It's been a hot minute since we last saw Jess Mariano on "Gilmore Girls," when he'd opened his own publishing house in Philly (cool!) and found out Rory was using him to make Logan jealous (not so cool). And as the show's revival fast approaches, one of the most burning Jess questions on our minds is — what's he been reading?
A lot of excellent literature has been published since '06, and we're sure Stars Hollow's most voracious reader (well, second to Rory) has devoured a lot of them. So which titles are most likely to earn a self-satisfied reference from Jess on "Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life?" Here are our 19 best guesses.
"Like You'd Understand, Anyway" by Jim Shepard
The title alone is Jess Mariano in a damn nutshell, and there's no doubt he's a big supporter of the renaissance of short stories, making this collection from Shepard a favorite. He's also more likely to be a fan than Rory, considering all excepting one of these stories bears the first-person narration of a dude, with women only appearing as side characters. Add this one to the literary fuckboy stack!
"Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay
For all his literary fuckboy-ness, Jess would totally still try to earn woke points by casually referencing a feminist text. Gay's book might be just the ticket.
"Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
Chances are Jess, embarrassed by it's colossal popularity and status as a key Book White People Like, slipped "Outliers" into another book sleeve. But he still read it.
"Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" by David Sedaris
Because even Jess needs to laugh sometimes (so long as its for an at least semi-intellectual reason, of course).
"Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart
Considering Jess is a fan of the Russian literary tradition (mostly for the sake of being able to say he is), there's no doubt he's a fan of this dystopian satire about youth-obsessed America, consumerism, and doomed love. Shteyngart is right up Mariano's wry, bitter alley.
"This Is How You Lose Her" by Junot Díaz
Because of COURSE Jess loves Díaz (although it's still a wonder neither of his earlier works, "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and "Drown," were referenced on "Gilmore Girls" — yet). Honing in on Yunior, the narrator of "Oscar Wao" who is himself an unapologetic fuckboy, you know the pages of Jess's copy are likely dogeared.
"The Pale King" by David Foster Wallace
Jess was probably first in line at Barnes & Noble in 2011 when Wallace's posthumous, unfinished "Pale King" went on sale. When the narrator, who coincidentally is also named David Wallace, muses that he "dreamed of becoming an ‘artist,’ i.e., somebody whose adult job was original and creative instead of tedious and dronelike," you know that spoke straight to Jess' nonconformist soul.
"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen
We know the Beatnik-obsessed Jess has a soft spot for explorations of the American dream, and that same idea applies to Franzen's epic ode to suburbia, the middle class, and modern marriage. Plus, Jess definitely has a fanboy crush on Franzen, let's be honest. Perhaps he even took a cue from his deity and emailed Rory upon finishing it?
"A Visit From the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan
Although often quite sad, "Goon Squad" is also full of dark humor which no doubt puts a merry twinkle in Mariano's eye. Plus, he digs the multi-generational references to the American music scene, though he found the ending discordant with Egan's overall tone. *Sigh.*
"A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties" by Suze Rotolo
Written by Bob Dylan's righthand woman during his Greenwich Village residency in the early '60s, this book isn't just about Dylan, but about the era's folk music explosion at large. Considering how much Jess and Rory loved "Please Kill Me," we're guessing he's a fan of this music history exploration, too.
"Wind/Pinball: Two Novels" by Haruki Murakami
Technically these two novels, Murakami's earliest, were both published in 1973. But unless Jess was secretly taking Japanese classes on the sly in Stars Hollow, we're guessing he didn't actually read them until 2015, when the books were first published in English. Though I personally second the New York Times' view that no one actually gets Murakami, Jess wouldn't be caught dead without at least one of the author's books ostentatiously displayed on his shelf.
"Damned" by Chuck Palahniuk
The book's protagonist, a snarky teenaged girl who's exploring Hell, begins every chapter with, "Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison." She also delivers this two-liner that definitely carries the Mariano seal of approval: "If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead."
"Armageddon in Retrospect" by Vonnegut
Obviously Jess was counting down the days until this collection of short stories and essays — the first posthumous work to come from his recently fallen idol, Vonnegut — went on sale in '08. Obviously.
"The Counselor: A Screenplay" by Cormac McCarthy
I know, I know. As the title above clearly indicates, this is a screenplay, not a book. But hey, it's not Jess's fault the famously reclusive author hasn't popped out another ~real~ novel since "The Road" in 2006, which Jess presumably read immediately. Screenplays will have to fill his McCarthy cravings for now, it seems.
"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
Jess and Rory have a similar view of this World War II-set Pulitzer Prize winner, which is that it's overly sentimental. Actually, come to think of it, they're both so pedantic that maybe they should end up together? And that's coming from a Team Logan fan, sheesh.
"Just Kids" by Patti Smith
Jess, like every fifth millennial you see taking the subway to Williamsburg, devoured this book, and he's a fan of "M Train," too.
"Letters to Vera" by Vladimir Nabokov
I'd venture to guess Jess belongs to that camp of lit lovers who glorify Nabokov's classic tale of pedophilia ("The writing is just so beautiful!"). So, naturally he snapped up a copy of this compilation of the author's letters and personal notes.
More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The Uncollected Columns" by Charles Bukowski
Franzen, Vonnegut, or Bukowski. It's difficult to choose who Jess's true literary idol would be, but Bukowski's definitely up there. A posthumous sequel to his similarly named 1969 work, this collection of Bukowski's underground newspaper clippings was reviewed by one young lad on Good Reads as "a good book to read at night while drinking pints at pubs in Seattle." Can you picture a more Jess Mariano setting?
"The Subsect" by Jess Mariano
Because Jess WOULD reference Jess.
We'll have to wait until November 25 to find out what titles he's added to his own bibliography since Season 6!