Books That Would Be on Rory Gilmore’s Reading List in 2021

What pop culture’s favourite reader would have on her TBR today.

Along with Hermoine and Belle, Rory Gilmore is one of the most-loved fictional characters obsessed with reading. Rory constantly has a book nearby, and even when she isn’t reading, someone else on Gilmore Girls is probably referencing a book. The original show mentioned over 300 books in its 7 seasons. That number climbed up above 400 when A Year in the Life was released in 2016.

These books ranged from classics like Shakespeare to today’s current bestsellers like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Getting a peek into Rory’s reading life as an adult in the Netflix update was exciting, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to return to Star’s Hollow any time soon.

So what would Rory be reading nearly 5 years later? Without too many spoilers for those who somehow haven’t finished the series yet, here are the books that I think would be on her TBR now.

Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee

In this modern version of the classic Russian novel, Anna K. is a seventeen-year-old living in Manhattan. She is decently happy with her somewhat bland boyfriend Alexander until she meets the more exciting Vronsky. Naturally, a love triangle forms and Anna K. has to decide if she is willing to wreck her stable existence for passionate romance.

Rory (not surprisingly) has read Anna Karenina. And, she has plenty of experience with love triangles. There’s no way that she would pass up this book.

Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way. — Jenny Lee, Anna K: A Love Story

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

While Headley doesn’t make any changes to the story’s plot, this is not the version of Beowulf that you read in your high school English class. Headley has updated the language to the 21st century instead of simply translating the Old English version. Will it seem dated in 10 years? Maybe, but this version is still an absolute gem.

Rory probably can actually read Old English without a problem. Still, she would definitely approve of this modern version of the classic where the mighty warriors refer to each other as “bro.”

“And Grendel, incomplete, raided relentlessly. Dude, this was what they call a blood feud, a war that tore a hole through the hearts of the Danes.” — Maria Dahvana Headley, Beowulf: A New Translation

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

In this Regency-era magical world, women have to give up their magic after they marry to protect their unborn children. Beatrice Clayborn is determined to become a sorceress, but her family needs her to secure a good marriage to cover their financial debts.

As a Jane Austen fan, Rory would enjoy the alternate Regency-era setting. She would also enjoy reading about a female narrator seeking to avoid the confines of societal expectations.

She had been in Bendleton three days, and while its elegant buildings and clean streets were the prettiest trap anyone could step into, Beatrice would have given anything to be somewhere else — anywhere but here, at the beginning of bargaining season. — C.L. Polk, The Midnight Bargain

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

This is a spoiler for the end of the 7th season, so if you haven’t watched that far, skip this recommendation. In this memoir, Barack Obama reflects on the events that led him to become the 44th president of the United States.

Covering Obama’s election campaign trail was Rory’s first real reporter job, so she would absolutely be reading his first volume of memoirs.

But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you. Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide that you’re willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by. — Barack Obama, A Promised Land

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Peterson

Anne Peterson explores the whys of the current burnout epidemic in American society. This book looks at the ways that the burnout problem is systemic rather than personal.

In A Year in the Life, Rory clearly suffers from anxiety due to the pressure she feels to be successful. She may have to stick with tap dancing for stress relief, but at least she would know what is causing her burnout after finishing this book.

Millennials became the first generation to fully conceptualize themselves as walking college resumes. With assistance from our parents, society, and educators, we came to understand ourselves, consciously or not, as “human capital”: subjects to be optimized for better performance in the economy. — Anne Helen Peterson, Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

Rory’s pile of books to read would probably be toppling over with even more books that she’s planning to get to (including hopefully some books from Jess).

The books that she read during her high school and college years shaped the adult she grew up to become, and it’s fun to imagine how she would continue to evolve from there.

Words by Elizabeth Demolat

Further reading:

6 Books That Will Totally Fuel Your 90s Nostalgia

Published by A Thousand Lives

A new online publication all about books - launched December 2020 📚 ✨ A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one ✨

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