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Dating back to ancient times, astrology has fascinated countless generations of seers, thinkers, and creatives. For some, the twelve signs of the zodiac offer insight on the human psyche while others view it as a celestial homage to age old gods, goddesses, and creatures whose names are immortalized by constellations. Essentially, the zodiac transforms the sky into a page upon which each luminous star tells a story. Whether you’ve had a birth chart done to determine your rising sun and moon, half-heartedly check your weekly horoscope, or consider yourself a skeptic, astrology, like fables or tarot, can help you make sense of the world around you. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here’s twelve cosmically inspired recommendations that will undoubtedly leave you feeling inspired.
Aries: March 21 – April 19
In Naomi Alderman’s chillingly dystopian novel, young women develop the ability to wield bolts of electricity through their fingertips. In a world not much different than ours, her heroines use this extraordinary gift to cultivate destinies of their own. With each jolt and shock, they dismantle the limitations of their society’s traditions and expectations. Yet as they embrace the kinetic energy that flows through their veins, they’re forced to reckon with the double edged nature of their new strength. Much like Aries’ ruling planet Mars, The Power forces its reader to reflect on the irreversible ways that privilege and passion can change a person (for better or worse).
Taurus: April 20 – May 20
Taurus, also known as the sign of the bull, is an Earth sign and is associated with strength, perseverance, and sensuality. It’s also part of the second house of the zodiac, which influences how dedicated one is to their personal values and their sense of self. Throughout Daisy Johnson’s short story collection Fen, Taurus’ essence – its connectedness to the terrestrial and the corporal – is embodied via the page. Like its namesake, Johnson’s stories are rooted in the process of coming undone, of transition. A world where girls become eels and boys come back from the dead as foxes, Johnson’s imaginative metaphors for coming of age commemorate the unhinged beauty that can be found in through transformation. Fen challenges readers to be patient with their journey, to trust that change is within reach.
Half Life: A Novel
Gemini: May 21 – June 20
In Shelley Jackson’s Half Life, Nora yearns to be separated from her conjoined twin Blanche. As the dominant of the two, Nora’s desire for autonomy leads her to the Unity Foundation, an organization that guarantees to rid her of her twin. Yet as she embarks on her journey towards obtaining a singular life, Nora is confronted with how Blanche – who she considers to be a burden – is an essential part of her identity not only as a sister, but as an individual. A humorously dark and at times macabre manifestation of the twin star’s duality, Half Life is a cautionary tale urging Geminis not to reject their duplicity but to reveal in it instead.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Cancer: June 21 – June 22
Ruled by the Moon, Cancer is the fourth sign in the zodiac. Associated with water and symbolically represented as the Crab, those who are born under this sign tend to be contemplative, compassionate, and occasionally reclusive. Each of these characteristics can also be used to describe Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. The detail oriented homebody at the center of Gail Honeyman’s novel seems to mirror the nature of the Crab seamlessly. Prone to spending her weekends in solitude, Eleanor is challenged to reconfigure her habitual routine when she kindles a friendship with Raymond, her disheveled yet kind coworker. By stepping outside of her comfort zone and practicing empathy, Eleanor gradually discovers the power of human connectedness. Through friendship she learns how to heal the fractures in the hearts of others as well as her own. By leaning into her intuition and pushing herself past her fears, she beings to fully live. Like Eleanor, you too, dear Cancer, must let go and let yourself flourish.
Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover: A Novel
Leo: July 23 – August 22
Fueled by the element of fire, Leos are full of heart. They are courageous and prone to brutal honesty and loyalty. As the fifth sign of the zodiac, Leos are ruled by the sun and like the sun, they are steadfast, but also at times stubborn. Like the astrological lion, Mila Jaroniec’s spirited protagonist navigates through the pages of Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover with electrifying determination, relatable appetite, and compassion. It is a novel brave enough to explore the beauty that can be found in brokenness as well as healing. Like the mighty Leo, Jaroniec’s debut is tangibly earnest. Each page unabashedly celebrates the way embracing the unexpected can help you discover your path.
Little Fires Everywhere
Virgo: August 23 – September 22
Celeste Ng’s latest novel Little Fires Everywhere examines the malleability of mother-daughter relationships and how community can influence who we are. When controversy strikes, Mia and her teen daughter Pearl find their lives irrevocably altered as Mia’s previously veiled past is uncovered. The chaos at the center of Ng’s narrative brings to mind the discord that Virgo’s ruling planet makes when it’s in retrograde. Despite the gradual tension that grows between Mia and Pearl, Ng’s characters, like Virgo, remain firm believers in the best of humanity, even when goodness is obscured by darkness. Ng’s masterful prose and dynamic characterization encourage Virgos not to linger on the past but to actively invest in the present and to march boldly into the future.
Libra: September 23 – October 22
The unnamed narrator of Swing Time is one of the best literary embodiments of the seventh sign. Prone to indecisiveness, a distaste for conflict, and a deep-seated dedication to holding a grudge, Zadie Smith’s protagonist is internally sure of herself, even though it might not seem that way to others. As Smith’s narrator mulls over her friendship with Tracey, her relationship with her mother, and the ever changing dynamics between herself and the larger-than-life Aimee, readers learn the benefit of weighing one’s judgements before reacting. Although her inner world might oscillate between melodrama and romanticism, her actions are calculated. Like the scales of justice, her decisions – monumental and slight alike – are balanced. Even on her worst days, Smith’s narrator is aware of every facet of a situation. Although cautious, she ultimately seeks harmony.
Scorpio: October 23 – November 21
Regina McBride’s soul-stirring memoir Ghost Songs aims to uncover the truth behind what caused her parents to commit an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the Irish Catholic church: suicide. Visited by phantasmic manifestations of her parents, McBride is forced to reckon with her grief and inner demons simultaneously. Unflinchingly, she sifts through her memories, in search of the proverbial key to what torments her. Reminiscent of Scorpio, which is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation and power, McBride’s journey forces her to confront her trauma in order to heal. Like Scorpio, she discovers the limitlessness of her strength and potential after she comes to terms with what haunts her.
An Unkindness of Ghosts
Sagittarius: November 22 – December 21
The sign of the Archer is known for being adventurous, wise, and having a courageous heart. Propelled towards their destiny by intuition and hope, those born beneath the ninth sign of the zodiac are trailblazers. Like Aster, the intergalactic heroine at the center of Rivers Solomon’s compelling debut, Sagittarius desires and seeks freedom. Ruled by Jupiter, the planet of expansion, they despise prejudice and injustice. The moral motivations of this sign are vividly brought to life via An Unkindness of Ghosts. As if channeling the prophetic spirit of Octavia Butler, Solomon’s novel, like Sagittarius, urges readers to dismantle the institutions that bind us, to take root among the stars.
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Capricorn: December 22 – January 19
Devoted, fearless, and ruled by Saturn, Capricorns are associated with the element of Earth. Often haunted by their familial and personal pasts, the tenth sign of the zodiac, although at times reserved, is brave when it matters most. Apprehensive when confronted with their inner demons, Capricorns, like Sing, Unburied, Sing‘s JoJo, rarely look away from what haunts them. Similarly, they’re able to find enlightenment by reckoning with and honoring their individual and ancestral past. Prefacing her novel with an epigraph by the iconic Eudora Welty, Jesmyn Ward reminds Capricorns to be steadfast, to embrace the past and the present without fear, that “the memory is a living thing – it too is in transit.”
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
Lesley Nneka Arimah
Aquarius: January 20 – February 18
At the core of Lesley Nneka Arimah’s award-winning short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, protagonists seek to cultivate individual freedom, to nurture their true self and the true selves of others. Each astonishing story portrays its narrators as evolving. The women in Arimah’s fictive world are perpetually becoming. Even as men fall from the sky, as babies made of hair cry out for their mothers, her characters, like the Water Bearer, look forward. Like their creator, (the masterful Arimah), and the eleventh sign, they’re visionaries.
Pisces: February 19 – March 20
The stanzas of Nicole Sealey’s collection Ordinary Beastsradiate with the perceptive soulfulness of the twelfth sign. Ruled by Neptune, Pisces revels in the imagination and the restorative power of contemplation. Sealey’s poetic exploration of the interior becomes a mirror, allowing her audience to revel in the meaning of every word. A celebration of vulnerability as well as strength, Ordinary Beasts is a fluid meditation on how one navigates through the world with intention, rather than merely floating adrift. Through the visceral imagery of poems like “in igboland” and the unabashed glory of “legendary,” Sealey shakes us from our slumber.