The inspiration for this blog, which will keep its digital finger squarely on the pulse of seven-to-fourteen years ago, came not from a wander down memory lane or a memento of days gone by tucked between the pages of a beloved paperback, but from an online quiz someone tweeted @ me.
This quiz, titled “The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge” invited readers to match their own reading history against the 300+ books that its creator claims Rory is seen reading during the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. Despite the fact that I was viewing this thing on the teensy screen of my phone, I immediately began scrolling and tapping like a wild thing, perfectionism and OCP tendencies firing on all cylinders. Quickly, however, I realised that while I applaud the creator of that quiz for his or her spongelike attention to all things literary and literary-adjacent in The Greatest Show of Our Time (Sort Of)™, the list didn’t quite live up to its claim. The Crimson Petal and the White? That was Emily during her booze-soaked tailspin leading up to Gran’s funeral, not Rory. What Color is Your Parachute? A gag gift from Chris to Lorelai for her graduation from business school. The Gnostic Gospels? Maybe, and it wouldn’t put it past Rory to go there, but I’m pretty sure nobody at the Gilmores’ table had any idea what that guy was talking about.
Maybe I’m missing grad school. Maybe I’m trying to legitimise the amount of brain space taken up by encyclopaedic knowledge of Gilmore Girls dialogue. Maybe I’m just a big nerd. All I can say for sure is: a project was born. A little Googling reveals that various versions of that and other Gilmore Girls reading lists exist, each preceded by varying claims as to their scope. For my purposes, I’m going to focus specifically on Rory, and on the pleasures of being absurdly, unnecessarily detail-oriented. I am going to re-watch the entire seven season run of Gilmore Girls and attempt to document, episode-by-episode, every book that Lorelai “Rory” Leigh Gilmore has read, is reading, or is going to read.* In addition to maintaining The List, I am going to attempt to stick to a schedule of twice-weekly posts, plus the occasional bonus post if I’m feeling cheeky. Though part of me wishes I had the time and patience to read or re-read every book myself, life is short and 18th century novels are boring. Instead I’m going to use this project as an impetus to tick some longstanding titles off my to-read list. Tuesdays will be book-centric posts–reviews when I’ve actually finished a novel and…something else book-centric if not. Fridays will be episode-centric posts, hailing from the hinterlands between commentary and recapping.
Along the way, I will certainly be drawn to ruminating on how and why I acquired said encyclopaedic knowledge of TGSOFT(SO). I’m not ready to get on board with the claim that my generation was raised by television, but we have come of age in a time when there is a ton of it, much of it pretty good, some of it astonishingly good, and almost all of it available watch and rewatch on demand in one form or another. Gilmore Girls has been a fixture in my life for a decade, and my identity through that time has, for better or for worse, been informed by the characters and ideals it portrays. Where better than the internet to engage in a little navel-gazing and demon-wrestling alongside the snark and the silliness?
See you next Friday for the excellently dated fashion choices of the Pilot..
*”Is reading” is pretty clear cut. These are books that she is seen reading, that someone states she is reading, or that a teacher or professor assigns. I’m comfortable assuming that Rory does all of her assigned reading.
“Has read” is a little trickier. Sometimes, again, it’s clearly stated. In the case of passing references, when the book in question is better known as a movie, I will usually assume that it’s a film reference rather than a declaration of literary experience. When the book in question is pretty much just a book, context will be key in determining whether she’s actually read it, or is just aware of it in a cultural literacy kind of way.
“Is going to read” is the wobbliest category of the three. It’s very case by case, but in general, I’ll assume that any book Rory purchases, borrows, or receives is going to get read.
Please do call me out on omissions and dodgy judgment calls. Real talk: I am probably not going to be in the business of scrutinising bookshelves. Probably…