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.

44.) Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker

I’d been waiting for Dorothy Parker to come up in this challenge since the very beginning. However, all I knew about her was that she was famously witty, generally disregarded by highbrow literary institutions, and that the production team behind Gilmore Girls was named after her. All those things piqued my interest, but also made me think there were some secrets to learn here; some hard-core Gilmore Girls inspiration to discover. And I was not wrong.

Dorothy Parker’s short stories are absolutely brilliant. Her oft-quoted wit is there, but if you think it in any way invalidates the amazing craft of her writing, you’re a dang fool. I was reminded of Raymond Carver in some of the stories – in the way she sets up a kind of nameless dread in her suburban settings – yet the target is generally more satirical. She makes fun of a lot of people, and is incredibly irreverent but piercing in the comments she makes about relationships and families and the role of women in society. No wonder she was never taken seriously by the asshole boys’ club – she writes about women. I feel sometimes for women.

There were two stories that gave me brilliant Gilmore Girls epiphanies. In ‘Little Curtis’, a rich society family, the Albert Matsons, adopt an orphan in order to better fit in. There is a recurring joke where the ‘mother’ claims she got Curtis from “the very best place”, intimating that even orphanages have pedigree. It’s exactly the kind of thing you can imagine Emily Gilmore saying. Then the mother’s husband comes home, and it’s impossible not to imagine Richard.

Then there’s another story called ‘The Sexes’, in which a couple have an argument after a party – however the woman refuses to actually admit that she’s upset, and all the dialogue skirts around the issue, yet somehow illuminates the problem far better than if she’d admitted she’s mad about an issue. This is classic Gilmore Girls. Dialogue is such a huge part of the show, and hurt feelings and sensitivity form the majority of conflicts. Just think about how Lorelai refuses to tell Luke she’s hurt that he kept April out of her life, until it becomes a relationship-ending issue. Communication, people!

The actual episode in which Rory is reading this book is the one where Dean and her fall asleep at Miss Patty’s after the school dance, and everyone freaks out, despite it being completely virginal and innocent. I think it’s one of the first moments where you realise that Rory is also tarred by Lorelai’s teen pregnancy; that all her actions will be viewed through that lens, and she’ll be judged as a kind of newer, better version of her mother: a Lorelai 2.0.

Dorothy Parker’s actual life could be more closely aligned with Lorelai’s – one of Parker’s famous quotes about relationships is “I love them until they love me”, which is so Lorelai it hurts.

Curious to see the full reading list? You can view it here.

Patrick Lenton is a blogger at The Spontaneity Review and the author of A Man Made Entirely of Bats. He is the recipient of the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and shortlisted for the Scribe Nonfiction Prize. He’s a digital marketer at Momentum books. | @PatrickLenton