The Russian Lit Cheat Sheet


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Despite the blog’s name I rarely ever discuss books on here. I get that people want the quick content, the pretty pictures and the outfit inspiration. I also get that almost no one wants to hear me gush about dense Russian novels. But it’s been four years and I think it’s high time we bring books into this equation, at least once. So here, my friends, is the Russian lit starter kit. A helpful mini guide to what authors and books to know and where to start.

fortheloveofbooksThe Authors

Leo Tolstoy – Perhaps the most well known Russian author, Tolstoy is famous for his incredibly long books (hello, 1,500 pages) that can contain upwards of 500 characters.
Works to know: Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Fyodor Dostoevsky - The second giant in the set, Dostoevsky wrote smaller novels prone to focus on one or two central characters. He’s most well known for his penetrating psychological portraits.
Works to know: Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Notes from the Underground

Nikolai Gogol –  Often deemed the Father of Russian Realism and the first great Russian novelist, Gogol is best known for his comic and often biting satire of Russian life and government. His style incorporates romantic and grotesque aspects as well. Technically he’s Ukranian but the Russians claim his their own.
Works to know: Dead Souls, The Overcoat, The Government Inspector

Ivan Turgenev - Best known for his short stories and essays, Turgenev depicts country life in Russia more simplistically than his cohorts. He’s also known for his rigid moral compass which makes its way into many of his works.
Works to know: Fathers and Sons, Smoke, Sportsman’s Sketches

Anton Chekhov – Many consider Chekhov to be one of the greatest short story writers in history, though he’s also praised for his plays. He was one of the three playwrights responsible for the birth of modern theater.
Works to know: Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull

Vladimir Nabokov - Although Nabokov came much later, he’s every bit as important as the others. Most famous for his controversial novel Lolita, Nabokov is heralded for his beautiful use of language and fluid style.
Works to know: Lolita, Ada or Ardor, Pale Fire

The Books

Crime and Punishment – I recommend this to everyone who wants to get into Russian literature. It’s less imposing than some of Tolstoy’s works and it has an intriguing plot line, but it’s a great representation of the depth of a Russian novel.

Anna Karenina – Anna is best for those looking for a powerful and complicated, but extremely gratifying story. It’s long and at times very painful but so beautifully written that it’s worth it.

War and Peace – Most people read War and Peace as a challenge. I see it as a good way to learn about Russian culture and history in the nineteenth century (even Napoleon makes a debut). It’s fiction, but it gives a great sense of the country.

Lolita – This is one of my personal favorites and I recommend it to everyone with a love of language. The story may be morally murky but you just can’t beat Nabokov’s prose. If you enjoy Lolita, read Laughter in the Dark which I see as a precursor to Lo.

The Overcoat – Here Gogol is not only critiquing Russian bureaucracy, but questioning the very point of human existence. I recommend this one to intellectuals looking for a thought provoking and humorous read.

Naturally, these recommendations are coming from my personal biases, and I can’t even begin to cover all of the wonderful writers who have come out of Russia. But this is the basic rundown that I give Russian lit newbies, the big names, the big texts, and my personal favorites.

Have you tried out any of the Russians?

Photo is mine.

Magenta & Macarons


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As the weather starts to warm up I’m turning to brighter colors and more outfit options. Recently I wore this magenta maxi that I purchased in Paris. (It’s actually made for a little girl, cheers to being child-size!) It is still March so I paired the light crepe skirt with a grey pullover and boots for some extra warmth. My boldest statement necklace and some matching macarons completed the look.





magentaandmacaronsSkirt: Purchased in Paris, Sweater: H&M, Boots: c/o OASAP, Necklace: H&M, Ring: Handmade

Photos by Rebecca Isenhart.



Sunday Snapshots


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sundaysnapshotscollage3292015From left to right: 1) My favorite dog/person/snuggle buddy. 2) Prepping for another weekend adventure. 3) The latest addition to my reading nook (thanks, Mom!). 4) Harriet the Spy is back in action. 5) Current mood. Scratch that, constant mood. 6) Rise and shine everyone, it’s Sunday.

Business as Usual


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We don’t have a strict dress code at my office, so I typically wear my usual eccentric ensembles. But once in a while I pull out a semi-professional outfit. This look is as comfortable as it is pulled together. The boyfriend blazer is a soft knit (so basically like wearing PJs) and the sweater underneath adds extra warmth. The necklace and heels give it the look some fun.

businessasusualSide note, my hair is finally long enough to do my sock bun again and I could not be more happy.




businessasusual3Blazer: LOFT, Sweater: H&M, Pants: Forever21, Necklace: c/o Kendra Scott, Shoes: Shoedazzle

Photos by Jamie Ditaranto.

One More Day


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We’re at that time of the year when I’m always thinking “Just one more week until spring. Just one more weekend. Just one more day.” Boston is fickle in March and we can easily go from 50 and sunny to two feet of snow. But I keep my fingers crossed that it’ll be here in just one more day.

onemoredayThis jacket is a great transitional piece. It’s lighter than my usual coat but still warm enough to ward off a sudden chill. The gorgeous pastel color screams spring and every day I feel like it looks a little more at home.



onemoreday4Jacket: Old Navy, Pants: Forever21, Shoes: Shoedazzle, Sweater: Forever21, Necklace: c/o Kendra Scott, Rings: c/o Trendy Jewels

Photos by Jamie Ditaranto.

Seeing Spots


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Once in a while I have to step away from the trendy and get back to the classic. The other day Boston hit the 50 degree mark and to celebrate I put on a retro polka dot dress and a classic trench. But it wouldn’t be a Celina outfit without a little something extra, so I added a vintage crinoline underneath the dress for some extra volume.


seeingspots5I think this is actually a child’s crinoline but it works great for giving my party dresses a little extra oomph. I may love my leather and my studs, but nothing beats spinning around in a poofy dress.



seeingspots3Dress: Forever21, Trench: H&M, Shoes: Franco Sarto, Bracelets: c/o Kendra Scott

Photos by Jamie Ditaranto.

Sunday Snapshots


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sundaysnapshotscollage3222015From left to right: 1) Definitely needed a double shot of coffee for this long week. 2) They said bowties are for boys, I said nice try. 3) Starting my day off with a workout and green juice (who am I?). 4) A few of my favorite things. 5) An adorable note from my coworker after I finished my May/June column. 6) Had a great meeting with a new advertiser, stay tuned for details.