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13th October 2023

A Gilmore Girls guide to autumn reading

We’ve used Gilmore Girls’ constant bookish references as inspiration for some autumnal book recommendations. Read on for five cozy Rory book recommendations!
A Gilmore Girls guide to autumn reading
Photo: Anthony Quintano @ Wikimedia Commons

As the weather grows colder, there’s nothing better than curling up on the sofa to watch Gilmore Girls. The close-knit mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory has captured viewers’ hearts since the early 2000s. The combination of the quick-witted dialogue, lovable characters, and the idyllic setting of Stars Hollow has earned Gilmore Girls its spot as the ultimate comfort show.

Rory is beloved as the smart, shy character who is hardly ever shown without a book in hand. She even says that she “Lives in two worlds. One is a world of books.” Over the course of the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, Rory mentions or is seen reading over 400 books, so who better to take recommendations from?

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Rory reads Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert in the first episode of season one after she decides she doesn’t want to go to the prep school Chilton. Her uncharacteristically rebellious decision makes Madame Bovary a very fitting choice of book to read, considering the protagonist’s own questionable decisions.

Madame Bovary follows a young French woman named Emma Bovary who, bored of her husband, embarks on several affairs. When it was published in 1857, the infidelity horrified readers and the novel was ultimately banned for some time. However, it has now been reclaimed as an innovative classic because of its morally ambiguous protagonist and its exploration of a realist French society. Madame Bovary is an ideal classic for non-classic readers who want to read something different.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

It’s no surprise that Rory is a fan of Jane Austen, one of the world’s most influential authors. In season one, Rory encourages her boyfriend Dean to read Northanger Abbey, claiming that “he needs to read Austen.” Northanger Abbey follows a naïve Catherine Morland as she falls in love with the charming Henry Tilney, but she soon discovers some unsettling secrets.

Austen played with the gothic genre by both embracing and satirising it. Although Northanger Abbey is one of her lesser-known novels, it is just as entertaining, its gothic theme makes it ideal for the darker months.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Rory reads Atonement by Ian McEwan during season four when she first starts at Yale University. Season four is a transitionary period for Rory and involves several poor decisions, but reading Atonement is not one of them. Published in 2001, Atonement became critically acclaimed and was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, and James McAvoy.

Atonement is set across three time periods starting in 1930s England, through to World War II and the present day. It examines the repercussions of 12-year-old Briony’s unsettling confession and how it forever alters the lives of those around her. Atonement is an intriguing but ultimately devastating novel that is perfect for readers who are hoping to completely escape into a book.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Rory’s reading choices are nothing if not varied, which is demonstrated by her reading Like Water for Chocolate by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel, translated by Carol and Thomas Christenson. It is a magical realist novel that is told in instalments, each one with a recipe attached to it. Like Water for Chocolate follows the youngest daughter, Tita, who is forbidden by her mother from marrying her beloved Pedro. Feeling hopeless, Tita turns to cooking as an expression of her forbidden love and desire.

Unlike Gilmore Girls, Like Water for Chocolate depicts a mother-daughter relationship fraught with struggle. It is also an intricate exploration of female sexuality and the social expectations of women.

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

In the final season of Gilmore Girls, Rory commends her friend on their choice of popular Chilean author Isabel Allende. Allende’s most famous novel is The House of the Spirits, which began as a letter to her 100-year-old dying grandfather. The letter then became a manuscript for her first novel.

The House of the Spirits spans four generations of a family during a period of change in South America. It focuses on Clara and Alba, who are connected through their involvement with the ruthless patriarchal power in the family, Esteban. It employs magical realism, but also explores issues of class and women’s roles in a patriarchal society.

After rewatching Gilmore Girls for the seventh time, take a break and try embodying Rory by reading some of her bookish recommendations.

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