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If you adore the fast-talking, book-loving heroine of Stars Hollow, you’re not alone! Since time has passed since the final episodes of Gilmore Girls, literary fans like me can’t help but want to explore what books would Rory read today. For the top picks, dive into this list of both classics and contemporary books that would undoubtedly captivate our favorite bibliophile.

luke's diner mug with books: hello beautiful, if we were villains, and demon copperhead

A fan of both Gilmore Girls and books, I’ve run The Rory Gilmore Book Club for several years now, in which we take the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge to read from the list of 500+ books on the Gilmore Girls reading list.

What Rory Gilmore would read today is one popular topic that’s always top of mind in our book club. So, the thousands of members and I brainstormed this list of top picks. I had most of them in mind already (as I have read them all), so it was great to see other club members reinforce these recommendations.

Here, you will find everything from classics that surprisingly weren’t mentioned on the show to modern pop culture favorites and contemporary character-driven fiction (many with nods to the classics) that all hearken to Rory’s unique personality and literary tastes.

Top 2 Picks

TOP PICKS

My top pick is Anna K, because it’s a sharp, modern, and diverse adaptation of Rory’s favorite book, the Russian classic, Anna Karenina. I think she would love this fresh take on her favorite book.

Members of my book club, The Rory Gilmore Book Club, voted for The Secret History as their top pick. It’s a dark academia must-read with a New England setting and very scholastic characters like Gilmore Girls, but also with the depth of literary fiction that Rory would appreciate.

Quick List of All the Books Rory Gilmore Would Read

First, if you’re extra curious or in a rush, below is a quick, shoppable list of all the books that made the list.

  1. Anna K by Jenny Lee
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  3. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
  4. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
  5. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
  6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  7. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  9. Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
  10. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  11. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  12. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  13. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  14. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  15. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Details on All the Books Rory Gilmore Would Read

Anna K by Jenny Lee

National indie bestseller

Anna K is a sharp, modern, and diverse adaptation of the Russian classic, Anna Karenina.

It takes the reader to upper-class Manhattan, where wealthy teens are behaving badly. At the center is Anna, a Korean-American coping with an over-protective father, a brother in the midst of a sexting scandal, and so much more when she meets bad boy Vronsky. This tale of first love and growing up has the power to threaten the seemingly picture-perfect lives of these rich teens.

I found it to have salacious Gossip Girl vibes, yet still captured the original story well (and reading it actually made it easier for me to read the original thereafter too).

Why Rory would read this book: Rory’s favorite book is Anna Karenina, so I can’t imagine her NOT reading Anna K, especially since it offers diversity that wasn’t as well represented in the books referenced on Gilmore Girls decades ago.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is the first in the classic series for kids and kids at heart, introducing the reader to the 11-year-old red-headed orphaned spitfire named Anne Shirley as she arrives at the Canadian home of aging adult siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

With a fierce temper and colorful imagination, Anne makes an impression on the Cuthberts and the townspeople. It has a light academic setting in which Anne learns to focus on her studies, later attending the Queen’s Academy and earning a college scholarship.

Why Rory would read this book: Being such a popular classic (with several film adaptations) and so academic in its storyline, Anne of Green Gables is the number one book I’ve always thought SHOULD have been mentioned on Gilmore Girls. Now, I picture Rory reading it with her child.

Related Post: Anne of Green Gables Book Series Guide


Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

  • Now an HBO documentary series streaming on HBO Max 
  • One of the Best Books of the Year by Time, NPR, Washington Post, Bloomsburg News, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, and more
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
  • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography
  • Indie Bound #1 Bestseller
  • USA Today Bestseller
  • Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Catch and Kill is the non-fiction work of daring journalism that revealed the full story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator. Farrow’s risky investigation threatened his livelihood, and arguably even his life, but ultimately led to a worldwide movement that empowered survivors of sexual abuse, particularly in Hollywood.

I found it to be a detailed, and oftentimes suspenseful, account that went far beyond the headlines and was well worth reading, especially in audio format, since it has that feel of podcast journalism.

Why Rory would read this book: Catch and Kill is one of the first books that comes to mind when I think of what Rory Gilmore would read today. She would appreciate it both as a journalist and a pop culture enthusiast.


Crying in H Mary by Michelle Zauner

  • New York Times bestseller
  • A best book of the year: Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal, and more

Crying in H Mart is the heartbreaking, yet unforgettable, memoir of the indie rockstar in the band Japanese Breakfast about her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis and death, which formed her own identity as a Korean-American adult.

It’s uniquely the story of a complex mother/daughter relationship — one more Korean and the other more American, and how the mother’s death forever changes the daughter.

This extremely popular book is an absolutely flawless portrait of mothers and daughters, plus so much more.

Why Rory would read this book: With her bonds to her own mother, Rory would undoubtedly gravitate to this bestselling memoir, as so many other avid readers did. It’s also reminiscent of the life of her best friend, Lane.


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction
  • A New York Times “Ten Best Books of 2022”
  • Instant New York Times Bestseller
  • Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller 
  • #1 Washington Post Bestseller
  • Oprah’s Book Club pick

Demon Copperhead is a modern-day re-telling of the classic David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, which is on the Gilmore Girls book list.

It’s a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story told by the titular character, who grew up poor in Appalachia, both in the foster system and completely surrounded by addiction and death.

Demon Copperhead is a modern masterpiece, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in many years. It’s an especially good pick for fans of slowly burning literary fiction with exquisite prose. Its protagonist is so well-written that readers may even mistake it for a memoir!

Why Rory would read this book: David Copperfield is referenced in class on Rory’s first day at Chilton. She’d love to follow it up with a reading of Demon Copperhead, especially since Oprah recommended it and it became a very popular bestseller.

Related Post: Demon Copperhead Discussion Questions | Demon Copperhead Review


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

New York Times bestseller (with more than 2 million readers)

A Gentleman in Moscow is the epic character-driven tale of a man (“The Count”) sentenced to house arrest in a glamourous Russian hotel. Over decades of time, he changes and finds purpose based on his circumstances and those he meets in his very limited world.

Both the Count and the hotel are absolutely unforgettable! I say this with conviction because both have remained top of mind for me over the course of several years since I first read it.

Why Rory would read this book: While Towles isn’t a Russian author, his Russian setting would captivate Rory as a fan of Russian literature. Since this is such a popular book for fans of literary fiction, I can’t imagine Rory would miss it.

Related Post: Book Club Questions for A Gentleman in Moscow


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

  • National bestseller
  • Women’s Prize for Fiction Winner
  • National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
  • “Novel of the Year” at the Dalkey Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize
  • Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

Set in England during the late 1580s, Hamnet is loosely based on the death of William Shakespeare’s eleven-year-old son from “The Black Death,” which inspired his famous play, Hamlet, about an opposing scenario in which a son grieves his father, King Hamlet.

As evidenced by the awards it’s received, it’s an absolute work of literary art with meticulous plotting, heavy use of literary devices, and a very lush, literary writing style that will linger with you long after the final page. As a Shakespeare fan myself, it was easily one of my own favorite books I have read in the last few years.

Why Rory would read this book: Shakespeare is the most referenced author on Gilmore Girls, and season two’s episode sixteen is even named after a line from Hamlet: “There’s the Rub.”

Related Post: Book Club Questions for Hamnet


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic dystopian novel set in a theocratic totalitarian society called the Republic of Gilead, which has replaced the United States. In this bleak future, fertile women, known as “Handmaids”, are forced into reproductive servitude to combat declining birth rates. Through the eyes of Offred, a Handmaid, the novel explores themes of power, resistance, and the roles of women.

It’s one of those not-so-old classics that seems to resonate more by the day. I read it by way of the Audible exclusive narrated by actress Claire Danes, and I definitely recommend the same. Difficult classics like dystopian fiction can be much easier to consume through the voice of a talented actor.

Why Rory would read this book: The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular, and so at the forefront of women’s rights, that it’s often confused as being on the Gilmore Girls reading list. It’s not! But, I definitely agree that it should be. Also, maybe this is a bit of “cheating,” but Alexis Bledel, who plays Rory, also stars in the recent TV adaptation of this novel.


Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

In Hello Beautiful, William escapes a tragic family past when he meets a woman named Julia who lifts his spirits, along with her three unique sisters, who hail from a loving family, hearkening to the sisterhood set forth in Little Women.

When the past resurfaces, William’s, Julia’s, and all the Padavano’s lives are inexplicably changed for generations.

It’s an epic family saga told in beautiful literary prose that imparts masterfully woven themes of family, love, anger, forgiveness, and so much more through characters that feel real. It was one of my top reads of 2023.

Why Rory would read this book: Since Little Women is on the Gilmore Girls reading list, and since Hello Beautiful is a popular bestseller that Oprah recommended, I definitely think Rory would pick it up.

Related Post: Guide to Hello Beautiful


If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

One of Bustle’s Best Thriller Novels of the Year

If We Were Villains is a school-based murder mystery about a group of Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory. It’s a passionate environment of immersive theater, where a night of drunken debauchery leads to the death of their own.

And Oliver, a member of the group who has been imprisoned for the murder for ten years, is finally ready to tell the truth about what happened.

With parallels to Shakespearean tragedies and their extreme emotions running throughout, it’s a daring and ambitious coming-of-age novel that truly delivers. I found it to be deeply satisfying as a fan of both Shakespeare and mysteries.

Why Rory would read this book: Also a fan of Shakespeare, Rory would indulge in the many references to his tragedies woven throughout this modern fan favorite.

Related Post: Guide to If We Were Villains


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Good Morning America Book Club pick
  • A best book of the year: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek

Set in the 1950s to 1960s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a strong, self-assured, self-educated woman who becomes a chemist at a male-dominated research institute. There, she meets and falls in love with another chemist, but life soon leaves her to be a single, jobless mother.

She reluctantly and unexpectedly becomes the star of a hit cooking show on TV, where she is able to intermingle her love of science and challenge women to change the status quo. However, her entire career trajectory is an uphill battle against sexism, both explicit and implicit.

It was one of my own personal favorite books of its publication year, particularly as I love an eccentric female protagonist like Elizabeth Zott.

Why Rory would read this book: Besides being so widely popular, Rory would love the feminist themes in Lessons in Chemistry, and the quirky mothering style of Elizabeth Zott would remind her of her own mother, Lorelai. Lastly, the time period also hearkens to one of her favorites, The Donna Reed Show.


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

New York Times bestseller

My Brilliant Friend begins a historical fiction series of four books, set in the decades that followed World War II in the slums of Naples, Italy. As the name suggests, it’s about a lifelong friendship between two girls, both of whom are smart, but only one of whom becomes educated.

It’s my own favorite book of all time. The reader explores the highs and lows of each character, and everything from their best traits to their absolute worst is uncovered over decades of time. It’s an absolute masterclass in character development that makes you fall in love with the writing of the secretive author.

Why Rory would read this book: I thought of Rory from early in this series, when the two girls shared a copy of Little Women. One of the two, Elena, is also an extremely studious reader and writer — just like Rory.


Normal People by Sally Rooney

  • Now an Emmy-nominated Hulu series
  • New York Times bestseller
  • One of the ten best novels of the decade: Entertainment Weekly
  • Ten best books of the year: People, Slate, The New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson
  • Best books of the year: The New York TimesThe New York Times Book Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire, Vox, The Paris Review, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country

Normal People is a popular literary fiction love story. In high school, Connell is popular, and so he hides his relationship with introverted, unpopular Marianne. In college, the tables have turned, and so begins years of a cat-and-mouse chase between two people who love each other but seemingly never the right way at the right time.

This is a book that people either love or love to hate. I happened to love it. I think some readers’ hatred comes directly from the characters themselves — they are really flawed, and they often get it all wrong. Ironically, that’s actually what makes it one of my favorite love stories — it feels real.

Why Rory would read this book: Normal People places on full display the struggles of modern young relationships between flawed characters that can never seem to get it right. I mean, that sounds a lot like Rory’s love life, doesn’t it?!


The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History is one of the most popular books for book lovers of the past few decades. Set in a New England college in the 1980s, it follows an outsider who makes friends with a unique group of students obsessed with the classics to the point that it leads them down a very dark path of morally questionable behavior.

It somehow delivers both character development and a suspenseful, forward-moving plot. The reader can clearly envision each character and their motivations in this unforgettable story. I had mental images of each of them while reading it!

Why Rory would read this book: Members of The Rory Gilmore Book Club, voted for The Secret History as their top pick. I attribute this to its New England setting and very scholastic characters like Gilmore Girls. It also has the depth of literary fiction that Rory would appreciate.


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

  • #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon
  • More than fifteen million copies sold worldwide
  • Business Insider “Defining Book of the Decade
  • Reese’s Book Club pick

Where the Crawdads Sing is the wildly bestselling coming-of-age story of a woman raised in a marsh, including both a mystery and a love story that faces a lot of real-life challenges.

If you haven’t read it yet, you just may be the only one! It’s a satisfying mix of genres with suspense and emotion.

Why Rory would read this book: This is a book I can definitely see Rory reading with Lorelai and/or Emily for book club since it’s such a pop culture phenomenon that spans generations of readers, most of whom are female. I can also see Rory casually mentioning “the marsh girl” in everyday life.


Conclusion

Rory Gilmore’s insatiable appetite for literature has always been a cornerstone of her character on Gilmore Girls, reminding us of the power of the written word. As the literary landscape shifts and evolves since the final episodes, recommending what Rory Gilmore would read today is a fun new type of reading challenge for literary fans.

To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, the top 2 picks are:

  • Anna K by Jenny Lee, because it’s a sharp, modern, and diverse adaptation of Rory’s favorite book, the Russian classic, Anna Karenina; and
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt, because it has a New England setting and very scholastic characters like Gilmore Girls, as well as the depth of literary fiction that Rory would appreciate.

Are there any other books you think Rory would definitely be reading right now? Share them in the comments below this post.

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