When one thinks of Rory Gilmore, Lorelai’s brainy, pop-culture obsessed daughter on Gilmore Girls, one thinks of these things: coffee, Pop Tarts, and BOOKS. Loads and loads of books. 339 of them to be exact, and those are just the ones explicitly referenced throughout the show’s seven-year run.
If you’re reading this (or IDK, if you’re alive), you’re obviously awaiting Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, ready to be binged on November 25th. Not to mention fangirling over the trailer that was just released this morning. In case you don’t have a Google alert set up for Gilmore Girls, here it is:
Crying. Anyway, since our plucky heroines have been absent from our TV screens for almost 10 years, I can’t help but wonder what Rory’s been getting her nose into all this time. We got some juicy hints from that promotional clip with Michelle Obama (yes, Rory has Ferrante fever—was there ever any doubt?), but what are some other reads she’d be raving about from the past decade? Here’s an attempt to break down which books Rory has added to her enviable collection since we last saw her.
2007: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
The show ended on May 15, 2007, and Oscar Wao came out the following September. Quite possibly Rory toted Junot Díaz’s masterwork around as she followed Barack Obama on his first campaign trail. Though Alexis Bledel’s first language was Spanish, Rory might stumble over some of the Dominican patois—after all, Stars Hollow was never very diverse (and that’s an understatement).
2008: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Bolaño’s final work, 2666, was released in Spain after his death, but didn’t hit US shores until 2008. Rory loves nothing more than a weighty tome (‘memba when Christopher tried to buy her the Compact Oxford English Dictionary and his credit card was declined? Christopher blows). Rory devours this 1,100-page saga and all of its sweeping spans through time, tangents within tangents, vast cast of characters, perhaps with a pink highlighter and a good Bic for margin-scribblin’.
2009: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Rory’s got a bit of a thing for Irish writers—throughout the show she’s seen reading or referencing Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, and Seamus Haney’s translation of Beowulf. The fact that Brooklyn was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize makes this historical novel absolute catnip to a reader like Rory. And before you ask: yes, she saw the movie (Red Vines and Milk Duds in tow, of course), and yes, she thinks the book is better.
2010: Just Kids by Patti Smith
Indulge me a moment for this smidgeon of fanfic: Rory gets a package with no return address at her Washington, D.C. apartment. Inside is Just Kids with a note signed “Jess.” GASP. Jess the Controversial, Jess the Moody and Monosyllabic, Jess with the Good Hair. “This book reminded me of you,” is written in chicken scratch. The title page bears Patti’s signature. Be still the beating heart of my teen self who went cuckoo for cranky bad boys.
Nostalgic, Rory pulls out Jess’s first book, The Subsect, the one he gave her almost five years ago. She flips through the first few pages, and oy with the poodles already, does his writing suck. She’d forgotten just how much. Really, really much. Kerouac but wankier. Still, she sighs, that hair.
2011: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and Bossypants by Tina Fey
Maybe by now Rory is in grad school, or knee-deep in work at a reputable newspaper (stuff it, Mitchum Huntzberger). Either way, she wants to take things a little easy in her spare time, picking up some lighter fare from Andrew’s Book Store during her visits to the SH. She buys Swamplandia!, the irreverent and wonderful debut from Karen Russell, and why not, Tina Fey’s Bossypants. She thinks about gifting the latter to Lorelai. After all, her mother can appreciate a witty, wacky woman who somehow has it all. Plus, night cheese.
2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Wild by Cheryl Strayed
After hearing everyone rave about it, Rory reluctantly picks up Gone Girl and finds it surprisingly riveting. That night she has a long, exhilirating dream about Amazing Amy-ing the hell of out Logan.
After some FSG bro from OKC recommends DFW’s bio Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story, she reads Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and wonders if she’d be brave enough to shrug off life’s material luxuries and traverse the wilderness. OF COURSE I WOULD, she thinks. I’M RORY GODDAMN GILMORE AND I STOLE A BOAT ONCE.
2013: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, and People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
Just for kicks, Rory orders Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for her e-reader, which is typically reserved for books she’d feel embarrassed carrying around in public. Not so for The Flamethrowers—this she flaunts with pride. Also, Hanya Yanagihara’s debut, People in the Trees. When A Little Life comes out two years later to critical acclaim, she’ll say, “Yes, but have you read her first book?” with classic Rory snobbery. She reads A Little Life‘s vicious NYRB review and feels a satisfying schadenfreude—after all, she’s been known to pen a particularly cruel pan, like when she reviewed a Yale ballet and called the lead ballerina a hippo with back rolls. Harsh, Ror, harsh.
2014: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
This year Rory climbs aboard the pop-culture-feminist-essay train with Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. She just can’t see why Lena gets slammed on the internet for lack of diverse representation. Someone comments on Rory’s Instagram: “#problematic.” “I’m not #problematic!” she writes back furiously, “My best friend is Korean!” One of her coworkers at the paper suggests she read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State to expand her horizons a tad.
2015: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrrante, and Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon.
Having worked on his campaign when he was just a senator, Rory dives into Barack Obama’s favorite book of the year, Fates and Furies. Of course she freaks out over Ferrante’s Story of the Lost Child, the final book of the Neopolitan series, and Kim Gordon’s memoir Girl in A Band. Rory will never forgive Thurston Moore for what he did to Kim!!!
2016: New York Rock by Steven Blush
Because she totally devoured Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me: The Oral History of Punk, she picks up the equally dense and comprehensive New York Rock: From the Rise of the Velvet Underground to the Fall of CBGB and revels in the stories of her favorite punk goddesses, like Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. When she’s finished, she packages it up to send to Lane, who’s still hanging on to her punk drummer credibility even as she wrangles her two twin boys. Real life may get in the way sometimes, but Hep Alien still finds the time to wail.
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