The Ultimate Gilmore Girls Reading List
For most of my adult life, whenever anyone asks what my dream job is, I've had the same answer: public librarian in Stars Hollow, where Gilmore Girls takes place.
The TV series about a witty mother-daughter pair -- plus the residents of the world’s most picturesque Connecticut town -- is about to be rebooted, with four new episodes coming from Netflix around Thanksgiving.
Book-lovers everywhere are rejoicing; the GG universe is full of literary references, and fans have devoted countless lists and blog posts to celebrating the 339 books mentioned on the show. A super-fan even created the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge to read them all.
As a professional book recommender and a major Gilmore fan, I've craned my neck to see Rory's bookshelves and squinted at the paperbacks Jess shoves in his bag. And, in the nine years since the show ended, I've had plenty of time to think about the reading tastes of the characters and imagine the books I wish they’d picked up since the series finale. (Like any true fan, I'm pretending Season 7 never happened.)
So, until I'm hired full-time at my dream job, here's a list of books that I'd recommend to the citizens of Stars Hollow if I were behind the reference desk at the SHPL.
Lorelai: The Mastery of Love by Miguel Ruiz. Luke is the one who listens to that self-help book on tape in Season 4, admits to himself that he loves Lorelai, and becomes a viable partner. But Lorelai arguably needs more help in that department than Luke ever did, so it's time for some solid relationship advice from a New Age-y bestseller.
Rory: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Aside from being an incredible story, this novel about an escaped slave’s attempt at freedom would work for Rory on a number of levels. It’s big in the current zeitgeist, and it’s high-conceit historical fiction with a great nod to Gulliver’s Travels, which she’s certainly read by now. A true book-lover’s book.
Luke: My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten. Our all-time favorite Luke moment comes when he helps out his sister by selling her jewelry at a Renaissance Faire for a brief flash in Season 5. Even though he refused to wear a costume, we’re pretty sure Luke secretly loved it, and we want nothing more than for him to speak in fake old timey English on the morrow. Also, it’s fun to imagine Luke stalking around, carrying a YA novel with a sweet maiden on the cover. Huzzah!
Christopher: Operating Instructions and Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott. Chris has never quite been up to the challenge of being a parent. These two memoirs — one from Lamott alone, about raising her son, and one from her and her son together after he becomes a parent — might help.
Emily: Paris in Love by Eloisa James. Something about this light autobiography of an American woman spending a year in Paris reminded me of Lorelai’s Europe-loving, high-society, prim-but-vicious mother from the moment I read it. Emily would likely resent the social-media aspect of the book, in which the author uses her own Facebook posts to tell the story… and that resentment would help Emily enjoy it even more.
Sookie: Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. This chef memoir is inspiring and brave and awesome. If Sookie ever left Stars Hollow, she’d be just as hard-core.
Jackson: Growing Tomorrow: A Farm-to-Table Journey in Photos and Recipes by Forrest Pritchard. Jackson was doing farm-to-table cuisine before it had a name. Remember when he slept with his zucchini and sang to his persimmons?
Lane Kim: The Beat of My Own Drum by Sheila E. It’s obvious, right? Drumming + awesomeness = Lane.
Mrs. Kim: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. We just want to see how the Kon-Mari craze would jive with Mrs. Kim's rigid antique-store aesthetic. Would she love it or hate it? Would she have kept the special marriage jug?
Dean: Feminism: Reimagining the F-Word by Nadia Abushanab Higgins. Dean has some really outdated ideas about women's place in society (Donna Reed episode in Season 1, we're looking at you) and he needs a crash course. This easy-to-read, super-current work of nonfiction touches on feminist icons, history, sexual assault, body positivity, and intersectionality.
Jess: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. Somehow, we suspect that hyper-literate Jess didn't catch any waves when he went to California in Season 3, but his rebellious soul's surfing memoir/travelogue/coming-of-age story might speak to him.
Logan: Forget books — someone just drop Logan off in the middle of a desert, or an ocean, or as far away from Rory as possible. #TeamAnyoneButLogan
Paris: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. In some alternate universe, Paris could have taken a seriously wrong turn and gone very, very bad. This smart, dark, satirical, weird YA novel about fan culture and its creepy consequences could have reflected Paris' intensity if she'd unleashed it on the world in a really messed-up way.
Doyle: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This novel about college debauchery that ends in murder will help Doyle see through the pretense of the rich, popular kids (read: Logan) and gain confidence in his own innate awesomeness.
Kirk: Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Aside from the awesome title, this book has practical tips from the creators of Freakonomics about training yourself to work creatively and solve problems — just what Kirk, the consummate jack-of-all-trades, needs for his career path.
Taylor: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. After his sad defeat in the town selectman election, maybe Taylor should go back to the basics with this classic and learn how not to be so... Taylor-ish.
Miss Patty & Babette: Gossip by Beth Gutcheon. Stars Hollow’s favorite busybodies would devour this understated novel about the subtleties and rivalries between lifelong friends like themselves.
Michel: Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky. Our favorite French concierge would find common ground with Tomsky in this behind-the-scenes page-turner. Maybe he could have picked up some tips and talked Lorelai into letting his chow-chows work the front desk.
Any other recommendations? Want to fill in more secondary characters or guest stars? Leave a comment below.
All cast images via the Gilmore Girls Wiki.
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Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!