Most of us are familiar with Rory Gilmore, the quintessential book lover. Don’t get me wrong, she’s definitely not the best person and not exactly a character to look up to, but she was someone on TV for all of us book nerds to feel seen. She made reading feel at least a little bit cool. I mean, it is cool, but when you’re fourteen and everyone is making fun of you for reading so much instead of going to the mall and fawning over Teen People, it didn’t feel cool. Rory was there for us millennial bookworms.
So when I was brainstorming ideas for blog posts recently, I
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
I tend to think of Rory reading classics, because I feel like that’s what we see her reading most often. But glancing through the list of books mentioned or featured on the show, there are actually a lot of them that were released during the show’s original run. So she did keep up with a lot of the contemporary books in a wide range of genres. And just a quick glance through recent releases (at least those on my own list), this one just felt very Rory. It’s ambitious and literary in a way that appeals to that analytical part of my brain, and just seems like it’ll be a deep story with some relevant commentary on society and maybe even climate change, but in a way that’s entertaining and enjoyable to read. So I can definitely see this appealing to Rory for the same reasons.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
If “that girl” was a thing in the early aughts, I feel like Rory Gilmore probably have embraced that trope. Or at least read all the books those girls were posting about on Myspace. As often as she reads classics, she likes to stay current and keep up with the books that are big in pop culture (although she was a little bit ahead of her time with some of the books on her list, so maybe she’d be setting the trends instead of following them). Either way, I feel like this book would be a very Gilmore thing to discuss. It might even be more of a Lorelei book, but you know Rory would read it first.
The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race Walter Isaacson
Rory has a history of reading biographies and various nonfiction books about badass, inspiring women (like Eleanor Roosevelt and Simone de Beauvoir), so I feel like she would be all over this most recent book by Walter Isaacson about Jennifer Doudna, who just won the Nobel Prize for her contributions to MRNA technology and the development of the Covid vaccines. This book was fascinating and I was completely obsessed with this one. While Rory tends to focus on historical figures in her nonfiction reading, I feel like this one might appeal to her journalism interests since it’s so current and relevant.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
We all know Rory was pretty big on classics, but on her reading list she only had two Brontë novels – Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I think now that she’s a little older she might have graduated to the third – and in my opinion, best – Brontë sister, Anne. Anne’s stories feel a bit more mature and grounded than that of her sisters. There is no running across the moors to find Heathcliff in this one, just a single mother who has left her abusive husband and feels wary about her friendship with the sweet guy next door, but is maybe open to love. As long as she can retain her independence and take care of her kid. It’s a shame this one is so often overlooked, but I feel like Rory occasionally picks up some more obscure books, so I’d love to see this on her reading list now.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
I haven’t seen her at any meetings, but I’m fairly confident Rory is a member of the Shakespeare fan club (but seriously, if this is a real thing, where can I join?). So I would bet that like me, she also picked up this book for that reason. Also because this is award-winning historical fiction and I kind of feel like that’s right up her alley. I can’t see her falling for the book hype all that often – she seems to kind of do her own thing – but seeing as how she’s read a fair amount of the Pulitzer Prize winners, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s keeping up with the Women’s Prize for Fiction nowadays, which this book won.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Speaking of Women’s Prize for Fiction winners… I would love to see this on Rory’s list. I personally gave both this and Hamnet five stars, so I might be a tiny bit biased. But I would love to see Rory reading this one. It’s weird and literary and different than what it seems like she usually reads, but I think she might appreciate how unique (and also brilliant) this one is. I also think she might like this because it feels like it belongs with the classics (even though it’s not) and I’d definitely recommend this for people who like contemporary literary fiction, but also enjoy Shakespeare and Homer and Dumas, all of whom Rory has read.
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
Rory is not afraid of massive history books – she reads all three volumes of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, each of which is over a thousand pages. So this six-hundred page book should be a nice weekend read to her. And I would love to see her in the 2020s reading a bit more diversely and also expanding the history topics she reads about. I honestly don’t really know if 2022 Rory would be focusing on reading and learning about racism in history and being an anti-racist now, but I hope she would. Maybe it’s part of her personal journey to stop being such an inconsiderate jerk sometimes and also raise her own kid to be more empathetic and open-minded. She’d definitely gain a little more of my respect if I saw this one on her bookshelves.
Beowulf translated by Maria Dahvana Headley
I told you I wouldn’t stop talking about this book. But seriously, I definitely think this one would be on Rory’s radar. She has read Beowulf, but specifically mentions Seamus Heaney’s translation (she recommends it to Lorelai). Which is fine, whatever. But I can’t imagine her liking Beowulf enough to recommend it to her mother and then not picking up a brand-new translation – the first by a woman – with a feminist tone when so much of her reading focuses on feminism and really cool women, or at least as much as it could in the early 2000s when it wasn’t being talked about as much as it is now.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Like me, Rory is an occasional reader of nonfiction. And we do have fairly similar taste, so I feel like she might love this one, too. Especially because Rory obviously has a strong interest in journalism, and Chanel’s story was huge when her “Jane Doe” letter and the article about her sexual assault on Stanford’s campus first came out. So Rory would definitely be aware of this one. It looks like there are a few memoirs on Rory’s list, but I’d love to see her branch out and read things like this book or Crying in H Mart or I’m Afraid of Men or Memorial Drive or In the Dream House or Funny in Farsi (I didn’t want to make this list half memoirs, but it was hard to choose just one). The world has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and it’s time for focus more on diverse experiences and authors. There are a ton of new-ish memoirs like this that I think would be excellent additions to Rory’s reading list, and I’d like to think that in 2022, she’s exploring these more than she was in 2002.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
You know Rory would be picking up this gorgeously written piece of literary fiction/poetry that is written as a letter from a son to his mother, who cannot read. I personally didn’t love it because I don’t do well with books about mother/child relationships (mine was toxic, so it’s kind of triggering). But I feel like Rory would like it specifically because of that reason. She read pretty broadly back in the early 2000s, considering the books that were being published and marketed at that time, so something like this might be a bit out of her comfort zone, but I’d love to see her branch out and explore all the new things that are being published now.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
I don’t think we ever see her reading them, but there are actually two true crime books on the Rory Gilmore reading list: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. So while I don’t think Rory’s a huge true crime fan, she maybe does pick up the ones that are getting a lot of attention. Also, this story is (again) journalism related since the author was a journalist/blogger documenting her own exploration of a decades-old serial killer case. This was also pretty huge in the news a few years ago, so I feel like that got a lot of people to pick this one up (including myself, though I do read more true crime than Rory seems to). So if she was going to pick up a true crime book in the last four years, I’d guess it was this one.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Looking at Rory’s reading list does feel like reading a list of classics and history books with a ton of other genres randomly tossed in. Like I’ve already mentioned, she seems to pick up contemporary books (or books that were contemporary back in 2002) that have cultural significance. So I can see her picking up something like this book that’s a commentary on race and privilege. Obviously, this is not the only such book out there, but this one got a lot of attention when it came out, so it feels like a fairly likely choice for something that Rory might have come across and picked up, if she was going to pick up a book like this one. And I like to think she would be branching out and reading things like this now. Hopefully.
The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
I feel like Rory’s read all the “must-read” classics by now. She’s worked her way through Austen and Tolstoy and Twain. And she’s read Frankenstein, so I think she might be interested in reading more of Mary Shelley’s work. This one is a tragic love story set against the backdrop of a plague that is gradually killing off the human race. I did read it pre-2020, so I imagine this hitting a little different now, but it’s still a great classic and one I think Rory might pick up once she starts exploring some of the underrated classics she might have overlooked in high school.
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
And as soon as I added Mary Shelley to this list, I knew I also had to include this one, which is a great biography of both Mary Shelley, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft (who also happens to be the mother of feminism). Their lives were kind of insane, so this is a fun read for a nonfiction book. And we already know Rory likes both biographies and reading about really interesting women, so this is kind of a no-brainer.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This post has taken me a ridiculously long time to write, but I spent a decent amount of that time debating whether or not Rory would be the kind of person to pick up a Sally Rooney book. And I have decided that she has read at least one, especially if she’s reading Ottessa Moshfegh – they’re not that similar, but I feel like I see them together a lot on social media or in book lists. It was a toss-up between this one and Conversations with Friends, but I went with Normal People solely because it was adapted first and you know TV is important to the Gilmores.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Again, another hugely talked about, award-winning book that I’m sure everyone who pays attention to book news has heard of this one at some point. We know Rory likes reading women’s stories, so I would like to think she’s branching out into books like this that include a diverse cast of women from a broad range of backgrounds and life experiences. I actually found a list of just the books mentioned in the revival, and they’re not all that much more diverse than the original list. But it’s been six years, the world is different, my reading has gotten much more diverse, so here’s hoping Rory’s has too, and that she’s reading impactful and diverse books like this one.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
This is just another recent-ish release that was getting a lot of hype for a while. It’s also one of those books that, in my head at least, feels sort of classic-adjacent. It’s not a classic (at least not yet), but it is historical fiction that just gives classic vibes. I am probably making no sense to anyone but myself, but hopefully you kind of get where I’m going. My point is, this feels like something Rory might have picked up because it has a similar feeling to a lot of books she’s read before, and also was pretty popular for a while, so it’s likely she came across it while perusing a bookstore somewhere back in late 2019.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Out of all the books on this list, I think this is the one I went back and forth on the most. Because it doesn’t scream “Rory Gilmore” at first glance. But there are a couple reasons I ultimately decided to include this one. First, I’d love to see 2022 Rory having matured and branching out into more diverse literary and historical fiction. She reads way too much to not be expanding her horizons and reading books like this one. But also, this book is about two sisters and follows their descendants through many generations. And Gilmore Girls is ultimately a story of a family across several generations. So I think this one would be a great way for Rory to branch outside her comfort zone with a story that has a strong family theme.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This book combines two of Rory’s loves: historical fiction and movies. This one is about a daredevil female aviator and the actress hired to portray her a century later, in a film about her disappearance in Antarctica. This is on my reading list for this year, and I think it might be on Rory’s list, too. Maybe even something she can share with her mother, since Lorelai also obviously loves movies and, based on her whole Wild storyline in the revival, does like reading books about adventures.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
And finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without a book that touched on Rory’s friendship with Lane, and a book about a 70s rock band felt like the obvious choice. Not only is this very focused on music and a band, it’s told as a series of interviews with a journalist. So it’s the perfect blend of those two interests for Rory, and I can absolutely see her picking this up, even if just for the nostalgic factor (and being pleasantly surprised at how much depth this story has).
This was such a fun post to put together! I hope you enjoyed it! What books would you add to Rory Gilmore’s 2022 reading list? Do you think she would have branched out in her reading, or would she be sticking to what she knows?
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