Gilmore Girls has held a special place in my life since the mid-December Wednesday evening I sat down to watch the pilot with my mum and sister when it aired in Australia in 2001. I was twelve-years-old and heading into my last summer before starting high school. Gilmore Girls gently helped usher me into this next step towards adulthood, popping up weekly throughout my first term of Grade 8 and the years beyond and showing me that a grown up world could still be filled with fun, laughter and books. So many books.
As a voracious young reader, Gilmore Girls had something special that I’d never seen before: a young female character who loved to read. It wasn’t an ugly duckling story, no, Rory had plenty of boys vying for her attention at the school dance, and she wasn’t a nerdy sidekick. Rory was a book-loving protagonist lauded for being clever and serious, sincere and sweet. She provided a scarce role model for girls my age, proving that a girl could be both studious and fun, passionate and pretty.
I’ve never taken on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, the task daunts even the most dedicated of readers. Independently I’ve read 49 of the 339 books Rory was shown or mentioned to be reading throughout the seven seasons. While I’m not too concerned with working through the entire list myself (though it makes a great companion at the library when choosing what to borrow) I have been wondering what Rory Gilmore would have made of the literature of the past decade.
What hundreds of books would have been added to her list in that time? Certainly Obama’s memoirs, and perhaps now Trump’s. Would she have read the fiction of Anna North, Meg Wolitzer, Chad Harbach and Jesse Ball, these real writers who would have been her contemporaries?
Being that I work so much with Queensland and Australian writers, I wonder which of our nation’s voices she would have taken in. Would she have found Charlotte Wood, Ellen van Neerven and Maxine Beneba Clarke? I hope so.
Where would she land on the ethical dilemmas of reading Go Set a Watchman or the uncovering of Ferrante’s identity? Would she have come back to YA as so many of us have, shedding tears at The Fault in Our Stars, journeying through space in Illuminae, falling hard for the liars in We Were Liars?
While these many questions won’t all be answered, I’m excited to dip back into the world of Gilmore Girls tomorrow, to get just a hint at what Rory’s been reading and a refresher in smart, sassy women characters. To see how many books can be added to that list over six hours of television.