Through the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge, we’ve been introduced to new books, reread favorites, and connected with characters we welcomed into our living rooms for seven seasons (and four revival episodes).
We may not be able to share with the Gilmore girls arm-in-arm strolls through Star’s Hollow and fast-talking chats over coffee at Luke’s, but we can read the same books. That is one of the gifts the show’s voluminous literary references have given us: an opportunity to share experiences with the show's characters.
But of course, it all began with what we shared with Rory before we ever read a common title: a passion for books and reading. Even if you never read a single book from the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge list, if you love books and reading, you can identify with one of these moments from the show:
Your reputation as a book lover precedes you.
If you’ve ever had a friend, or friend-of-a-friend, marvel at your massive book collection, you’ll appreciate episode 14 in season two. Christopher brings his eager-to-impress girlfriend Sherry to Rory’s debate at Chilton. After Rory’s team (consisting of her and Paris) wins, Lorelai invites the couple back to her house, and Sherry gushes about wanting to see Rory’s room, especially her book collection.
“I’ve heard all about the books,” she enthuses. “I can’t wait to see the books.”
Sherry could be … kind of flighty. But if there’s one thing I can’t fault her for, it’s wanting to see Rory’s book collection. Especially now I’ve spent two and a half years reading titles from that collection.
Stashing books wherever they fit.
A couple of episodes before the above (episode 14 in season two), Richard, following his retirement, visits Star’s Hollow ... after Emily begs Lorelai to take him off her hands for a day. In any case, he ends up in Star’s Hollow, in Rory’s bedroom, inspecting her book collection. He begins taking notes on titles missing from her collection … until Rory explains that the books on her actual shelves are just the beginning. In the absence of adequate shelving, books also live in piles under her bed and crammed into dresser drawers.
Packing just-in-case books (yes, plural).
Here’s another gem from season two, this one from episode seven: Rory is at her kitchen table filling her backpack. And emptying it and refilling it. And then trying again, because she can’t seem to make all her books fit. She complains the backpack is too small. Lorelai asserts it isn’t. The problem is Rory’s extra-curricular reading. When Lorelai suggests Rory remove books she doesn’t need for school, Rory explains (the obvious):
She needs a biography and a novel for the bus, because if she doesn’t feel like reading about a real person, she can switch to the novel, and vice versa. The essay and short story collections are for lunch: If she’s not in the mood for one, she can switch to the other.
“You’re going to tip over backwards from the weight of that backpack,” Lorelei observes. Maybe, but at least she’ll have plenty of reading material in her supine position.
Getting in trouble for reading?
It has been known to happen. I once almost got sent home from a birthday party for reading instead of, well, partying. I was eight. Rory is eight plus eight when she gets in trouble for reading at lunch, instead of participating in social activities. She’s contentedly preparing her lunch environment—food, book, headphones—when the Chilton guidance counselor interrupts her to ask for a meeting.
Rory is told she needs to engage more at school. She does, and ends up being caught breaking into the headmaster’s office for a sorority initiation ceremony. When threatened with suspension, she explodes: She never wanted to participate in the silly exercise to begin with and only did so at the headmaster’s insistence.
The episode ends full circle, with Rory reading at her lunch table … with one small difference: Another student, who also wants to read at lunch, sits down with her, and the girls read their individual books in companionable silence. Ah, sweet, sweet vindication.
Loving libraries, and the smell of books, better than anything.
During her sophomore year at Yale in season five, Rory hosts Anna, a Chilton student who is thinking of applying to Yale. The highlight of the Rory-designed tour features—what else?—the university library.
“The books,” Rory raves. “Are you seeing the books? Everything you’d ever want to read is right here. Feel it. Feels good, right? Now smell it. Nothing, nothing smells like that.”
I mean, obviously.
I’ll be back next week with five more. In the meantime, what are your favorite bookish moments from the Gilmore Girls series?