The Many (Many) Literary References of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Posted by Danielle Mohlman


Like most of you, we spent the Thanksgiving weekend reheating leftovers and marathoning episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. After nearly a decade away from Rory Gilmore and her voracious reading habits, we were eager to catch up with the residents of Stars Hollow and the books they’ve been devouring.

**Mild spoilers ahead! Haven’t finished the series? Head over to Luke’s Diner and stream the rest of the show. We hear he’s giving out his wifi password now.**



Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

When Rory and Lorelai bound into Rory’s childhood bedroom in the first episode of the series, we spot the complete Nancy Drew series on Rory’s bookshelf. True, the mere fact that they’re on this specific shelf means Rory hasn’t touched the bright yellow spines in years. But it’s a nod to her constant companions in episodes past. After all, Rory never leaves the house without a book.


Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Clearly Lorelai Gilmore has been keeping up with the controversial history of Harper Lee’s long lost To Kill a Mockingbird draft. When Rory asks her why some of her storage boxes are open, Lorelai cops to poking through her daughter’s belongings. Alluding to the too convenient discovery of Lee’s long lost manuscript, Lorelai claims that she was hoping to find a prequel to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in Rory’s things. A prequel where – and this is a huge wink to Watchman’s gratuitously racist Atticus – Huck Finn is a Klan leader.


When Everything Changed by Gail Collins

As Rory starts to relay her journalistic demise to her mother – over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table, of course – she mentions that she attacked Gail Collins. Well, she wasn’t really attacking her, she explained. She was going in for a hug. But how was Gail supposed to remember her after all these years? It’s the closest the revival comes to acknowledging Rory Gilmore’s stint as a political journalist on the campaign trail of then Senator Barack Obama.


Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

At Richard Gilmore’s funeral, we see a prominently displayed copy of Leaves of Grass. While we know Richard was a Whitman fan, this particular tome is heavy with significance. In season five, Richard brought back a copy of Leaves of Grass (in Greek!) as a present to Rory. It’s over 100 years old, leather bound, and filled with gorgeous engravings. It’s display at the funeral is a beautiful tribute to both Richard and actor Edward Herrmann.


On the Road by Jack Karouac

At the first Friday night dinner of the revival, Emily Gilmore asks Rory where she’s living these days. Rory vaguely alludes to staying with Lane (and her twin boys), crashing at Paris’ place (with all those stairs), staying with her friend Didi in London (we still want to know how she afforded those flights), and crashing in her childhood bedroom. While the logistics alone seem to be giving Emily a headache, Lorelai is taking the whole thing in stride. “She’s On the Road-ing it. Pass the peyote!”


The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Hands down our favorite literary reference in the series is Emily Gilmore’s enthusiastic response to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Emily’s home becomes uncharacteristically lively when her maid Berta’s friends and family show up to help Emily purge every item that violates Marie Kondo’s rules. When Lorelai asks where the dining room tables are running off too, Emily simply shrugs and says “They don’t bring me joy.” She then holds a gorgeous beaded dress arms-length away, mentally evaluating every memory the garment holds. “No joy,” she announces as she throws it into a box.