In Gilmore Girls, aka the best show ever written, bright-eyed Rory Gilmore is continually seen reading a wide array of books. Whether in preparation for Harvard or for her time at Yale, she is always improving herself via literature. Juxtapose this with Patrick Lenton, who found himself re-reading The Wheel of Time for the seventeenth time, grimly hoping the ingrained misogyny might somehow disappear if he just believed hard enough. What happened to his days of challenging himself? What about that one time he read Moby Dick and felt good for eight years? Patrick decided to take a leaf out of Rory’s books and read Rory’s books.

I’ve actually tried to read the Bhagavad Gita before, back in university. I was doing this amazing course in Indian literature, and it was really blowing me away. And then I had to read this epic saga of mythological badassery, the Bhagavad Gita, and I thought, ‘yeah, this is gonna be great, I loved The Silmarillion’. I’m sorry if it is offensive that I likened the Bhagavad Gita to The Silmarillion.

At various points in time, I thought I was really dumb. Like psychotically dumb. Like so dumb that it was this weird oversight that people hadn’t worked it out yet and kicked me out of school. A lot of this comes from my sheer inability to do maths. Maths I no can do. I regularly freeze in the face of maths. My bag is full of coins, because I find it difficult to get the correct change under the immense pressure of the retail environment. I really can’t do maths. So yeah, I thought I was dumb. At various times at uni, I thought I was a ding dong who didn’t understand Foucault. A friend of mine also thought I was an idiot, until one day I drunkenly argued with a judge from the Pulitzer Prize, and my friend thought my points were intelligent, and just like that, I was no longer a drongo to him. I still suspected that I might be a stealth dummy.

By the time I’d reached my Indian lit course, I felt pretty stable in my opinions of my own smartitude. I was no super genius, but I knew which way to buckle up a pair of pants. Reading the Bhagavad Gita made me question that all over again. I just didn’t get it. There were a thousand names; a thousand things that happen. It’s all very violent and there are battles and demons, and when I say it like this, it all sounds cool. But I didn’t understand what was happening. For some reason Ghandi was inspired by the Gita, even though I’m fairly sure it’s 90 per cent about dismembering people in rivers. So, in conclusion, I’m a dum dum.

I find it interesting that Rory is kind of TOLD that she is super smart, probably before she really exhibited that much in the way of super-smart evidence. It seems to be a part of Lorelai’s own self-image: ‘look at me, I raised her alone and LOOK at her, she’s better than anybody else!’ Which is why I think Lorelai gets so disappointed when Rory does dumb things that remind Lorelai of dumb things that she’s done. Like the time Rory slept with ol’ married Dean.

Luckily for everyone in Gilmore Girls, Rory did turn out to be incredibly smart, and I’d say a lot of that came from the constant support and reassurance and just a liiiiiiitle bit of pushing. So, well done Lorelai.

 

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Curious to see the full reading list? Here you go:

1.) 1984 by George Orwell
2.) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3.) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
4.) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
5.) An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
6.) Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
7.) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
8.) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
9.) The Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
10.) The Art of Fiction by Henry James
11.) The Art of War by Sun Tzu
12.) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
13.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
14.) Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
15.) The Awakening by Kate Chopin
16.) Babe by Dick King-Smith
17.) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
18.) Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
19.) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
20.) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
21.) Beloved by Toni Morrison
22.) Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
23.) The Bhagavad Gita
24.) Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
25.) 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
26.) A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
27.) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
28.) Brick Lane by Monica Ali
29.) Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
30.) Candide by Voltaire
31.) The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
32.) Carrie by Stephen King
33.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
34.) The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
35.) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
36.) The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
37.) Christine by Stephen King
38.) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
39.) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
40.) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
41.) The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
42.) A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
43.) Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
44.) The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
45.) Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
46.) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
47.) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
48.) Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
49.) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
50.) The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
51.) The Crucible by Arthur Miller
52.) Cujo by Stephen King
53.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
54.) Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
55.) David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
56.) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
57.) The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
58.) Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
59.) Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
60.) Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
61.) Deenie by Judy Blume
62.) The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
63.) The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
64.) The Divine Comedy by Dante
65.) The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
66.) Don Quixote by Cervantes
67.) Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
68.) Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
69.) Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
70.) Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
71.) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
72.) Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
73.) Eloise by Kay Thompson
74.) Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
75.) Emma by Jane Austen
76.) Empire Falls by Richard Russo
77.) Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
78.) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
79.) Ethics by Spinoza
80.) Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
81.) Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
82.) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
83.) Extravagance by Gary Krist
84.) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
85.) Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
86.) The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
87.) Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
88.) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
89.) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
90.) Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
91.) The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
92.) Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
93.) Fletch by Gregory McDonald
94.) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
95.) The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
96.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
97.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
98.) Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
99.) Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
100.) Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
101.) Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
102.) George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
103.) Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
104.) Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
105.) The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
106.) The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
107.) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
108.) Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
109.) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
110.) The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
111.) The Graduate by Charles Webb
112.) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
113.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
114.) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
115.) The Group by Mary McCarthy
116.) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
117.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
118.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
119.) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
120.) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
121.) Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Cut Gentry
122.) Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
123.) Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
124.) Henry V by William Shakespeare
125.) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
126.) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
127.) Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
128.) The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
129.) House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
130.) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
131.) How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
132.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
133.) How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
134.) Howl by Allen Ginsberg
135.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
136.) The Iliad by Homer
137.) I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
138.) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
139.) Inferno by Dante
140.) Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
141.) Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
142.) It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
143.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
144.) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
145.) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
146.) The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
147.) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
148.) Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
149.) The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
150.) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
151.) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
152.) Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
153.) The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
154.) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
155.) The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
156.) Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
157.) Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
158.) Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
159.) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
160.) Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
161.) The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
162.) The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
163.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
164.) Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
165.) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
166.) The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
167.) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
168.) The Love Story by Erich Segal
169.) Macbeth by William Shakespeare
170.) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
171.) The Manticore by Robertson Davies
172.) Marathon Man by William Goldman
173.) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
174.) Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
175.) Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
176.) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
177.) The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
178.) Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
179.) The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
180.) The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
181.) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
182.) The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
183.) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
184.) The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
185.) Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
186.) A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
187.) Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
188.) A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
189.) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
190.) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
191.) Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
192.) My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
193.) My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
194.) My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
195.) Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
196.) My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
197.) The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
198.) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
199.) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
200.) The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
201.) Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
202.) New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
203.) The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
204.) Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
205.) Night by Elie Wiesel
206.) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
207.) The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
208.) Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
209.) Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
210.) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
211.) Old School by Tobias Wolff
212.) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
213.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
214.) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
215.) The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
216.) Oracle Night by Paul Auster
217.) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
218.) Othello by Shakespeare
219.) Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
220.) The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
221.) Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
222.) The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
223.) A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
224.) The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
225.) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
226.) Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
227.) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
228.) Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
229.) Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
230.) Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
231.) The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
232.) The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
233.) The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
234.) The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
235.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
236.) Property by Valerie Martin
237.) Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
238.) Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
239.) Quattrocento by James Mckean
240.) A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
241.) Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
242.) The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
243.) The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
244.) Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
245.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
246.) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
247.) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
248.) Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
249.) The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
250.) R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
251.) Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
252.) Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
253.) Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
254.) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
255.) A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
256.) A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
257.) Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
258.) The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
259.) Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
260.) Sanctuary by William Faulkner
261.) Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
262.) Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
263.) The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
264.) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
265.) Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
266.) The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
267.) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
268.) Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
269.) Selected Hotels of Europe
270.) Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
271.) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
272.) A Separate Peace by John Knowles
273.) Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
274.) Sexus by Henry Miller
275.) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
276.) Shane by Jack Shaefer
277.) The Shining by Stephen King
278.) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
279.) S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
280.) Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
281.) Small Island by Andrea Levy
282.) Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
283.) Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
284.) Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
285.) The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
286.) Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
287.) The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
288.) Songbook by Nick Hornby
289.) The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
290.) Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
291.) Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
292.) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
293.) Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
294.) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
295.) The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
296.) A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
297.) Stuart Little by E. B. White
298.) Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
299.) Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
300.) Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
301.) Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
302.) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
303.) Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
304.) Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
305.) Time and Again by Jack Finney
306.) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
307.) To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
308.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
309.) The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
310.) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
311.) The Trial by Franz Kafka
312.) The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
313.) Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
314.) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
315.) Ulysses by James Joyce
316.) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
317.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
318.) Unless by Carol Shields
319.) Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
320.) The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
321.) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
322.) Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
323.) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
324.) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
325.) Walden by Henry David Thoreau
326.) Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
327.) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
328.) We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
329.) What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
330.) What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
331.) When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
332.) Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
333.) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
334.) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
335.) The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
336.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
337.) The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
338.) The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

 


Patrick Lenton is a playwright, fiction writer and blogger, based in Sydney. He is into you. He blogs over at The Spontaneity Review, and edits a comedy writing anthology, The Sturgeon General. Patrick’s story ‘Swimming, & Other Unnatural Things’ features in our latest print/audio edition, Going Down Swinging No. 35.