Recommendations from Rory Gilmore’s Reading List
By Lauren Jones, Rowan Jackson, Zoe Doyle, Amy Wright, and Ana Matute
As winter draws nearer and the days become shorter, we’re chasing that cosy autumnal vibe. Everyone knows some of the best autumn activities include curling up with a good book or a familiar TV show so this issue we’ve decided to combine the two. Read on to discover our top picks from Rory Gilmore’s reading list. We also recommend you take a leaf out of Rory and Lorelai’s book and have a huge mug of coffee at the same time to stave off those winter chills!
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
The fictional island of Nollop, a place where education and language are treasured, is named for Nevin Nollop, the man credited with inventing the pangram “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” But when a letter falls from this pangram on the commemorative statue of Nollop, the High Island Council understands it as a divine message and decides the letter should be erased from the alphabet, never to be used again. As more and more letters fall, the island becomes a dangerous place. The fate of those remaining rests on Ella Minnow Pea’s shoulders.
The story is told through a series of letters, and uses this to cleverly show the consequences of censorship. Dunn’s novel addresses big topics such as loyalty, freedom of speech and power – it’s a must read if you’re ready to grapple with such themes!
Emma by Jane Austen
Another book from Rory Gilmore’s reading list is Emma by Jane Austen, which tells the story of the imperfect yet likeable Emma Woodhouse. Despite having little interest in marriage herself, Emma finds enjoyment in matchmaking and believes herself to be good at it. Yet, through doing so, she interferes and causes problems not only for her friends, but also for herself. If you have seen an adaption of this popular Austen novel, you will be aware of the humour that is present throughout the story, which is very much also in the novel too. Furthermore, it is a book that is perhaps appreciated most when read for the second time, as Austen makes a lot of subtle hints that may not be fully understood upon the first read. If you are looking for a witty and charming read this Autumn, we would highly recommend Emma.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is a well-known classic exploring themes of obsession, pride, hubris and the fundamental flaws in humanity. Occasionally referred to as the first science-fiction novel, Frankenstein tells the story of a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who becomes consumed with the desire to discover a new way of creating life. Victor’s obsessive dedication to this research results in the creation of a creature which he is immediately horrified by and rejects, leaving the creature alone and naive to the ways of the world. What follows is a moving yet chilling portrayal of the impact of science, the prejudices of humanity and the effects of mistreatment, conveying important societal messages whilst encompassing the atmosphere and themes of the gothic genre – perfect for Halloween season!
In addition to questioning scientific and technical advances in society at the time, Mary Shelley also questions human nature and the theme of nature vs nurture, which to this day is still a complex and important outlook on a person’s development. Frankenstein explores the idea that no one is born “monstrous,” rather it is a person’s experience which informs their development.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A novel that you will either love or hate. Perfect for laughing all afternoon, A Confederacy of Dunces is narrated by Ignatius, a very selfish and grotesque character. It is very well written, and it is the way the character is created that allows such literary finesse to be displayed. This is also shown through his development throughout the novel, which illustrates a viewpoint that does not respect anything at a level you may hate.
This novel has an interesting critique of consumerism and a humoristic style to present the world. Besides that, it’s very recommended to all editors to ask ourselves if we were the editor who received this novel, would we have published it?
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
In the debut novel that catapulted her to literary stardom, Allende weaves the story of the Trueba family across generations, spanning social and political upheaval in an unnamed South American country and chronicling their struggles, misfortunes and triumphs. Three generations of strong, intuitive women are central to the story: Clara, the enchanting clairvoyant who catches the eye of the violent Esteban; Blanca, their daughter, who falls in love with a man below her station; and Alba, Blanca’s daughter who becomes involved with revolutionaries. There is a strong undercurrent of magical realism and elements of the whimsical typical of classic Latin American literature that runs throughout the novel, despite its often brutal themes. Although at its heart The House of the Spirits is an epic family saga, it remains a complex story that explores class-conflicts, the cycle of violence and social unrest.