-up of literary t-shirts. In the face of overwhelming demand for shirts that show how bookish and clever you are, I’ve decided to go back to the well. Geeky shirts? Cool shirts? Nostalgia? Jerseys? This list has it all.

Scroll on down for 14 more of the raddest shirts you can get your grubby little mitts on.


Not a Book! from Busted Tees – Might as well start off the list with a shot across the bow of e-readers. Yes, I think devices like the Kindle are very cool. Yes, I think the future of books relies, in part, in embracing digital. Yes, it’s cool to get new releases cheaper than hardcovers. But it’s time to face the fact that, while you’re reading, it’s not a book.


Reading Rainbow from 80s TeesButterfly in the sky / I can go twice as high / Take a look / It’s in a book  / A Reading Rainbow.

When I was a kid, I wanted to do one of those end of episode book reviews SO BAD.


Reading, it’s crazy @ Topatoco – Three shirts in, and we hit the profanity! Topatoco is a wicked cool company – they sell apparel (and books, art and accessories) from a ton of webcomic artists. If you’ve ever looked for gear from Questionable Content, Amazing Superpowers or little gamers, it’s come from Topatoco. The above shirt was designed by K. Beaton (of Hark, a Vagrant!) and, well, really says it all.


Reading is for Awesome People from Nerdy Shirts – Of course, you already knew that. Bonus, double-awesome points for the rainbow.


“Your Skill in Reading Has Increased…” by Jinx – Here’s one for the reading geeks, the video game nerds and the D&D set. I’m used to seeing experience points stack up when I’m playing a pen-and-paper RPG or a video game, and wish I had the same concrete evidence of accomplishment after reading in real life. Seriously, I’d have busted through the level cap years ago from all this book-grinding.


“Computers Will Never Replace Books” @ Popfunk – Is that another swipe at books that aren’t really books? Yeah, I think it is.



Vonnegut from Hip Soul Clothing – So it goes. – *


Well Read by PalmerCash – This shirt is so simple, and I love it so much. It’s a great way to either let everyone know you love books, or at least convincingly fake it. Just be prepared when people start quizzing you to find out how well read you actually are.

Need to fake it? Repeat after me; Deus ex Machina. H.L. Menken. Iambic Pentameter. Polysyndeton.


Out of Print Clothing – I’ve written before about Out of Print clothing, but since they didn’t make it on to my last list I’d like to highlight them once more. All of OoP’s shirt feature iconic covers of classic books – often from out-of-print editions. Not only do they make neato-keen shirts, but each shirt sold means one more book donated to Books for Africa. The above shirt presents Hound of the Baskervilles, but the full Out of Print catalog features about 20 different covers to pick from.


Attack of Literacy @ Threadless – Arguably the kings of the hip small-batch tee business, Threadless has more than a few bookish shirts in their archives. Attack of Literacy is by far my favorite. What a cool, vintage design! And if you want a fun game, just click on through and see how many authors on the shirt you can name. The design is mostly sold out at the moment, but hopefully Threadless’ll print ’em again.


Read a Book from Woot! – Remember: Books don’t take station breaks. Books don’t need satellites or electric power or batteries. Books are there when you need them. Read the shirt. “Read a book.”


Book Jerseys by Novel-T – Like Literary Rags and Out of Print Clothing, Novel-Ts goes right for my heart and yours by making only book-related shirts. The Novel-T shtick is jerseys, with authors split between the US-centric American Canons and the international (and/or still living) National Puncs. I’ve included the shirt of my favorite player/author above, but there are plenty of others – Whitman, Thoreau, Poe, and more – for sale on the site.


“The Book Is Better” at Northshire Books – How could I not include a shirt from Northsire, my favorite bookstore in the world that I don’t work at? “The book is better” is an oft-expressed sentiment from the literati, and I’ve never met an oft-expressed sentiment that couldn’t be finagled on to a t-shirt. Wear it to the theater, and be the envy of all your friends when the movie version of their favorite book sucks.



Fup 19 by Powell’s Books – Fup was the name of a well-read, much loved store cat at Powell’s Books. This shirt, crafted to celebrate both Fup and the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, manages to tell the story of both the cat and the film. The back of the shirt features Fup’s story in the style of the famous opening text crawl, and the front has “Powell’s Books” in a Star Wars font. Buy the shirt, celebrate the tradition of indie bookstore cats, and may the Fup be with you.


3 responses to “Revenge of the Literary T-Shirt!

  1. In my opinion, you’ve presented the topic in a quite thorough yet concise manner, that is genuinely useful when someone wants to get the facts without spending too a lot time searching the Internet and sifting out the noise to discover the answers to their questions.

  2. Hey Josh, this is Randy at HipSoul Clothing… we just noticed you posted our Kurt Vonnegut shirt on your (very cool) blog…

    As advertised on our website… you get a free t-shirt!!!

    Contact us! 😉

  3. WOW, cool shirts, I am in the t-shirt business and wish I was on this level. Hopefully one day I will be.

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