Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of reading challenges. I’ve often found them counterproductive and I see myself suffer because of the challenge I’m trying. But in the last few years, the internet has been obsessed with The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. Although challenges are often hard for me, I think this one could really stick.
In high school, I fell in love with Gilmore Girls. I loved the small town vibes, the witty characters, the humor. But most of all, I loved how much Rory loved reading. In each episode she was carrying a new book or talking about what she had just read. Truthfully, I was in awe at how many books she had read.
Now, fast forward about ten years and I am still in awe of her incredibly impressive reading list. The original Rory Gilmore challenge contains 339 books, which is every book mentioned throughout the show’s seven seasons. But the challenge has been updated to include the books mentioned in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, so the list now tops off at 408 titles. Big Yike.
As someone who isn’t necessarily into reading challenges, here is why I’m undertaking one of the internet’s biggest reading lists.
It’s a Flexible Challenge
When I do reading challenges, I often get stuck that every single book I read needs to fit into the challenge. I get so laser focused on making my reading fit my challenge, not letting the challenge fit my reading. I also have a tendency to try to finish books quickly or read lots of short books to get a challenge completed, rather than just enjoying them.
With the challenge containing over 400 books, this challenge is more about the journey than the destination. From the start, I know this isn’t a challenge I’m going to finish in one year. I’m certainly an ambitious reader, but even I have my limits. If I finish this by the time I’m 30, I’m calling that a win.
For me, I’m going to use this challenge as a starting point for my reading. When I’m not sure what to read next, I can pick a title off the list. If I’m not feeling the book I’m reading, I have a whole host of books to move on to.
The best part for me is this: Every book that I read this year isn’t going to come off this list. I realistically don’t have to be perfect all the time. I know I want to make time for the new book Gilmore Girls actor Lauren Graham is working on, and my very slow of East of Eden that has been happening over the last six months. Because there is no way to get it finished this year, there is no pressure for perfection.
Keeping Me Out of Reading Slumps
We all go through reading slumps and hardships in our reading journeys, but last year in particular was hard for me. In 2020, I read a record number of books for myself and started 2021 off super motivated. But as the year continued, I went through some of the longest reading slumps I’ve experienced as a reader.
This year, I want to stay more consistent with my reading and get back into this great habit I’ve built. I know that when I set aside time for reading, I’m more positive and productive in my day. Reading helps me keep both my mental and physical health on track. If you’ve never tried working out to an audiobook, allow me to change your life right here and now.
Although this is a challenge, I’m really viewing this list as a resource to help me stay consistent with my reading. I can never be at a loss for titles to read and this will give me a little jump start to keep me motivated. Plus, if I start getting into a slump, an episode of Gilmore Girls might be able to pull me right out.
Motivating Me to Read More Classics
One of the things that puts people off from this challenge is the amount of classics on this list. People get a little intimated that a high schooler was supposedly reading War and Peace and Judith Butler’s critical theory. But, I am someone who thrives on a good classic.
As someone who just graduated college last year with a degree in English, this is the first time in my life where I haven’t been required to read the classics. As much as I love them, I’m not always motivated to pick this up on my own, even if I’ve always wanted to read them.
With the sheer volume of classics on this list, I’m excited to pick up some titles I’ve always wanted to try. The list contains everything from Brave New World to Henry V and The House of the Spirits to The Iliad. I’m hoping this challenge keeps me on track to read some of the great books I’ve always wanted to try.
Getting Out of My Comfort Zone
One of the greatest things about Rory’s reading taste is that is all over the board. There is a little bit of everything on this reading list. A fan of poetry? The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton and work by Walt Whitman make the list. Is comedy more your style? She’s read Me Talk Pretty One Day and The Nanny Diaries.
Maybe novels aren’t for you, but you love reading plays. She’s reading A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, and a quarter of Shakespeare’s collected works. Or maybe you like long, long novels that take people a lifetime to read. Pick up Moby Dick or Crime and Punishment.
The other section I’m thrilled about are the completely random books that make no sense in the context of the others. How Rory managed to squeeze He’s Just Not That Into You and a Motley Crue biography in with all these classics is a great mystery. But who knows, maybe some of these more eclectic ones will turn out to be my new favorites.
Catching That Romantic Gilmore Girls Energy
For many who still watch Gilmore Girls, the energy and mood of the show are really what drive their love. The show romanticizes small town life, drinking coffee on a fall morning, and hanging in the town square with a good book. The simple life is full of wonderful music, beautiful books, and people you can always count on.
A lot of us wished we lived in a small town like Stars Hallow, with the crazy town meetings, goofy neighbors, and endlessly good coffee. But the internet has started a new trend of romanticizing your own life rather than envying the lives of others. My life doesn’t have to be picture perfect, but I can enjoy reading a classic novel at my local coffee shop or playing my audiobook on a nice walk.
Instead of wishing I lived in a fictional universe, I’m hoping to bring a little bit of that magic and spark to my own life. Maybe I can’t bring it all, but I feel like reading a good book is always the right place to start.