This has been a long, strange journey. We’ve all traveled this road in different ways. Some of us took up bread baking and watched The Tiger King. Some of us obsessively cleaned and organized our houses. Some of us became addicted to TikTok.
What did I do to get through the long days of COVID? I co-founded a makeup challenge group. The Quarantine Cuties was the brainchild of one of my best friends, Samantha, about a month into this unique experience. We invited our friends and family members and encouraged them to participate in weekly makeup challenges.
Some of our favorite topics have been Decades (where we highlighted a different decade each day of the week), Heroes, and most recently Pantone Colors of the Years (where I learned that 2020’s “Classic Blue” is a big gap in my makeup collection). Each participant is encouraged to interpret this challenge however they would like and they share the resulting look with the rest of the group.
As you can imagine, one of my favorite weeks was “Books.” I was so excited to see what books my fellow Cuties were inspired by and how they expressed their love for these books using eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, and mascara. They did not disappoint.
Here are a few of my favorite looks from that particular challenge and what inspired them.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
“Today’s inspiration is another one of those books (this one read in high school) that changed my entire view of the world. Toni Morrison’s entire body of work will do that to you…but this was the first one I was introduced to. It was one of those books that, as a high school senior, I realized I was trusted by my AP English teacher to get a glimpse into a seedier, heartbreaking side of the world in which we lived. I quickly followed Beloved up by Morrison’s The Bluest Eye…and then have since gone on to read all of her books. I’m well overdue for a reread.”
Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
“So, yeah. Read this book. Even if you saw the movie 2ish years ago. Especially if you saw the movie 2ish years ago and wish it gave you some closure. It’s a beautiful story of growing up and first love.”
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Today’s challenge look is inspired by the book I should have chosen to read for summer reading before Junior Year AP English. Instead I read [The] Old Man and the Sea. Mistakes were made.”
Savage Continent by Keith Lowe
“This is a really strange book to use as an inspiration but it’s a really good book, nonfiction that covers a period of history that we pretty much skip through, the part between the end of WWII and the early days of the Cold War. idk about you guys but all the books and textbooks I’ve read are like ‘WWII ended and now we’re scared of the reds’. It picks up at the point where each European nation is liberated and then explains where those governments stood, how they became either US friendly or Soviet and also gives background into how they responded to Nazism, how the civilian population fared, etc.”
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
“The Song of Achilles has been mentioned a few times this week. It’s an amazing read. It’s told from the POV of Patroclus, who is mentioned a few times in the Lliad. It is amazing storytelling that’s intimate and beautiful and longing set against a backdrop that we all know of the Trojan War. This look is partially inspired by the cover yes, but also from the first time Patroclus sees Achilles. He is radiant, glowing, confident, a golden demigod and Patroclus is helplessly in love instantly. That feeling continues throughout the book. I wanted to show off the golden quality of a half god.”
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
“Unlike Elizabeth, I’m not a huge reader. It was a struggle for me to read anything in school or for fun. The first book I enjoyed that was ‘assigned reading’ was Of Mice and Men! So today I look like a Miami Hurricanes fan!”
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
“I was working at a movie theater when the movie came out. I never watched the movie in the theater but the music in the closing credits made me want to read the book. I did eventually see the movie, but I love the book so much more. I took my inspiration from [one] of the characters from the book who was so amazing there was only one person to portray Lady Chablis in the movie…Lady Chablis!!”
Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott
“Ever wanted to read a classic but Black? Try Unforgettable Love by Sophronia Scott. It’s Dangerous Liasons/Cruel Intentions/Valmont but post WWII Harlem. So you get ’40s face with a modern spin.”
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…I present to you the book that divided my book club like no other book has. About half of us absolutely loved this book, and about half was just wrong. The premise here is that the children in a family visit a fortune teller who tells them, one by one, the day they’re going to die. They then live their lives with this information. It’s very Stephen King non-horror-esque.”
Becoming by Michelle Obama
“During her Becoming book tour, I had the pleasure of getting to see Michelle Obama live. It turned out that the boots she was wearing that night went viral…they were SPECTACULAR! So for today’s hero…I’m inspired by the beautiful, talented, funny. genius Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama and the amazing outfit she wore that night when I had the immense honor of sharing the same oxygen as her.”
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
“If you like historical fiction, you need to read this book (and its companion, Between Shades of Grey). It’s (they’re) a WWII story about the Lithuanian people caught in the middle of the Germans and the Soviets. This was my book club pick 2 or 3 months ago and I have since read every Ruta Sepetys book.”
I Am Malala by Malala Yousefzai
“Today my inspiration is Malala (specifically what she’s wearing on the cover of her bestselling book). Very similar color story to the Malala T-shirt by Piccolina that my 7-year-old daughter owns.”
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
“Today’s inspiration comes from of my All Time Top 5 Books! High Fidelity. I saw the movie first and loved and was giddy with excitement when I saw it was based on a book!!! It is also one of those rare times when a movie doesn’t screw up the book. When I was reading this book at work it ended up being an ice breaker for me and a close friend of mine. Turns out we both love the movie. (We can quote line for line and work it into random conversations.) I have since gone on to read most of Nick Hornby’s books and watched a few movies based off his books.”
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
“I went with a super neutral but still interesting look, inspired by the cover of the book that I find completely fascinating, yet I can’t make it through more than a couple pages before I’m absolutely comatose. (I typically only read before bed, and sometimes that means I’m awake entirely too late with an exciting read). I’ve literally been reading this off and on between other books for over two years.”
The Giver by Lois Lowry
“My absolute favorite book is The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was the book that opened my eyes to what books could be. In my 7th grade English class, long after grown ups stopped reading to us, our assistant teacher gathered us all on the carpet in the corner of the classroom and read us The Giver. It was one of those magical moments in my life that changed how I viewed the world. In The Giver, the reader comes to realize that the characters don’t see in color. Their world is blacks and whites and shades of grays. It’s only in the moment where an apple’s red hue briefly becomes viewable by the main character Jonas, that the reader understands the reality of their world. So today’s look is inspired by that moment…black, white, and gray…with glimpses of red.”
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“Today I went with Anne of Green Gables. I loved this series as a kid! In fact my middle name (Anne) my mom said is spelled the way it is partially to be different and partially for the book.”
Fall into Darkness by Christopher Pike
“I devoured all these books in middle school. Remember Me is his best known YA book but Fall Into Darkness was my favorite. I would read a book or two in a weekend. I read all the R.L. Stein books too. When googling for book covers it was easily 80+ books I read.”
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
“Lisa See is a beautiful writer and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is no exception. (My favorite from her library is The Island of Sea Women, but I couldn’t figure out how to interpret that one). This book weaves together the lives of two women – a Chinese ethnic minority woman, and the girl she gave up for adoption as a baby, against the backdrop of the Chinese tea producing industry. If that sounds boring, trust me, it isn’t.”
Honestly, some days, my participation in this group is the only thing keeping me grounded during this unprecedented time. Each morning I wake up and am forced to maintain a routine because I know my friends will be eagerly awaiting today’s look, as I look forward to theirs. We have come to lean on each other over the past eleven months, talking about how this has been a sort-of therapy for some of us. I am so thankful I have this group. Some people wrote entire books while being isolated. Others wrote whole symphonies. I perfected my makeup techniques…and I couldn’t be happier.
If you’re looking to up your own makeup game so you can recreate some of these looks, read this great piece by Book Riot’s Hattie Kennedy.