11 Highly Literary Tote Bags
The ultimate status symbol for the well-read
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
Move over Hermès, the humble canvas tote bag is now the new prestige bag. For better or for worse, the tote bag is the new cultural touchstone, imbued with social significance that subtly reveals the lifestyle, status, and cultural capital of the wearer. I scoured Instagram and found these 11 literary tote bags that convey intellectual cachet and effortless chic.
The New Yorker
The original status symbol ubiquitous amongst the intellectual gentry of society who use this simple canvas bag to carry their organic, non-GMO avocados home from Whole Foods while making a conscientious effort to surreptitiously recycle the never read stack of the New Yorker magazines.
London Review of Books
This high-brow literary publication is the unlikely brand behind the cult “it bags” coveted by young Koreans. Only available in LRB’s London bookstore, this blue canvas bag is so popular that there’s even a trending Instagram hashtag (#런던리뷰오브북스에코백) of chicly dressed Koreans casually slinging their new fashion accessory over their shoulders.
“I would prefer not to” is a famous line written by which great American author? Hint: He’s a dead white man who has a thing for whales. If you can’t guess the answer, you probably should not be carrying this bag.
Shakespeare and Company
Have you really been to Paris if you don’t have a selfie with the Eiffel Tower and this silk-screen printed tote bag from legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company?
Nonprofit/bookstore/art space Printed Matter’s $30 tote bag is the perfect gift to annoy the grammar police in your life. Bob from accounting can’t complain about the typos in your email anymore if he’s carrying a bag that says “BOOKS IS POWER”.
Daunt Bookshop’s cloth carryall screams “I was a English Literature major who studied abroad in London for a semester”.
The Strand Bookstore
Visitors inevitably leave this famed New York City bookstore with a literary-themed tote bag emblazoned with The Strand logo to let the world know “hey, I was in New York for a hot second and look how cultured I’ve become.”
We’ve all read enough dead white men for multiple lifetimes.
Do you #ReadToLive? Do you pray to the temple of Joan Didion? Then you must get your hands on this elusive, not-for-sale Joan Didion tote from Lit Hub.
The perfect cloth carryall bags made by “the largest independent, radical publishing house in the English speaking world” for cool, literary socialists who occupy Wall Street and join protests in Washington Square Park.
This publishing imprint has a highly-coveted tote bag that only publishing insiders can procure. Unless you’re the lucky winner of their social media giveaway. Update: The tote bag is now for sale!
Are you a #bookstagrammer who loves celebrity bookclubs? I have good news for you! You can now be the proud owner of a Belletrist tote bag that says “Life’s a beach read”.