Everywhere, fans of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore can barely contain their excitement at the promised four-episode Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, all airing on 25 November. Entitled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the show’s creators have revealed that each 90-minute episode will take place in a particular season, beginning with Winter and ending in Fall.
But that’s over a month away, weeks with breath bated in anticipation for the return to Stars Hollow after nine long years, finally discovering what has been going on in the fictional lives of Gilmore Girls’ two female leads (and there are plenty of theories out there!). So, while the teaser trailer expounds “Live More. Laugh More. Eat More,” why not read more too? After all, Rory got through some 339 books over the course of the show’s seven seasons.
It therefore seems entirely fitting to put that attendant energy to good use and plow through a few books, before gluing one’s eyes to a screen to binge-watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. The below suggestions are all on Rory’s own reading list.
1. Unless by Carol Shields
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Shields is a master at exploring seemingly “ordinary” lives. Here, mother Rita Winters goes in search of answers when her 19-year old daughter withdraws from life, dropping out of university and choosing instead to sit on a street corner wearing a sign that reads “Goodness.” Somewhat grittier than the mother-daughter relationship of Lorelai and Rory, this is a worthwhile read (uplifted with moments of humor) that ruminates on society.
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
One of the most referred to books in Gilmore Girls, this classic feminist text was Plath’s only novel. Partially autobiographical, Esther Greenwood’s descent into depression while trying to make it as a writer in New York is a book every woman should read. A brilliant novel to revisit, too, while waiting for the end of November.
3. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
For those who were always on #TeamJess, you’ve probably already read this, but if not, then brushing up on your knowledge of Beat literature is a must, and this is where you start. Kerouac’s fictionalized account of his travels, in his trademark style, is a modern classic every self-professed bibliophile cannot help but read.
4. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
On the theme of small town life, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in Maine is replete with characters who know everything about each other – and more tearful than the season seven finale. Stars Hollow has nothing on Empire Falls for shocking climaxes (it was even made into a two-part TV miniseries with a stellar cast).
5. Small Island by Andrea Levy
Adapted for the small screen by the BBC back in 2009 (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris), Levy’s bestselling novel is set in London in 1948 and compares and contrasts the lives of two married couples: one, black Jamaican immigrants, and the other, white middle class homeowners. There are more similarities between the two than at first appears.
6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Rory’s favorite. Therefore, a must-read (with some serious time input, you’ll be done in a week; for slower readers, this 900-pager could last you until 25 November). Enough said.
7. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
A heartbreaking tale of a girl’s murder, and how her friends and family deal with her death over the years and seek the truth of what happened. The movie just doesn’t compare to Sebold’s prose, though it is a lighter fictional read than many of the books on the Gilmore Girls reading list.
8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
A modern classic that was interspersed with the younger Gilmore’s more traditional choices. Set in Kerala, India, Roy’s tale follows fraternal twins Rahel and Estha as they navigate their country during a time of Communism, a strict caste system, and religious discrimination, all from within the foundation of a wrecked familial set up. Check out all the details on Roy’s second upcoming novel, here!
9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Exploring the immigrant experience, Lahiri’s novel features an Indian boy named Gogol (after his father’s favorite writer) growing up in America. Three decades are spanned and continents crossed in this deeply human tale of loyalty, love, and loss.
10. Carrie by Stephen King
Rory was definitely a Stephen King fan (what with Christine, Cujo, and The Shining on the show’s reading list), but Carrie is the one to read while you wait for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life because all the characters (and all viewers) know that high school is an absolute b***h.
11. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The lightest of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey satirized Gothic literature – a sense of humor most suitable for the bond between Lorelai and Rory.
12. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Gilmore Girls was nothing if not a feminist show and Woolf’s text was not only frequently mentioned by the characters, but is also a standard on feminist reading lists. That women need intellectual freedom and financial independence is just as much a concern now as when Woolf first wrote this, and entirely apt for the female leads.
Which books will you be reading before Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life airs on Netflix next month?
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