45 GREAT BOOK ADAPTATIONS YOU CAN WATCH ON NETFLIX RIGHT NOW

Netflix and chill with these certified fresh (according to Rotten Tomatoes) book-to-film adaptations.

45 Great Book Adaptations You Can Watch on Netflix Right Now

MOVIES

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY (2018)

Five years after the end of World War II, a young London-based writer travels to the Island of Guernsey to interview residents for a book she plans to write about their experiences during the war. Once there, she learns about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the harrowing trials its members went through during the war.

Based On: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Starring: Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay, Michael Huisman, Glen Powell, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton


SECRETARIAT (2010)

Penny Chenery Tweedy and her associates guide her long-shot stallion to set the still-unbeaten world record for winning the Triple Crown in 1973.

Based On: Secretariat by William Nack

Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, Margo Martindale, Nelson Ellis


ROOM (2015)

A woman who has been held captive in a tiny garden shed for seven years raises her five-year-old son, Jack, who was born in captivity.

Based On: Room by Emma Donoghue

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Temblay


THE READER (2008)

In 1958 Germany, a teenage boy named Michael Berg has an affair with an older woman named Hanna Schmitz, who then mysteriously disappears. Decades later, Michael, now a lawyer, encounters Hanna in court. She is on trial for war crimes committed when she was a guard at a Nazi concentration camp.

Based On: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, translated by Carol Brown Janeway

Starring: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross


REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (2008)

April and Frank Wheeler’s troubled marriage crumbles under the social constraints of their mid-1950s suburban existence.

Based On: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour


INTO THE WILD (2007)

After graduating from Emory University in the early 1990s, ace student and athlete Christopher McCandless gives everything he owns to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness.

Based On: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Father, widower, and small-town lawyer Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1932 Alabama. Meanwhile, his two children, Jem and Scout, become intrigued by their mysterious shut-in neighbor, Boo Radley.

Based On: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Ruth White, Paul Fix, Brock Peters, Frank Overton, Robert Duvall


SUITE FRANÇAISE (2014)

During the Nazi occupation of France, romance blossoms between a Lucile Angellier, a French woman, and Bruno von Falk, the German officer billeting in her home.

Based On: Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith

Starring: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Margot Robbie, Ruth Wilson


THE IMITATION GAME (2014)

British mathematical genius Alan Turing and a team of gifted mathematicians try to crack the German Enigma code to turn the tide of World War II. But when Alan is outed as a gay man, he is faced with imprisonment or chemical castration.

Based On: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear


THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING (2016)

A retired writer named Ben takes a six-week course to become a caregiver, then takes a job caring for Trevor, an eighteen-year-old with muscular dystrophy. Ben takes Trevor on a road trip to see the world’s deepest pit. Along the way, Trevor meets Dot, a kind girl he develops a crush on.

Based On: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

Starring: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Alex Huff, Donna Biscoe, Julia Denton, Jennifer Ehle


QUEEN OF KATWE (2016)

Phiona Mutesi, a ten-year-old Ugandan girl growing up in the slums of Katwe, learns to play chess and soon becomes a top player, competing in international competitions.

Based On: The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers

Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o


ATONEMENT (2007)

Thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the trajectory of multiple lives when she falsely accuses her sister’s lover of raping a fifteen-year-old girl.

Based On: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juno Temple


THE DUCHESS (2008)

Trapped in a loveless marriage to a cold, cruel man, Georgiana throws herself into hosting extravagant parties and has a torrid affair with Parliament member Charles Grey.

Based On: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper


MUDBOUND (2017)

Two families—one white, one black—battle racism and struggle to adjust to farm life in rural Mississippi after World War II.

Based On: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Garret Hedlund, Mary J. Blige


RUST AND BONE (2012)

An amateur fighter and former whale trainer who lost both her legs in an on-the-job accident form a deep bond and begin to fall in love.

Based On: Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts


OUR SOULS AT NIGHT (2017)

Longtime neighbors Addie Moore and Louis Waters have hardly spoken to each other the whole time they’ve lived side-by-side. But that changes when Addie reaches out and tries to make a connection, sparking a beautiful late-life romance.

Based On: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Starring: Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Matthias Schoenaerts


CAROL (2015)

A shopgirl and older woman whose marriage is falling apart have a forbidden affair that leaves both of them changed forever.

Based On: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler


LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992)

When tradition thwarts her plans to marry the man she loves, a young woman discovers that she has hidden culinary talents.

Based On: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Starring: Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, Regina Torné, Mario Iván Martínez


COLD MOUNTAIN (2003)

During the final days of the Civil War, Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, embarks on a dangerous journey back to Cold Mountain, North Carolina to reunite with his love, Ada. Meanwhile, Ada struggles to survive after her father dies, leaving her destitute.

Based On: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Charlie Hunnam, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland


OUT OF SIGHT (1998)

Career bank robber Jack Foley and U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco share a steamy moment of mutual attraction while stowed away in a trunk during Foley’s escape from a Florida prison. After the getaway, Sisco chases Foley and his pals to Detroit where they plan to steal a cache of uncut diamonds.

Based On: Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard

Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Ving Rhames


AN EDUCATION (2009)

An uncommonly bright sixteen-year-old girl is seduced by a charming con man and receives an education in life, love, and sex.

Based On: An Education by Lynn Barber

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson


GERALD’S GAME (2017)

Jessie Burlingame faces her demons and fights to survive when her husband dies suddenly during a sex game gone wrong, leaving her securely handcuffed to the bed in their remote lake house.

Based On: Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken


TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011)

A high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse ensues when espionage master George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet mole operating within MI6.

Based On: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds


DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)

English teacher John Keating flouts the conventions of the conservative upper-crust Vermont boarding school where he teaches to inspire his students to read poetry with fresh eyes and hearts.

Based On: Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum

Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen


RED DRAGON (2002)

Will Graham, a retired FBI agent with a gift for understanding disturbed minds, tracks down a brutal serial killer known as “The Tooth Fairy” with the help of imprisoned forensic psychiatrist—and world’s greatest human flesh cook—Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Based On: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman


SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993)

Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German businessman and card-carrying member of the Nazi Party, risks everything to save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

Based On: Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Embeth Davidtz


JURASSIC PARK (1993)

Billionaire philanthropist John Hammond and a team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park full of cloned dinosaurs. When a power failure knocks out the park’s security system, a small group of visitors there to preview the exhibits before opening day are faced with a hoard of toothy reptiles and one very pissed-off t-rex.

Based On: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson


THE GODFATHER (1972)

The aging Don of a New York crime family transfers power to his reluctant son with disastrous results.

Based On: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton


THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)

A hodgepodge fellowship comprised of four hobbits, two humans, a dwarf, an elf, and a wizard embark on an epic quest to destroy the Ring of Power in the fires of Mount Doom in order to stop the Dark Lord Sauron from taking over Middle-earth with his force of evil orcs.

Based On: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Sala Baker


THE LITTLE PRINCE (2015)

A little girl whose mother has a strict plan for her life that includes no time for leisure befriends her elderly retired aviator neighbor who tells her the story of a little prince he once met from a faraway planet.

Based On: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017)

A shallow and self-centered prince is cursed by a witch to transform into a beast for the rest of his life unless he can make a woman love him before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose. Belle, a bookish girl ahead of her time, saves her father from the clutches of the beast by offering to remain a prisoner in his stead.

Based On: The Story of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Hattie Morahan


PADDINGTON (2014)

A young anthropomorphic bear with an unusual affinity for marmalade migrates from the wild Peruvian jungle to modern-day London. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the Brown family, who kindly offer to let him stay with them.

Based On: Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by R. W. Alley

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman


TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE (2018)

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey keeps love letters she’s written to all the boys she’s ever loved in a hatbox gifted to her by her late mother. One day, Lara finds her hatbox missing and it quickly becomes apparent that someone has mailed the letters to their not-so-intended recipients.

Based On: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Starring: Lana Condor, Janel Parrish, Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard, John Corbett


SPOTLIGHT (2015)

A group of investigative reporters for The Boston Globe uncover a massive decades-long scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.

Based On: Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church by The Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci


TV SHOWS & MINISERIES

FATHER BROWN (2013- )

A deceptively clever village priest solves crimes that baffle the local police in rural mid-century Britain. (I’m binge-watching this series right now and it’s absolutely fabulous.)

Based On: The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton

Starring: Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Nancy Carroll, Alex Price


ALIAS GRACE (2017)

Grace Marks is a convicted murderess, having participated in the gruesome slaying of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Fifteen years into serving a life sentence in Kingston Penitentiary, an alienist named Simon Jordan takes an interest in Grace’s case and begins a series of interviews intended to suss out the motivation behind her crime. But Dr. Jordan’s interest soon grows beyond the detached professional persona he tries so desperately to maintain and it becomes clear that the facts of the case may not align with what truly happened.

Based On: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Starring: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Kerr Logan, Anna Paquin, Paul Gross


ANNE WITH AN “E” (2017- )

Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan girl, is adopted by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert and goes to live with them on picturesque Prince Edward Island. There she meets an eclectic cast of characters, including the rambunctious Gilbert Blythe, busybody neighbor Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and kindred spirit Diana Barry. Facing prejudice because of her parentless status, Anne struggles to be accepted and chases her dreams.

Based On: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Starring: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R. H. Thomson, Dalila Bela, Lucas Jade Zumann


MINDHUNTER (2017- )

In 1977, two FBI agents and a psychologist pioneer the science of criminal psychology and found the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit.

Based On: Mindhunter by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv


A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2017- )

Three orphaned siblings use their considerable talents to outsmart the evil Count Olaf, who wants to steal the fortune their parents left behind.

Based On: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman


ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (2013- )

Middle-class WASP Piper Kerman is sentenced to eighteen months in Litchfield Penitentiary after being convicted of smuggling drugs for her ex-girlfriend, Alex Vause. There she copes with the daily hardships and injustices of prison life and meets an eclectic cast of fellow inmates. Things take an interesting turn when Alex is also sent to Litchfield.

Based On: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Starring: Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Jackie Cruz, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Jessica Pimentel, Laverne Cox


LONGMIRE (2012-2017)

Sheriff Walt Longmire, Deputy Vic Moretti, and the rest of the team at the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department fight crime and solve mysteries across the wild Wyoming landscape.

Based On: The Longmire Mystery Series by Craig Johnson

Starring: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman, Adam Barley, Louanne Stephens, Bailey Chase, A Martinez, Zahn McClarnon


BATES MOTEL (2013-2017)

Norma Bates and her teenage son, Norman, buy a motel after Norman’s father dies. Shortly thereafter, the former owner of the motel breaks in and sexually assaults Norma. Norman knocks him unconscious and Norma stabs him to death. From this point, the series traces Norman’s complicated relationship with his mother and the unraveling of his fragile psyche.

Based On: Psycho by Robert Bloch

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell


CALL THE MIDWIFE (2012- )

A group of midwives serves the poor and outcast in the poverty-stricken Poplar district of London’s East End in the 1950s.

Based On: The Complete Call the Midwife Stories by Jennifer Worth

Starring: Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Venessa Redgrave, Stephen McGann, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Cliff Parisi


NORTH & SOUTH (2004)

A young middle-class southerner named Margaret Hale comes face-to-face with the brutality of poverty and the industrial revolution when her family moves to the Northern cotton mill town of Milton in the mid-18th century. There she meets John Thornton, a brusque mill owner whose manners and seeming indifference to his worker’s suffering offends her finer sensibilities.

Based On: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Starring: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack, Brendan Coyle

By , September 
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2018 National Book Award Long List

The 2018 National Book Award long lists have been announced! Find out if your favorites in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature and translated literature made the cut.

FICTION

FloridaJamel Brinkley, A Lucky Man

Jennifer Clement, Gun Love

Lauren Groff, Florida

Daniel Gumbiner, The Boatbuilder

Brandon Hobson, Where the Dead Sit Talking

Tayari Jones, An American Marriage

Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers

Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

Tommy Orange, There There

Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People

NONFICTION

One PersonCarol Anderson, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy

Colin G. Calloway, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation

Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple, Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War

Victoria Johnson, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic

David Quammen, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Rebecca Solnit, Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)

Jeffrey C. Stewart, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights

POETRY

WobbleRae Armantrout, Wobble

Jos Charles, feeld

Forrest Gander, Be With

Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

J. Michael Martinez, Museum of the Americas

Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of

Justin Phillip Reed, Indecency

Raquel Salas Rivera, lo terciario / the tertiary

Natasha Trethewey, Monument: Poems New and Selected

Jenny Xie, Eye Level

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

BrangwainElizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

Bryan Bliss, We’ll Fly Away

Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo

Tahereh Mafi, A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Joy McCullough, Blood Water Paint

Elizabeth Partridge, Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam

Vesper Stamper, What the Night Sings

TRANSLATED LITERATURE

FlightsNégar Djavadi, Disoriental; translated by Tina Kover

Roque Larraquy, Comemadre; translated by Heather Cleary

Dunya Mikhail, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq; translated by Max Weiss and Dunya Mikhail

Perumal Murugan, One Part Woman; translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

Hanne Ørstavik, Love; translated by Martin Aitken

Gunnhild Øyehaug, Wait, Blink: A Perfect Picture of Inner Life; translated by Kari Dickson

Domenico Starnone, Trick; translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

Yoko Tawada, The Emissary; translated by Margaret Mitsutani

Olga Tokarczuk, Flights; translated by Jennifer Croft

Tatyana Tolstaya, Aetherial Worlds; translated by Anya Migdal

By Cat, Deputy Editor, September 17, 2018, first appearing on BookPage.com – The Book Case Blog

10 Fictional Characters That Are Definitely Having a Worse Day Than You

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale (2017)/Photo © 2016 Hulu

We all have bad days. That’s an unfortunate, if inescapable, fact of life. Life is stressful, that’s part of the deal and we all need ways to let off a little steam to perhaps gain a modicum of perspective. Fortunately, the wondrous concept of schadenfreude exists, and while it may seem a tad callous to derive enjoyment from the misfortune of others, literature can give you all the vicarious joy and none of the existential guilt.

So, just remember: as bad as your day may seem, someone in the wide literary world is having a markedly worse one than you.

The cover of the book The Drawing of the ThreeThe Drawing of the Three
Stephen King
Roland Deschain

Roland Deschain’s arch-nemesis has just escaped his grasp. He just dropped a kid to his apparent death. Literally everyone he knows is dead. And now he wakes on some random beach and large lobster-like creatures have gnawed off a couple of his fingers on his shooting hand and his big toe. That’s a bad day, folks.

 

 

The cover of the book A Storm of SwordsA Storm of Swords
George R. R. Martin
The Stark Family

In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire just having the surname “Stark” is an indication that you’re in for a string of really, really terrible days. The Red Wedding is pretty hard to top, though. Robb Stark thought he was bringing allies to his side, but instead sees his men massacred and is murdered himself. Catelyn, after watching her son die, has her throat slit. Arya Stark loses yet another chance at reuniting with her family. At least she got to add more names to her list?

 

 

The cover of the book At the Mountains of MadnessAt the Mountains of Madness
H. P. Lovecraft
Danforth

Imagine you’re a grad student with an interest in the occult, what better place to be than good old Miskatonic University? What better experience than accompanying a geology professor to the Antarctica? There is the small issue of that expedition finding an ancient, evil civilization, a formless monstrosity and a terror so great the mere sight of breaks your sanity. Hopefully, Danforth got a ton of extra credit.

 

 

The cover of the book The MetamorphosisThe Metamorphosis
Franz Kafka
Gregor Samsa

Gregor Samsa, a salesman suffering an existential crisis, turns into a giant insect. A giant insect. That is a worse day than yours.

 

 

The cover of the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
Oscar de Leon

There are bad days and then there is The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Oscar de Leon suffers through two suicide attempts, a beating-induced coma, the unrequited love of a Dominican prostitute, and his eventual death at the hands of corrupt Dominican cops. Oh, and his family is probably cursed.

 

 

The cover of the book The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride
William Goldman
Westley 

You may be having a bad day, but have you ever lost the love of your life to a pompous prince and been rendered mostly dead by a life-sucking torture device?

 

 

The cover of the book 19841984
George Orwell
Winston Smith

I’m certain that most days in a dystopian surveillance state would be fairly bad, but being betrayed by the kindly old guy you and your lady love are renting from and turned over to the thought police? That just really sucks. Throw in the torture, the rats, and the existential collapse and you’re looking down the barrel of Winston Smith’s truly bad day.

 

 

The cover of the book Blood MeridianBlood Meridian
Cormac McCarthy
The Kid

No one really ever has a particularly good day in a Cormac McCarthy novel. There really all just varying degrees of bleak. Imagine being the Kid from Blood Meridian, though. After years of brutality, you think you’re out from under the sway of the Judge. Then you head to the outhouse after an evening with a prostitute and open the to door to be greeted by the massive, naked figure of the Judge who “gather [you] in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh.” There’s no way that ends well.

 

 

The cover of the book American GodsAmerican Gods
Neil Gaiman
Shadow Moon

Being released from prison early should be a good day, right? Shadow Moon likely thought so. That is until he found he was being released to attend his wife’s funeral – his wife who was having an affair with his best friend.

 

 

The cover of the book The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood
Offred

Just pick a day. Literally any day of Offred’s life in Gilead is probably worse than yours.

 

 

5 READS FOR HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Penned in Don Quixote is the proverb “El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho,” which translates to “He who reads a lot and walks a lot, knows a lot and sees a lot.” How beautiful and poetic is that? I would have to agree with the proverb, and I would also say that Don Quixote is a masterpiece of literature. Often; however, great works by Hispanic authors are overlooked.

I have seen countless book lists that almost always list great literature as written only by authors who are white, as if authors of color have never existed. Rarely do I ever see book lists of incredible reads by Hispanic authors. Historically, Hispanics have been marginalized, and quite frankly I am exhausted from trying to convince others that Hispanic authors have put together some of the greatest books. Call it bias if you will, but I call it passion. I have compiled a small list of great books that I recommend you read. Why not start during Hispanic Heritage Month? In no particular order, here they are:

With His Pistol in His Hand Book CoverWITH HIS PISTOL IN HIS HAND: A BORDER BALLAD AND ITS HERO

BY AMERICO PAREDES

If you have no idea who Americo Paredes is, then I suggest you learn right away. Paredes is recognized as one of the seminal Mexican American scholars of the twentieth century. He spent most of his academic career at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1967 he helped found the Center for Intercultural Studies of Folklore and Ethnomusicology there. During the 1960s he also fought determinedly for creation of a Mexican American studies program in spite of discouraging anti-Mexican attitudes within the university. With His Pistol in His Hand is the story of Gregorio Cortez, the Tejano hero of a border corrido (ballad). Cortez was virtually unknown in Texas until, in 1901, he and a Texas sheriff engaged in a good old fashioned shootout after a misunderstanding. The sheriff was killed and Gregorio fled immediately, realizing that in practice there was one law for Anglo-Texans, another for Texas-Mexicans. The chase and capture of Cortez became legendary across Texas—so legendary that until this day the heroic tales of Gregorio Cortez can still be heard  in the cantinas (bars) along both sides of the Rio Grande. This is my all-time favorite book, one that deserves much praise. I highly recommend it.
Like Water for Chocolate Book CoverLIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE 

BY LAURA ESQUIVEL

The cultural significance of this book is unparalleled. What else can I really say about how amazing this books is that has not already been said? The movie was not so bad, but it really does the book no justice. Tita, the youngest daughter of the all-female De La Garza family, is confined to caring for her mother until she dies and is forbidden to marry, as per Mexican tradition. But of course Tita falls in love with a man named Pedro. Pedro is easily seduced by the amazing food Tita cooks and is infatuated with her more and more as each day passes. Out of pure desperation, Pedro instead marries Tita’s sister Rosaura because that would mean he could be so much closer to Tita. Their love for each other never dies, and only after multiple tragedies and a spell of good/bad luck are they finally reunited. This book is one-of-a-kind and one that deserves to be on every single “must read” book list. If you love magical realism, then this book is for you.

 

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky Book CoverFEATHERED SERPENT, DARK HEART OF SKY: MYTHS OF MEXICO 

BY DAVID BOWLES

You may be familiar with Greek, Norse or Egyptian mythology, but have you ever considered the mythology of Mexico? Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky traces the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god, Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. Bowles does an amazing job of retelling Mexican mythology in a way that readers will be drawn to.  Bowles states that it was not until college that he first read a single Aztec or Mayan myth. I had the same experience, even though I grew up in a border town and attended a university that was predominantly Hispanic. The importance of this book needs to be discussed. From Kirkus: “Bowles’ dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid. Students of folklore will find a rich trove to mine here.” This is a great read that everybody will enjoy. Do it now!

 

The Line Becomes a River Book CoverTHE LINE BECOMES A RIVER: DISPATCHES FROM THE BORDER 

BY FRANCISCO CANTU

The cultural significance of this book is undeniable. Given how border issues are a contemporary topic, The Line Becomes a River is relevant because it highlights not only the difficulties of policing the border, but the difficulties of witnessing immigrants traverse literal death traps  as they make their way into the United States. Francisco Cantu is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who worked the U.S.-Mexico Border in Arizona and Texas. His dispatches from the border are eye-opening and leave you feeling a multitude of ways. Being Hispanic, Cantu assumed that policing the border would be the answer to all of the border questions he was so perplexed about. The border, however, proved to be an enigma that he was not prepared for. From arresting immigrants and drug smugglers to witnessing countless dead bodies, Cantu’s experiences are mesmerizing. This is a book you will not be able to put down. From Esquire: “A must-read for anyone who thinks ‘build a wall’ is the answer to anything.” Pick this one up today and enjoy.

 

Bang Book CoverBANG: A NOVEL 

BY DANIEL PENA

Although Daniel and I had a constructive disagreement on Twitter once (good times, Daniel), this did not take away from how much I enjoyed his book. Bang is an excellent novel set in the town of Harlingen, a town that is situated only a few miles from the mighty Rio Grande in Deep South Texas. Although this book is fictional, the fate of the family in Pena’s book is a reminiscent fate of the many families who have suffered at the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels. They are forced to do dangerous, unimaginable things. Uli and his brother Cuauhtemoc are involved in a plane crash along the U.S.-Mexico Border one late night. Cuauhtemoc awakes and realizes he is bound and gagged. Is he in Mexico or the U.S.? He is unsure. Uli wakes up in a hospital and is also unsure of which country he is in. Given that Uli is an undocumented immigrant, he prays that he is in a U.S. hospital, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize he is in Mexico. Their mother Araceli hears of the crash and risks her own status by crossing into Mexico to search for her two sons and her husband who has been missing for some time. In Mexico, each is forced to navigate the complexities of their past and an unknown world of deprivation and violence. From Kirkus: “A piercing tale of lives broken by border violence.” This book is a great read that details the struggles many actual undocumented immigrants face. I highly recommend this one.
There are thousands of great books written by Hispanic men and women whose talents are often passed over. Despite overwhelming positive reviews, most people never categorize their works as great. It is important to recognize authors of all color, background, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation for their body of work and for the amazing books they publish. If this list doesn’t do it for you, then compile your own list, but give Hispanic authors a chance. You will not be disappointed.

, September 

Romance Novels You Should Read, Based on Other Books You Love

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Romance is a huge and diverse genre, encompassing historical, contemporary, paranormal, and suspenseful tales, all united by one thing: a love story with a happy ending. But knowing that ending’s coming doesn’t take away from the story. Instead, it leaves you free to enjoy its twists and turns. If you’re new to romance or looking to expand your reading in the genre, here are some suggestions, based on other books you love. (Devoted romance readers can, of course, flip that equation and find a new book to read based on your favorite romance.)

The cover of the book The Rogue Not TakenThe Rogue Not Taken
Sarah MacLean
If you loved Pride and Prejudice

You could argue that Jane Austen wrote romance, or at least its forbear, and she certainly paved the way for female authors to skewer social hypocrisy while writing sincere and complex stories about love. Among today’s romance writers, Sarah MacLean carries on that legacy with novels that will appeal to fans of Austen’s love stories and Austen’s social commentary.

In The Rogue Not Taken, Sophie Talbot is the youngest of a set of sisters thrust into society when their coal baron father buys an Earldom. Sophie is the odd duck out of her sisters, uninterested in the gossip and scheming of the aristocratic society—she’s a bit of a Darcy there—but she finds herself in the spotlight when she shoves her sister’s philandering husband into a fishpond at a ball. Rather than stay to see her name in the scandal sheets, Sophie flees for Mossband, the town where she and her sisters grew up. Now add a touch of Shakespeare as Sophie dresses as a boy to play footman for The Marquess of Eversley, named Kingscote but called King, a notorious rake who’s headed in the same direction. The disguise doesn’t last long, and the sparks that fly between Sophie and King are as much about intellect and verbal sparring as they are about physical attraction. But don’t worry, that’s there, too. And in the end, their love feels as true and well-earned—and dreamy—as any that Austen ever wrote.

The cover of the book A Hope DividedA Hope Divided
Alyssa Cole
If you loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This isn’t just about “oh if you liked one interesting take on the Civil War, you’ll like this other one,” though, yes, that’s part of it. Colson Whitehead’s novel elaborated on history with fantastical Southern cities that used imaginative what-ifs to get closer to the dark essence of history. Alyssa Cole’s novel places, in the midst of a rigorously researched historical world, an invented couple through whom Cole evokes the unimaginable reality of slavery. Both novels center on a female character whose strength is mixed with naivete and hopefulness, through whose eyes the reader takes their journey.

In Cole’s case, that woman is Marlie, a free black woman who lives with her white siblings (they share a plantation owner father, now deceased). Marlie and her white sister have made their home a stop on the Underground Railroad. But despite that bravery, Marlie has a sheltered life—she rarely leaves home, working as a botanist to create medical tinctures and herbal distillations. The one time Marlie does venture out is for visits to a local Confederate prison, where she brings books and stealthy treatments to the prisoners. There she meets Ewan, who she calls Socrates for his devotion to the writings of the Ancient Greeks. A prison escape gone wrong lands Ewan in Marlie’s care, but Marlie’s home is a far less safe place than it used to be. Cole writes this Civil War world with rich specificity, showing the human reality that was much more complicated than North versus South, or good versus evil. Yet she never shies away from the moral realities of slavery, either, offering, through Marlie and Ewan’s intimate story, a sweeping perspective on both history and our present moment.

The cover of the book Garden of LiesGarden of Lies
Amanda Quick
If you loved Possession by AS Byatt

In Possession, AS Byatt melds literary mystery, poetry, and romance, interweaving two storylines in present-day and Victorian England. Amanda Quick’s Garden of Lies doesn’t share Byatt’s jumps between timelines, but readers who love Byatt will be happy to lose themselves in Quick’s Victorian world. Ursula Kern runs a secretarial agency, and when one of her best employees is found dead, Ursula suspects foul play. She takes the employee’s place as secretary to a reclusive poetess—abruptly leaving her own post, as a stenographer for archaeologist-slash-adventurer Slater Roxton. When she confesses her plan to him, Roxton insists on helping Ursula on her quest. As the two dig deeper and deeper into secrets and the dark underbelly of Victorian society, they of course find themselves drawn together as well—bringing their own buried secrets to the surface. In Quick’s skilled hands, the romance and the mystery are in perfect balance, neither perfunctory but both rich, engaging, and surprising as the story unfolds.

The cover of the book Slave to SensationSlave to Sensation
Nalini Singh
If you loved The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char is a sui generis horror novel—in its pages, Scott Hawkins conjures a totally original world, hidden within our own, full of monsters and incomprehensible powers and, at its heart, one lonely and terrified woman learning to trust her own strength and brave vulnerability, too. If you want to lose yourself in another richly imagined paranormal world, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series is for you. And in this case, you won’t have to pine and mope after finishing one novel—you’ll have 18 more to read, and more coming down the pike.

But start with Slave to Sensation, the first book in the series, and the best introduction to Singh’s warring world. This world is ruled by the Psy, who, in attempt to eradicate violence, have eradicated—or at least banned—all emotion. But the Psy share their world with Changelings, humans who can transform into animals and, as you might expect, are the hot-blooded opposites of the icy Psy. Just as we get to know the world in The Library at Mount Char as its main character, Carolyn, coming to question everything she thinks she knows, Slave to Sensation is anchored by Sascha, a Psy at war with her own emotions and desires. When she’s brought together with Changeling Lucas Hunter, Sascha’s self-control becomes even more perilous—as does the tenuous balance between Psy and Changeling.

The cover of the book Wrong to Need YouWrong to Need You
Alisha Rai
If you loved The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

One of the great triumphs of Angela Flournoy’s award-winning novel, The Turner House, is Flournoy’s effortless evocation of a big family. The thirteen Turner siblings make for a rowdy chorus, but Flournoy deftly brings out the voices of a few soloists. Romance novels, by definition, focus on a central couple, but no relationship exists in a vacuum.

In her Forbidden Hearts trilogy, Alisha Rai situates her main characters within a complex web of familial and cultural tensions. In Wrong to Need You, the second book in the series, widow Sadia Ahmed is juggling running a small business, working as a bartender on the side, and raising her young son. When her husband’s brother, Jackson—Sadia’s former best friend—comes back to town after having been AWOL on Sadia for years, she has to grapple with old hurt and a confusing new attraction. Add Sadia and Jackson’s own knotty family issues, plus Rai’s deft treatment of her characters’ emotional lives and mental health, and you have a romance that fans of The Turner House will love.

So You Want to Read Time Travel Fiction: Here’s Where to Start

Time is a difficult thing to get a handle on, especially for humans, who are alone in our understanding of just how little of it we’re allotted. Our own lifespans are so short. There’s just so much to see and do, and we only get one go-round. It hardly seems fair. But what if you could make it stop for a moment and become time’s master?

Time travel is an all but impossible dream, but one that people have probably entertained throughout the history of our species — at the very least through recorded history. World literature offers us many examples of time travel as a plot device.

The Mahabharata, an epic poem that dates back to 400 BC, features the story of a character who returns to Earth after visiting the gods, only to discover that many years have passed in his absence. Similarly, in the seventh century Japanese fairy tale of Urashima Taro, a fisherman stays in a fabulous undersea kingdom for three days, and learns upon his return to his village that 300 years have passed by.

With the advent of the modern era, the ghosts and otherworldly forces of early time travel fiction have been mostly phased out, replaced in turn by the new gods of science and technology. H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine not only defined this new kind of story, it also helped to create an entirely new genre: science-fiction.

No matter the means, the wish to travel in time has remained ever popular, even if we’re no closer to making it a reality. Barring the sudden appearance of a souped-up DeLorean on your curb, your best bet of making a trip through time is through fiction. If you are ready to start your own journey into time travel literature, then we recommend following books.

The cover of the book The Time MachineThe Time Machine
H.G. WELLS
Any respectable list of time travel novels has to start with H. G. Wells’ groundbreaking novel The Time Machine. Casting aside the magic and mysticism of an earlier era, Wells sends his hero hurtling back and forth across Earth’s timeline by way of high technology. Wells’ adventure is no less fantastic than those that came before (the goblin-like Morlocks and placid Eloi are matches for any mythic demon or angel), or moralistic (the aforementioned creatures are part of a socialist allegory), but it is far ahead of them in putting its scientist protagonist into the literal and figurative drivers seat.

 

The cover of the book SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVESLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE
KURT VONNEGUT
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is another must-read in the canon of time travel literature. This is the story of Billy Pilgrim, an American soldier in World War II who becomes “unstuck in time”. Vonnegut’s novel follows Pilgrim’s seemingly random journey forward and backwards through the events of his own life, which includes meetings with aliens and experiencing the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war. Slaughterhouse-Five is considered one of Vonnegut’s most autobiographical novels, as he, like Pilgrim, also survived the firebombing of Dresden as a POW.

 

The cover of the book RantRant
CHUCK PALAHNIUK
Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant is the story of a small-town troublemaker turned into a (literally) rabid time-traveling murderer and cult figure. Featuring super-secret nighttime demolition derbies, characters whose family are more like family poles, and time travel paradoxes that make stepping on a butterfly seem tame, Rant is as disgusting and hilarious as you would expect. There was a movie in the works, but it seems to have slipped into Development Hell. Or maybe that’s just in our own timeline?

 

The cover of the book KindredKindred
OCTAVIA E. BUTLER
Octavia Butler’s Kindred takes time travel fiction into one of America’s darkest historical episodes: slavery. In this groundbreaking work, an African American woman is suddenly and inexplicably sent backwards in time, coming face to face with a future slaveowner who has an unexpected connection to her own family. Kindred is an unflinching look at the horrors of slavery, and the ways that they still impact the present day.

 

The cover of the book The Gone WorldThe Gone World
TOM SWETERLITSCH
A government agent tasked to investigate the slaughter of a Navy SEAL’s family learns that it, and other acts of horrific violence, may be connected to a secret time travel program tasked with preventing the end of the world. As a veteran of the program, the agent knows the tolls it take on participants — she’s suffered dearly in the line of service, too — but will that be enough to stop the bloodshed?

 

The cover of the book How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional UniverseHow to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
CHARLES YU
Ready to get meta? In How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, author Charles Yu introduces us to Charles Yu: a customer service tech who repairs time machines in a minor alternate universe under contract to Time Warner Time. In between service calls, Yu and his dog (which may or may not exist) search for his father, lost somewhere in a pocket dimension of his own. Maybe one in a book …

 

The cover of the book The Time Traveler's AlmanacThe Time Traveler’s Almanac
ANN VANDERMEER AND JEFF VANDERMEER
Still don’t know where to start? Pick up Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Time Traveler’s Almanac, a comprehensive anthology of time-hopping fiction. inside, you’ll find work from Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, and many others. As they’ve amply demonstrated across several great anthologies, the VanderMeers know their way around speculative fiction like few do, and are the perfect guides for your journey into the genre.

Cosmic Inspiration: 12 Illuminating Books Paired to Zodiac Signs

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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.

The cover of the book The PowerThe Power
Naomi Alderman
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).

 

The cover of the book Fen: StoriesFen: Stories
Daisy Johnson
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.

 

The cover of the book Half Life: A NovelHalf Life: A Novel
Shelley Jackson
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.

 

The cover of the book Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman
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.

 

The cover of the book Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover: A NovelPlastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover: A Novel
Mila Jaroniec
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.

 

The cover of the book Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng
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.

 

The cover of the book Swing TimeSwing Time
Zadie Smith
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.

 

The cover of the book Ghost SongsGhost Songs
Regina McBride
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.

 

The cover of the book An Unkindness of GhostsAn Unkindness of Ghosts
Rivers Solomon
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.

 

The cover of the book Sing, Unburied, SingSing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward
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.”

 

The cover of the book What It Means When a Man Falls from the SkyWhat 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.

 

The cover of the book Ordinary BeastsOrdinary Beasts
Nicole Sealey
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.