Every Book Rory Reads In Gilmore Girls, By Season

Gilmore Girls focused on the hectic relationship between mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, but it also showed Rory’s relationship with literature and every book she reads. According to Book Riot, the characters read and refer to just shy of 410 books once the Netflix revival, A Year in the Life, came out in 2016. But there’s a big difference between books and authors that were referenced, and the books Rory was seen reading.

At the beginning of Gilmore Girls, Rory was just 16 years old and would rather spend her time reading. She said it best at her high school graduation in season 3, episode 22, “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”: “I live in two worlds; one is a world of books.” Reading not only gave Rory a sense of peace but also took her out of dramatic realities. Unironically, some books Rory read paralleled her own life as a young woman on a mission to become a respected journalist. As controversial as Rory’s ending was it’s her love of literature that gave her the perfect end.

Seasons 1 & 2: Escapism

In the first two seasons of Gilmore Girls, Rory’s love interests was the topic of conversation due to her relationship with Dean Forester and cat-and-mouse flirtation with Jess Mariano. As a teenager, Rory had to figure out her feelings, but she kept putting that on the back burner and focused on reading and schoolwork instead. Likewise, some of the books Rory read in these early seasons were telling of her personality and where she was at in life at this time.

A great example is in season 1, episode 1, “Pilot,” when Dean saw Rory read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. She was so entranced by what she was reading that she missed an accident that happened in front of her. The nod to Bovary is essential because the book focuses on a young woman who lived larger than she should because she was trying to escape her boring life. While Rory’s life was anything but boring on Gilmore Girls, she did read to run away from her problems. Before Gilmore Girls teased Rory’s downfall, other books she was seen blissfully reading in seasons 1 and 2 show similar parallels and comparisons.

  • Moby-Dick
    by Herman Melville (Season 1, Episode 1)

  • Madame Bovary
    by Gustave Flaubert

    (Season 1, Episode 1)

  • S
    onnet 116
    by William Shakespeare

    (Season 1, Episode 4)
  • A Room of One’s Own
    by Virginia Wolf
    (
    Season 1, Episode 5)

  • New poems
    by Emily Dickinson (Season 1, Episode 11)

  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    by Sylvia Plath (Season 1, Episode 12)

  • Anna Karenina
    by Leo Tolstoy

    (Season 1, Episode 16)

  • Ulysses
    by James Joyce

    (Season 1, Episode 20)

  • Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette
    by Judith Thurman (Season 2, Episode 3)

  • Mrs. Dalloway
    by Virginia Wolf (Season 2, Episode 4)

  • Howl
    by Allen Ginsberg (Season 2, Episode 5)

  • Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
    by Simone de Beauvoir (Season 2, Episode 7)

  • Summer of Fear
    by T Jefferson Parker (Season 2, Episode 12)

  • The Scarecrow of Oz
    by L Frank Baum (Season 2, Episode 12)

  • Contact
    by Carl Sagan (Season 2, Episode 12)

  • The Children’s Hour
    by Lillian Hellman (Season 2, Episode 13)

  • The Fountainhead
    by Ayn Rand (Season 2, Episode 13)

  • Letters to a Young Poet
    by Rainer Maria Rilke (Season 2, Episode 15)

  • Othello by William Shakespeare (Season 2, Episode 19)

Seasons 3 & 4: Growth & New Beginnings

Rory reading a book in bed in season 4 of Gilmore Girls

Seasons 3 and 4 of Gilmore Girls focused on Rory finding herself and following her heart. Instead of settling with her ex-boyfriend Dean Forester, Rory chased her feelings and started dating Jess Mariano. However, their relationship was short-lived and Jess wasn’t right for Rory until season 6. Even more transformative, Rory graduated from high school at the end of season 3, bringing a new world to her in season 4 when Rory went to Yale instead of Harvard.

The books Rory was seen reading or holding on Gilmore Girls mirrored her time at Yale, a cathartic and eye-opening experience. Rory was seen reading In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust in season 3, episode 17, “A Tales of Poes and Fire,” which is relatable to Rory’s upbringing; a privileged narrator who grew up in a wealthy area who questioned their place in the world. Even if not specifically noted, the books Rory read were telling.

  • Europe Through the Back Door
    by Rick Steves (Season 3, Episode 13)

  • The Holy Barbarians
    by Lawrence Lipton (Season 3, Episode 14)

  • In Search of Lost Time
    by Marcel Proust (Season 3, Episode 17)

  • Atonement
    by Ian McEwan (Season 4, Episode 3)

  • Northanger Abbey
    by Jane Austen (Season 4, Episode 4)

  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories
    by Ernest Hemingway (Season 4, Episode 5)

  • Tender is the Night
    by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Season 4, Episode 5)

Seasons 5 & 6: Rory’s Reckless Phase

Rory reading a book in bed in season 5 of Gilmore Girls

Rory may have been sweet and agreeable in the first four seasons of Gilmore Girls, but that changed in seasons 5 and 6. Like Beverly Cleary’s A Girl from Yamhill, Rory’s colorful childhood with a fun and quirky mom made her present hard to handle when she faced adversity. Outside of having an affair with a married ex-boyfriend, Rory made things worse when she stole a yacht with, arguably, her best boyfriend Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls. With her life seemingly in turmoil by the end of the season, it imitated the sadness Joan Didion felt in The Year of Magical Thinking — another book she read.

After Rory was arrested on Gilmore Girls, Rory’s mother Lorelai didn’t recognize her daughter at the start of season 6 after she dropped out of college and dated someone as privileged as the Gilmores. Not realizing the path she was on, Rory got a hard taste of reality when her ex-boyfriend Jess came back into her life and made her realize what she gave up to be a stay-at-home wife like her grandmother, respectfully. Before the end of the Gilmore Girls season, Rory felt like herself again, re-enrolled in school, and continued reading her favorites while her boyfriend graduated from Yale and moved to London.

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    by Mark Haddon (Season 5, Episode 6)

  • A Girl from Yamhill
    by Beverly Cleary (Season 5, Episode 9)

  • Subsect
    by Jess Mariano (Season 6, Episode 8)

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
    Genius by Dave Eggers (Season 5, Episode 15)

  • Leaves of Grass
    by Walt Whitman (Season 5, Episode 17)

  • The Year of Magical Thinking
    by Joan Didion (Season 6, Episode 15)

Season 7: New Beginnings & A Bright Future

Rory on the phone at the YDN on Gilmore Girls

Season 7 was the final season of Gilmore Girls and the most important (although arguably, season 7 was one of Gilmore Girls’ worst seasons). While the storylines for the other characters were just as important, all eyes were on Rory as she was on the road to graduating from Yale and entering the “real” world. In season 7, episode 3, “Lorelai’s First Cotillion,” Rory was seen reading Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion by Henry Miller. This novel might be the closest to Rory’s life as it’s about Miller’s life as a struggling writer who fell in love and left for a new city and beginning.

Like Miller, Rory graduated from Yale and started a journey out West as a reporter for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Her dream of traveling and becoming a writer came true, even if her relationship didn’t pan out the way she envisioned. The hundreds of books Rory read and lost herself in got her where she needed to be at such a young age. After two planned Gilmore Girls spinoffs didn’t happen, fans finally found out what became of Rory’s future in the revival, Gilmore Girls:A Year in the Life.

  • In Cold Blood
    by Truman Capote (Season 7, Episode 1)

  • Sexus
    :
    The Rosy Crucifixion
    by Henry Miller (Season 7, Episode 3)

The Revival: A Shocking Twist And A Future No One Saw Coming

Rory and Lorelai lounging by the pool on Gilmore Girls

In 2016, Netflix introduced A Year in the Life with fun cameos and the original cast. The revival came with four episodes, covering all four seasons. Rory was now in her 30’s, back in Stars Hollow, and unsure where her life was taking her now that she was out of work and homeless. More importantly, Rory’s future wasn’t far off from the protagonist in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina — a book she read many times throughout Gilmore Girls.

In the novel, Anna enters an affair with an officer in the army that only thrives when the two are away from home. Once they go back home, life is altered for the worse. A similar storyline followed Rory. When her professional life blew up in flames, the only thing going for Rory was, sadly, an affair with Logan, who was engaged. Although Anna Karenina has been referenced throughout Gilmore Girls, it was the perfect book for her to be reading by the pool in “Summer.” As always, Rory’s love of reading took her into another world, especially when she uttered those final four words: she was pregnant.

  • Aeschylus

    (“Spring”)

  • Anna Karenina
    by Leo Tolstoy (“Summer”)

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