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 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.”
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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’?”
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 →
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 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 →
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 →
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.
Gilmore Girls: The Hobbit, the Sofa, and Digger Stiles
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 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.”
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 →
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: "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 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 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.
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