Picture It: What Would the Golden Girls Read?

Isabelle Popp

Senior Contributor

Isabelle Popp has written all sorts of things, ranging from astrophysics research articles and math tests to crossword puzzles and poetry. These days she's writing romance. When she's not reading or writing, she's probably knitting or scouring used book stores for vintage gothic romance paperbacks. Originally from New York, she's as surprised as anyone that she lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Hyperion Avenue, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide

Containing brand new dessert and drink recipes from Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia, this follow-up to the first The Golden Girls Cookbook will make you feel like you’re relaxing on the lanai or getting set to win the Shady Pines bake-off. Filled with innovative recipes by renowned chef Christopher Styler, and beautiful photos by New York Times food photographer Andrew Scrivani—plus fun quotes, jokes, and photographs from the show--this is a must-have for all fans of The Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls has had incredible staying power as a cultural phenomenon because the characters are truly iconic. The humor holds up surprisingly well, and the show didn’t shy away from a thorny topic, making it incredibly rewatchable. But really, it’s the characters. They’re so well-developed that it’s easy to imagine what they might read. My first instinct is that they all should read Little Women. That’s because I always have fun mapping quartets of characters onto the Little Women. Sophia is Meg, Dorothy is Jo, Rose is Beth, and Blanche is Amy. Kind of perfect, right?

So what else would they read? I paired two books per character, mostly fiction. I’d like to think these characters all have broad tastes as readers, but I endeavored to find the books I think would really be in their wheelhouses. I hope some of these appeal to you, too. Might I suggest taking a “Which Golden Girl are You?” quiz and starting with those selections? I’m a Sophia, apparently. Then you can put on your best fashion jogging suit or opulent, besequined caftan. Cut a slice of cheesecake for yourself. Read out on the lanai. And don’t forget to sing that theme song, because it’s an all-timer, as is the gospel remix.

What Would Sophia Read?

cover of From Scratch by Tembi Locke: a smiling Black woman in a white gown and a white man in a suit pressed up against her side affectionately

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

Is it too obvious to pair Sophia with a memoir about Sicily? It’s not, because she’s so truly invested in the Old Country. This memoir, about a Black American actress who falls in love with a Sicilian chef from a traditional family, is delicious and at times, devastating. Author Tembi Locke lost her husband to cancer, but this richly-told tale of big love, family, and food will make you long to visit Sicily.

cover of the florios of italy

The Florios of Sicily by Stefania Auci

More Sicily? Yes, more Sicily! You know that Sophia would absolutely eat up a historical novel about her homeland. If you love a sweeping family saga like I do, here’s your book. It traces the rise of the Florio family from humble spice shop owners to powerful shipping magnates. This story dramatizes the actual story of the Florio family in all its naked ambition, revenge, and romance.

What Would Dorothy Read?

cover of the kingdom of sand

The Kingdom of Sand by Andrew Holleran

Dorothy is clearly the most serious Golden Girl. As a former English teacher, she’d be into some hard-hitting literature, I’d imagine. A particularly memorable episode of The Golden Girls deals with Rose’s HIV test following a possible exposure, making the show stand out for its inclusion of topical issues. So I think Dorothy would eagerly read The Kingdom of Sand, about a nameless gay narrator who moves to Florida. He’s caring for aging parents (Dorothy can relate) at the height of the AIDS crisis. This isn’t an uplifting book, but it does delve honestly into the feelings of loneliness and loss.

grounds for murder cover

Grounds for Murder by Tara Lush

While I think Dorothy would read somber literature, I think she’d also indulge in some really fun books, like this cozy mystery set in a small Florida town. Lana has a public fight with a former employee at her coffee shop, Perkatory. Naturally, that guy ends up dead and Lana is a prime suspect. She needs to clear her name so that she can also compete in the state barista championship. It’s breezy, quirky, and I suspect Dorothy would drink it down like her morning coffee (never decaf).

What Would Blanche Read?

A Taste of Her Own Medicine book cover

A Taste of Her Own Medicine by Tasha L. Harrison

Blanche’s defining trait is perhaps her horniness. And we all love her for it. So you know I’m right when I say she’d want to read some really sexy romance. One that pairs an older woman with a younger man? Blanche would be spritzing herself with that spray bottle. Atlas is the instructor at Sonja’s entrepreneur workshop, and Sonja is smitten. She’s guarding her heart, but Atlas wants to break down her barriers. Add in a love potion and a wise grandmother (hello, Sophia!) and you know you’re in for a treat.

cover of Memphis by Tara Stringfellow, abstract-style illustration of several Black women sitting on a front porch in front of a yellow door

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

One might assume Blanche would be a devotee of Southern epics like Gone With the Wind, but did you know about the spinoff Golden Palace and its Confederate flag episode? Blanche had a change of heart regarding glorifying the Confederacy. Still, I know she’d want something sprawling, dramatic, and Southern, so I think Memphis would be a book she picks up. It traces three generations of women in a Black family from 1937-2003. At the heart, there’s a woman striving not to be defined by her legacy. There’s both heartbreak and hope in this engrossing story.

What Would Rose Read?

cover image of The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Not only would Rose read The Lager Queen of Minnesota, don’t you think she would have held the title in her day? In fact, we know that she lost the title of St. Olaf Butter Queen due to “churn tampering.” But The Lager Queen of Minnesota is not about pageants; it’s about two sisters and one granddaughter who bond over making beer. It’s a witty family drama about inheritances, secrets, dreamers, and hard work that oozes Minnesota charm, just like Rose.

Book cover of The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

Rose grew up on a farm and has deep ties to farming and farm animals. I think she’d really appreciate the story of Rosalie, a Dakota woman recently widowed who returns to her childhood home after decades living on her white husband’s farm. In searching for community, she learns how she is descended from women who transmit a precious cache of seeds through the generations. Rose would relate to the story of someone discovering their deepest relationship to their roots and the life-giving earth.

If you want even more Golden Girls bookishness, we have a painstaking compilation of every literary reference made in the show! Now there’s a treasure trove. And I hope there are some books on this list that intrigue your inner Golden Girl. When it comes to finding great books to read, consider me your pal and a confidant.