2020 Pop Culture Challenge: MY Rory Reading List

Okay, I’ve given my challenge lists some more thought, and I’ve decided to pare down the Rory Gilmore Reading List for my personal decade (or shorter) challenge.

Here’s what I’ve pulled from the list:

  • Anything I’ve read before. Yes, in my initial blog, I said I would re-read them in the spirit of the challenge, but, like, you guys, I just can’t handle The Grapes of Wrath or Crime and Punishment again. If you love those books, congrats to you and I’m sorry, but we are different, and I can’t and won’t subject myself to it. I’m not being graded on this challenge, and a grade was the only reason I forced myself to read those before.
  • Anything that’s clearly a movie/something else reference, NOT the book reference. Neither Lorelai nor Rory read The Godfather. Every time they mention The Godfather, they’re talking about the MOVIE, not the novel. The same is true for things like Cujo or The Shining (though I’ve already read The Shining, so that was taken care of in my first bullet point). Also, they mention Wicked in a whole thing about NYC, which is a Broadway reference, not a book reference (though I might still try to read that one).
  • Anything that’s a textbook, guidebook, or clearly associated with a character who is not Rory Gilmore. Emily and Richard’s travel guides to Europe and Lane’s discographies definitely fall into this category. I might read the Milton Friedman book, though. That is a textbook (when Rory takes Richard’s Economics class), but it sounds kind of interesting. I also left Sookie’s Sue Grafton novels in there that she takes skiing with her, but I reserve the right to yank those from the list later if, as she says in the episode, S is for Silence sucks.
  • Anything I know I’m just absolutely not going to read. Look, I get that this is a challenge and there are definitely some challenging things I’ve left on the list (I see you, Anna Karenina and Beowulf and anything by James Joyce), but I’m not going to set myself up for failure by pretending I’m going to read Swan’s Way or Dead Souls or Mencken’s Chrestomathy. It’s just not happening.
  • Anything I can’t find. Now, this one I won’t really know until I try, but there are some things on here that I question whether or not they’re still in print and/or readily available. I’ll cross those bridges as I come to them.

So, applying my own personal rules to this challenge, I got the list down from 339 to 200.

200 is still a lot of damn books, y’all. Especially since I left War and Peace on there. I decided I want to be one of those people who can actually say they’ve read War and Peace and mean it. It’s a weird flex, but I’m okay with it.

I know, Lore. I know. 😉

That means if I split the list up across the decade (2020-2029), I need to read 20 books from the list each year. This year, according to my GoodReads challenge, I’ve read 43 books and I have three more I’m trying to eek out by December 31. My goal for next year (and every year from now on) is 52 books – one book per week. If I go over, great, but I don’t want to fall under that.

Now, I’m also in a book club, and we read one book per month, and sadly nothing in our 2020 schedule is on Rory’s list. So, that’s another 12.

So between book club + the Rory challenge, that’s 32 books already decided for me. But if my goal is 52 books (or more) per year, that means I still have 20 books of my own to choose. Which feels totally reasonable and leaves me a good amount of space for fun/interesting/exciting books that I really want to read. (Sorry not sorry, anything by Dostoevsky. You’re only here because Rory has a weird Russian lit fetish.).

My plan right now is to just let a random number generator pick the book order for me. Spin the wheel, get the book, read it, spin the wheel again. That seems like a good way to ensure I don’t just cherry pick all the books I want to read (or the easy books) up front and save all the hard work for 9 years from now.

And the first book picked for me using this method is…

153. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

So there we have it. I guess I’ll be starting that book in January 2020 (assuming I can find a copy…it looks like I need to do an inter-library loan to get it…).

Okay, so, now, here is MY 200 Book Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge List:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  3. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  4. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  6. The Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
  7. The Art of Fiction by Henry James
  8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  9. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  10. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  11. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  12. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  13. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
  14. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  15. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  16. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
  17. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
  18. Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
  19. A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
  20. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  21. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  22. Candide by Voltaire
  23. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
  24. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  25. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  26. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
  27. The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
  28. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  29. Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
  30. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
  31. Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
  32. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  33. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  34. Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac
  35. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
  36. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
  37. David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
  38. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  39. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  40. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  41. Deenie by Judy Blume
  42. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  43. The Divine Comedy by Dante
  44. Don Quixote by Cervantes
  45. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  46. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  47. Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
  48. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  49. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
  50. Eloise by Kay Thompson
  51. Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
  52. Emma by Jane Austen
  53. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  54. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  55. Extravagance by Gary Krist
  56. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
  57. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  58. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  59. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  60. Fletch by Gregory McDonald
  61. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  62. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  63. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  64. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  65. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
  66. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  67. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  68. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
  69. The Group by Mary McCarthy
  70. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  71. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
  72. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
  73. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
  74. Henry V by William Shakespeare
  75. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  76. Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
  77. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
  78. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  79. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  80. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
  81. How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hyland
  82. I’m With the Band by Pamela des Barres
  83. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  84. Inferno by Dante
  85. Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
  86. It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  87. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  88. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  89. Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
  90. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
  91. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
  92. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  93. Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  94. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
  95. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  96. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  97. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  98. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  99. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  100. The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
  101. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  102. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  103. The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  104. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  105. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  106. The Manticore by Robertson Davies
  107. Marathon Man by William Goldman
  108. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  109. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
  110. Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
  111. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  112. The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  113. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  114. Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
  115. A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
  116. A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
  117. Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
  118. My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
  119. My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
  120. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  121. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  122. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  123. Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
  124. New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
  125. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  126. Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
  127. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  128. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  129. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  130. The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
  131. Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  132. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  133. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  134. Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
  135. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  136. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  137. The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
  138. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  139. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  140. Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
  141. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
  142. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  143. The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
  144. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
  145. Property by Valerie Martin
  146. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  147. Quattrocento by James Mckean
  148. A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
  149. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  150. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  151. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
  152. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  153. R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
  154. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  155. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  156. Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
  157. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
  158. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
  159. Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
  160. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  161. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
  162. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  163. Sexus by Henry Miller
  164. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  165. Shane by Jack Shaefer
  166. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  167. S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
  168. Small Island by Andrea Levy
  169. The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
  170. Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
  171. The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
  172. Songbook by Nick Hornby
  173. Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  174. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  175. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
  176. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  177. Stuart Little by E. B. White
  178. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  179. Time and Again by Jack Finney
  180. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  181. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
  182. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
  183. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  184. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  185. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
  186. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
  187. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  188. Ulysses by James Joyce
  189. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  190. Unless by Carol Shields
  191. The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
  192. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  193. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  194. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  195. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  196. What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
  197. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  198. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  199. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  200. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion