Gilmore Girls: A Series in Books

Gilmore Girls: A Series in Books

You squealed at the news. You teared up when you watched the trailer. And now you’re counting down the days until you can catch up on what your favorite book snob—er, book lover—has been up to since we last saw the Gilmore Girls in 2007.

Of course there are many Big Questions we would like to see answered in the four-episode revival. Near the top of my list: What is Rory reading now?

I have my hunches. In the meantime, enjoy this glimpse at just a few of the 339 books we saw Rory reading in the original seven seasons.

rory-and-dean-pilot

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Rory is accepted into the elite Chilton prep school. Bad news for Lorelai: she must make amends with her parents to borrow the money for Rory’s tuition. The money is available—with strings attached.

All good stories have memorable characters (grouchy diner owner Luke, cool-mom Lorelai and bookish Rory, more interested in Melville than motorcycle-owning boys… at least for now), a great setting (storybook Stars Hollow), and conflict. When Rory is accepted into Chilton Prep, Lorelai asks her wealthy parents for the money. They say yes, but there are strings attached. Strings that conveniently propel the plot forward.

Dean sets us up for the first of many book references when he says, confessing to have been eyeing Rory, “I have never seen anyone read so intensely before in my entire life.”

 

Series: Gilmore Girls: Pilot
Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

Author:
Rory's take: "It's really good." (Related: "I mean, I know it’s kind of cliché to pick Moby Dick as your first Melville but…"). This American classic tells the story, through the eyes of sailor Ishmael, of Captain Ahab's obsessive quest to extract revenge from the great white whale that attacked him and bit off his leg at the knee. More info →
Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

The week before Dean spied Rory reading Moby Dick, he watched as she read Madame Bovary. She's got good taste, that Rory Gilmore. Flaubert's classic tells the story of the titular Emma Bovary, a provincial wife who, bored with her marriage, seeks excitement outside its bonds, leading to her ruin. More info →

dean-rory-lane-love-and-war-and-snow

Season 1, Episode 8: Love and War and Snow

Life lessons from Episode 8: Hold on to any boy who will read Jane Austen for you (or at least bring him some rocky road cookies) or any man who will walk around in the snow with you and eat fiesta burgers. Everything’s magical when it snows.

Series: Gilmore Girls: Love and War and Snow
Jane Austen Collection

Jane Austen Collection

Author:
In this episode, Rory convinces Dean to read Jane Austen. (He liked it. Rory knew he would.) She promises to read Hunter S. Thompson in return. More info →
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

We never actually see Rory reading Hunter S. Thompson, but doesn't she strike you as the kind of girl who would read what her boyfriend asked her to read? I can't best the publisher, who calls this "the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page." More info →

rorys-dance

Season 1, Episode 9: Rory’s Dance

Never go anywhere without a book. Even a formal dance. And while we’re at it, never fall asleep at Miss Patty’s after said dance. Furthermore, don’t fight about who’s the worst mother. Just don’t.

Series: Gilmore Girls: Rory's Dance
The Portable Dorothy Parker

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Author:
Rory and Dean attend the Chilton dance, but more importantly, we find out that Rory never leaves home without a book. Her secret's out when Dean picks up her purse and wants to know why it weighs A TON. (DEAN: You thought there'd be a lot of downtime? RORY: No. I just take a book with me everywhere. It's just habit.") The book in her bag: The Portable Dorothy Parker Fun fact: Amy Sherman-Palladino’s production company is named “Dorothy Parker Drank Here.” More info →

rory-howl

Season 2, Episode 5: Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy

The Gilmore girls are introduced to Jess—margin-writer, Ginsberg-reader, Dickens-decoder, and sultry-stare giver. Every book lover can relate to (and probably swoon over) Jess’ answer to “Do you read much?”… “What is ‘much’?”

Series: Gilmore Girls: Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy
Howl

Howl

Author:
Jess lifts Rory's copy of Howl off her bookshelves, and later returns this classic collection from the Beat Generation—with his notes in the margins. (RORY: I lent him a book and he wrote some stuff in it. LORELAI: He vandalized one of your books? RORY: No, he didn’t vandalize it. He wrote in the margins, thoughts and stuff.) That's a grand romantic gesture to a bookworm, right? More info →
Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Author:
Rory calls Jess “Dodger" in this episode after he lifts her copy of Howl, and if that doesn't make you want to revisit Dickens' classic tale about orphan Oliver and his motley crew of companions, including Jack Dawkins, aka the "Artful Dodger." (To his credit, Jess gets the reference.) More info →

rory-graduation-speech

Season 3, Episode 22: Those Are Strings, Pinocchio

Rory brings down the house with her graduation address, which is possibly the most classic of bookish speeches in all television. Don’t we all live in two worlds—one a world of books?

Series: Gilmore Girls: Those Are Strings, Pinocchio
Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Author:
Rory kicks off her graduation address like this: "I live in two worlds. One is a world of books. I've been a resident of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina..." Of course Rory loves Anna Karenina. When Dean calls it "depressing," Rory tells him it's "beautiful," saying it's one of her favorites. If you've previously tried Tolstoy and given up, Rory says try again. You won't be sorry. More info →
Eudora Welty : Complete Novels

Eudora Welty : Complete Novels

Author:
Next, Rory pays tribute to Lorelai: "She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don't know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her." (I'm betting The Optimist's Daughter, Welty's Pulitzer-winning short novel about death and class and Dickens, was on the Gilmore bookshelves.) More info →

rory-atonement

Season 4, Episode 3: The Hobbit, the Sofa, and Digger Stiles

Even Gilmore girls episode titles are packed full of bookish references. Lorelai plans a Lord of the Rings themed birthday party. Rory won’t open the door to her first college party because she’s being Heidi’s grandfather (and apparently living with a Stephen King novel). And we get our first sighting of Marty, who must be smitten with Rory because he walks into the classroom to find her reading Atonement.

Series: Gilmore Girls: The Hobbit, the Sofa, and Digger Stiles
Atonement

Atonement

Author:
Rory shows up ridiculously early to her first day of class at Yale, and she passes the time by reading—of course. In this novel that's all about the dangerous power of the imagination, the characters' revealed imaginings for their own futures are breathtaking. More info →

jason-guest-room

Season 4, Episode 10: The Nanny and the Professor

Jason Stiles may not have had much going for him, but he did have one of the best libraries on Gilmore Girls—“ranging from the classics – Wuthering Heights – to the real classics – Valley of the Dolls.”

Series: Gilmore Girls: The Nanny and the Professor
Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Author:
Jason tells Lorelai that the guest room is stocked with all the classics from Wuthering Heights, to the “real classics,” Valley of the Dolls. This groundbreaking classic was downright scandalous in its day—and it hasn’t lost much of its shock value in the intervening 160+ years. Heathcliff is every bit as much the abominable scoundrel now as he was then, and the English moors are every bit as creepy. Does Rory get swept up in the drama of it all? I say yes. More info →
Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls

NPR describes this as "a zipper-ripper that has been called trashy, tawdry, glitzy, lusty, sordid and seamy — and that's just the beginning of its appeal." Do we see modern-day Rory getting her book recommendations from NPR? Why yes. Yes we do. More info →

rory-daisy-miller

Season 5, Episode 1: Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller

Rory’s finally going through her phase, which compels us to ask the obvious question: how is Gilmore Girls like a Henry James novel?

Series: Gilmore Girls: Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller
Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller

Author:
RORY: "So, what is this, a Henry James novel? The young lady acts up, and her family ships her off to Europe?" In Henry James's classic, a beautiful American girl traveling in Europe catches the eye of a sophisticated fellow traveler, but Daisy's flirtatiousness and disdain for convention impedes their courtship, and ultimately leads to her downfall. More info →

rory-year-of-magical-thinking-1

Season 6, Episode 15: A Vineyard Valentine

Rory and Logan, and Luke and Lorelai, head off to the Huntzberger’s house on Martha’s Vineyard for a Valentine getaway, which begins badly—Luke clearly can’t stand Logan—and ends in disaster.

Series: Gilmore Girls: A Vineyard Valentine
The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking

Author:
Rory reads this during the ill-fated trip to Martha's Vineyard, and for fans who think her relationship with Logan was one big exercise in magical thinking, take this as your proof. In this heartbreaking memoir, Didion writes about the year following her husband's sudden death, set against the backdrop of her daughter's devastating illness, one from which she ultimately would not recover. This book clocks in at an impressive #2 on The Guardian's list of the 100 best nonfiction books. More info →

rory-farewell-my-pet

Season 7, Episode 14: Farewell, My Pet

The men of the Gilmore world have excellent literary taste. Rory tells us that everyone loves House of Spirits. Good enough for us!

Series: Gilmore Girls: Farewell, My Pet
The House of Spirits

The House of Spirits

Author:
Rory flirts with her TA by—what else?—commenting on his reading material. She says everyone loves Allende's House of the Spirits, but she thinks Eva Luna is Allende's best work. For today we'll go with Rory's crowd-pleasing recommendation. She'd like the backstory on this novel: it was rejected numerous times before one Spanish publisher said YES, then it went on to become an instant bestseller. More info →

What is YOUR favorite Rory Gilmore Reading Moment? Tell us all about it in comments. 

Gilmore Girls: a series in books

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19 comments

  1. Leslie says:

    GG was, and is, literally, my most favorite show of all time. And, yes, I did cry when I saw Netflix is gracing us with 4 new episodes. I’m only sad that there will not be more. It’s funny that you post Rory’s reading list because I found myself looking for books that she read over the years while watching GG. Thank you for this great post!

  2. Stacey says:

    The book I always think of in relation to Gilmore Girls is Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust. Max Medina is still my favorite of all of Lorelai’s love interests on the show!

  3. Megan Miller says:

    Love when she smells the books!!! Used books are one of my favorite stops in a new town, and the smell of a real life book is almost unbeatable!

  4. Jena says:

    This list is great! I am so excited for the new episodes! I have often thought I should explore the list of books that Rory has read or mentioned in the show, but I haven’t yet… Maybe now while I wait for the show… Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  5. Ellen McKinley says:

    The first book that popped into my head was the Proust that Lorelai borrowed from Max Medina, her ill-fated fiance.

    Love, love, loved this post!

  6. Victoria Bakrdjian says:

    Seeing this post in my inbox really made my day! I absolutely adore Gilmore Girls – it’s probably my favourite show of all time – so seeing this post really motivated me to start reading some Rory-approved books (hopefully before the Netflix reboot, which I seriously CANNOT wait for!) Thanks a lot for this, Anne! 🙂

  7. Thank you thank you! This post has made me SO happy! I’ve always been a Rory in life but I’ve always known I’ll never be able to keep up with all her books. I didn’t know there were 339 books. Just re-watched all the seasons in preparation for the new miniseries and one of my favorite moments is when Rory freaks on her Yale tour about how many books are in the libraries there and how few books she’S read in life in the grand scheme of things. I always thought to myself, “but you read SO MUCH!” Haha. Love this, Anne. I’m going to make a list of all the need to reads from the Rory Gilmore list.

  8. erin says:

    Love this post so much, as Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite show. I love it when Rory has the summer job working for Andrew in the bookstore, but her “to buy” stack is bigger than the stack she is inventorying, and she remarks that the job is going to cost her a lot of money. I also love the “Reading is sexy” shirt she wears in an episode.

  9. stephany says:

    i watched gilmore girls from the very beginning. then, i bought each season on dvd. then, i named my daughter lorelai. i love this! i carry at least one book in my bag with me at all times…i might have to start adding these to my reading list!!

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