Holly Golightly, Anna Karenina and Other Lit Ladies Come Together in ‘Well-Read Women’

by Mary Grace Garis


Remember books?  Before I developed a crippling internet addiction, I was an avid book reader. My trips to Barnes and Nobles actually involved me purchasing something other than a Hazelnut macchiato. It was a magical time. 

Most of all because with each page I’d find literary heroines to look up to, sisters that were bold and intriguing. They had their faults and flaws, but if it didn’t make them more relatable, it at least made for good story-telling.

Picking up Gone With the Wind alone got me through my first two years of college, and awakened my Scarlett O’Hara complex. I’m aware of how problematic that may sound; I just mean I wear a lot of ridiculous hats and marry men for to acquire land.

Anyway, the value of the lit queens are celebrated with the new book, Well-Read Women. It features 50 absolutely stunning water-color portraits by illustrator Samantha Hahn. From nymphets to socialites, each character is truly brought to life with a complimentary, signature quote and we have some previews to prove it.

 WellReadWomen DaisyBuchanan REV-web-square

Most pretentious statement of the day: I feel like people who say The Great Gatsby is their favorite novel are like people who say The Beatles are their favorite band. You understand the appeal and cultural significance, but it sounds lazy. In any case, Daisy Buchanan looks totes gorg here. 

WellReadWomen HesterPrynne-web-square

I think we can all agree that The Scarlet Letter was pretty much unreadable in high school, but Hester Prynne does get credit for being a fierce badass in the face of old school slut-shaming. She would make a good BUST blogger. 

WellReadWomen EstherGreenwood-web-square

Don’t sit here and pretend that you didn’t have a Sylvia Plath obsession in your late teens. I mean, personally I was more into Anne Sexton (second most pretentious statement of the day) but of COURSE I still picked up Plath’s only novel, The Belljar or Going Crazy With Esther Greenwood.

WellReadWomen BlancheDubois-web-square

Recently my friend discussed over cigarettes and gelatos what a sad and fascinating character Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire is. Perhaps I have a penchant for insane girls, but watching her keep her Southern Belle persona together as she descends into madness is equal parts enchanting and heart-breaking.

WellReadWomen Ophelia-web-square

Ophelia from Hamlet is actually my favorite Shakespeare character. Again, it’s probably because of my aforementioned love of crazy ladies. Or maybe it’s because I have a thing for guys who wear all black and have daddy issues. It’s one of the two, but either way, this is stunning. 

WellReadWomen DoloresHaze-web-square

I’m not entirely sure if I feel comfortable with little Dolly Haze’s inclusion on the list, as Nabakov’s Lolita has some pretty distressing subject matter. BUT, it is my second favorite novel, and I think this picture summarizes the whole book in one image quite nicely. Saddle shoes and all. 

WellReadWomen AnnaKarenina-web-square 

I haven’t been able to read Anna Karenina again since Blair Waldorf awkwardly roleplayed as her on Gossip Girl (cringeworthy, to say the least.) But this it lovely, it looks like you could just reach out and pet that fur coat. 

And you get the point, these portraits are totally amaze. You can pre-order the book here, and who knows? Maybe it’ll even inspire you to re-connect with these fabulous characters.

WellReadWomen ScarlettOHara-web-square

Images courtesy of Chronicle Books and Samantha Hahn.

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