The Flavorpill Guide to DIY Pop-Culture Halloween Costumes: Books


Halloween: It’s always more complicated than you want it to be. Even if you’ve got your plans set, it’s a struggle to find the perfect costume — without resorting to the same crappy, overpriced, pre-packaged getups everyone else will be wearing. Thankfully, just as we did last October, Flavorpill is helping you out with a series of easy DIY costume guides tackling various pop-culture realms. Don’t worry — there’s no sewing involved.

In our newest installment (we’ve already tackled music, art, and film!), channel your inner nerd with our selection of literary costumes. You may choose from some of the year’s most iconic author looks, a few our favorite literary characters new and old, or even learn how to turn yourself into one of the most talked-about books of the season. Trust us, you won’t even think about staying home to read on Halloween night with these costumes at your fingertips — but get ready to explain yourself to a lot of girls dressed like Snooki.

Jeffrey Eugenides on his Times Square billboard

Swoon-worthy indeed. The book world was aflutter with confusion and titillation a few weeks ago when this sexy billboard promoting Jeffrey Eugenides’ new novel The Marriage Plot went up in Times Square. Since when have literary authors gotten billboards? No matter, we totally dig it, and we think it’s the perfect costume choice for any nerdy but sensitive writers looking to get a little love on Halloween night. After all, he is a ladyexpert.

The costume:

Purple floral button down shirt (oh yes, we know it’s purple) — Nordstrom, $110

Tony Stark facial hair kit (you’ll only have to cut it a little bit) — Linens ‘n’ Things, $19

Black vest (note, Eugenides’ vest has its own Twitter handle… do with that what you will) — JC Penney, $35

Straight leg blue jeans — Uniqlo, $10

A bunch of friends to stand around you yelling accolades, preferably dressed in yellow — depends on how popular you are.


If you’re heart is set on sporting a literary costume this year, why not go for the season’s most talked about new novel? Plus, the English translation of Haruki Murakami’s doorstop 1Q84 hits bookshelves October 25, just in time for you to carry a copy of it around with you on Halloween to show your less erudite friends the inspiration for your costume. The actual design of the book’s cover is a little more complicated, but we think this will get the point across with minimal muss. Just cut the “1Q84” out of your vellum paper, write in the text and slap on a fan stick as a handle, and you’ll have a demure, literary disguise for any masked balls you might be attending.

The costume:

Translucent vellum paper — Amazon, $10

Wooden fan sticks — Amazon, $10

White hoodie — Hanes, $14

NARS Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Coeur Sucré — Sephora, $26

Black sharpie (to write in the text) — Staples, $2

Scissors (to cut out the symbols) and tape (to attach the handle) — we assume you have these somewhere in your home. If not, you might have other problems.

Jon Snow

Jon is one of the more well loved — and most recognizable — characters from George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular Game of Thrones series. An outsider all of his life, Jon proves his worth defending the realm, his trusty white direwolf Ghost (see, he’s even Halloween-themed) at his side. If you are an epically emo lone wolf looking to disappear into the shadows this All Hallow’s Eve, this is the costume for you.

The costume:

Faux-fur stole (you don’t want any red paint on your costume) — Amazon, $24

Black cloak — Costume Super Center, $27

Black clothing — if you’re dressing up as Jon Snow for Halloween, you probably already have enough of this in your closet to pass.

Black hunk wig — Linens ‘n’ Things, $29

Casual scruff — a few days should do it.

The obligatory white wolf — rather than carry around a stuffed white wolf and call it Ghost, we suggest you adopt a real wolf. Then you can (most likely accurately) tell everyone he’s off hunting.

Optional: Black framed glasses (if you want to go the extra mile and channel the Hipster Jon Snow meme) — Amazon, $7

Miranda July

The crowd is split on Miranda July. Half the film-going, book-reading public thinks of her as a talented, earnest and charmingly off-beat artist while the other scorns her as the worst example of bourgeois, precious hipsterdom — and her recent film and upcoming book have only fanned the flames on either side. So if you want a polarizing (and comfortable) costume this year and don’t want to be one in a sea of lazy Occupy Wall Street protesters, we suggest you go for July. Just make sure to channel your inner Manic Pixie Dream Girl and drop hints about your talking cat wherever you go.

The costume:

Black hunk wig — Linens ‘n’ Things, $29 (yep, it’s the same as Jon Snow’s. A perfect investment if you have several parties to attend)

Poet blouse — Nordstrom, $198

Black skinny jeans — Levi’s, $68

Knit tie (you’ll have to rip off the end yourself) — Etsy, $35

Zombie Borders Employee

This year, the literary community mourned the passing of Borders as the high-profile bookstore chain declared bankruptcy and ultimately tumbled beneath the swollen Barnes & Noble’s tutelage. For all the talk of the bookstores’ fall, we heard little of the fates of their employees, some of whom (we imagine, in our weird costume logic) were valiant enough to go down with the ship. But with such a harsh end, and so many books left unsold, could they rest easy? No, dear reader, no! They will stagger after customers until the sun comes up on November. This costume choice is topical and hip — after all, zombies are so hot right now. Haven’t you heard?

The costume:

Employee lanyard — Lanyard Store, about $3

Construction paper and markers to make nametag — your local drug store, about $5

Deluxe Zombie Makeup Kit — Amazon, $19

Optional: A make-your-own #Occupy Wall Street sign, or just steal from the one above. Use the construction paper left over from your nametag.

Captain Ahab

Man, Moby Dick just never seems to go out of style. Maybe that’s because, as Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the upcoming book Why Read Moby Dick says, “it’s as close to being our American Bible as we have.” That’s right — all the real Americans will be going as Captain Ahab this Halloween.

The costume:

Whale bone peg leg — The Iron Hook, $375

Billowy white pajama pants — Bare Necessities, $76

Double breasted pea coat — JC Penney, $99

Intense rage and megalomania — this you must find inside yourself.

Tina Fey on the cover of Bossypants

Everyone’s favorite comedienne came out with her much-anticipated memoir this year, and just about everyone we know did a wait-a-minute double take the first time they saw the cover. Hilarious and deeply unsettling all at once, we think it makes for a pretty Halloween-appropriate ensemble. If you rock this look half as well as Tina, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be the life of the party.

Black bowler —, $38

White button down shirt — Uniqlo, $40

Striped tie — Ties-Necktie, $15

Watch — Target, $13

Muscle man arms — Amazon, $24

Sharpie (for drawing in arm hair) — Staples, $1.49

Jonathan Franzen

Franzen is the ultimate literary Halloween costume for the lazy man (or woman). All you have to do is get your hands on a pair of those iconic peepers and start looking as troubled (or as untroubled) as the first living American novelist to appear on a Time cover in a decade should be.

Black framed glasses — Amazon, $4

A list of complaints/accusations about David Foster Wallace — the internets, free

A wiffle bat to beat off fans of David Foster Wallace who object/don’t find the talk as affectionate as you do — Sears, $13

Whatever else you have on.