Lavish fashions and Russian literary heroines go hand-in-hand, so it’s not surprising that some readers relish the opportunity to indulge in both. Art and fashion writer Celina Colby, 22, weaves the two into her blog, Trends and Tolstoy, where she documents what’s in her closet and on her bookshelf. A New Hampshire native, Colby graduated from Emerson College last December and tracks her adventures on Instagram @trendsandtolstoy.
Q. How did you start blogging?
A. I’ve been blogging for 4½ years now. I had been following a lot of style blogs for years, and when I decided to make one of my own, I knew I had to do it differently. I wanted to bring in my love of literature because I think women who read and are academic are undervalued in the fashion department.
I’m trying to appeal to the stylish intellectual I see myself as, and I know a lot of us are. The women who are trendy and fashionable and also read the newspaper.
Q. Do you have any literary fashion icons?
A. I have separate icons for each one, I guess, but when you look at someone like Audrey Hepburn, she was reading all the time. I hate to say it, and maybe it’s a generational thing, but a lot of the old movie stars always appeared to be more intellectually active.
Q. Where would you direct a classic lit newbie?
A. My passion is 19th-century Russian literature. I’ve done a few articles on the blog on where to start. I’d say begin with “Crime and Punishment,” some of Tolstoy’s short stories, and plays by Chekhov.
Q. Do you have a favorite?
A. It’s like choosing between my children. This is really cliche, but “Lolita” [Nabokov] is one of my all-time favorites. The writing is so beautiful. Then “Crime and Punishment” [Dostoyev-sky], because psychological penetration is such a signature Russian lit move.
Q. What’s your advice for readers who are intimidated to start?
A. I think it helps to have someone else to talk to about it, but the shorter stories are very witty and entertaining. Russian lit isn’t for everyone, but it also depends on what translation that you pick. I prefer the older translations. There’s a husband and wife duo (Aylmer and Louise Maude) who worked directly with Tolstoy, but the newer translations might be easier for an intimidated reader.
Q. What are you reading now?
A. I’m interested in everything, so my reading habits are all over the place. I’ll read art theory and then Tim Gunn’s bio. Right now, I’m reading “Black Mass” because I wanted to compare it to the movie.
Q. What should be on every college student’s reading list this semester?
A. Read the new Harper Lee book and compare it to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” You can see what she cut and changed and it gives you a writer’s perspective on things.
And they should read “Lolita,” because I want to make their lives difficult. (Laughs) And anything by Junot Díaz. I’m obsessed with him. I hope he reads this.
Interview was edited and condensed. Rachel Raczka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.