With our internet screens taking up so much of our social lives — everything from mandatory Zoom meetings to scheduled FaceTime dinners — it’s only natural that our spirits need regular technology breaks. After the endless hours spent typing, meditating, live-stream exercising, and playing synced board games, after baking your thousandth slightly-too-dry quick bread from a bad online recipe, there comes a time to unwind. What better way to unwind, to lay your own worldly troubles down, then to get lost in a fictional world that both speaks to you and is entirely separate from you? For this installment of quarantine-inspired astrology pairings, I’ve rounded up a list of recently published fiction novels sure to be good company on days when your eyes are yearning to rest on something you can feel and smell and clasp to your chest with awe or with anticipation for what lies ahead. Books, the original TV shows, am I right? Read on to find one contemporary novel paired with one sign but, keep in mind, tastes may vary! It’s not unusual to be led by your moon sign to your book of choice, since your moon represents the part of you that craves consistency, coziness, and comfort. On the other hand, you might find yourself on a path of personal expansion, in which case your rising sign might have something to offer for the person you’re hoping to grow into. Of course, you could just take this list and read every book on it — maybe even start a kind of Zodiac book club!
Did I pick this book for Aries because Aries is ruled by Mars, and this novel is chock full of stabby violence? Maybe. Or, maybe I chose this book for Aries because Aries novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite busts into the world of crime fiction with something that is entirely new and brazen: a plot where two sisters stay at the heart and the (dead) men are supporting characters. Trauma and darkness lap at the edges of this fast-paced read, but they don’t define it. For the Aries who’s looking to laugh in the face of death and longs for the one person who loves them even when they don’t understand their actions, this book is a perfect fit.
Taurus are serious people and since they are so serious, especially when it comes to beauty and art (since they are a Venus-ruled sign), it’s only right that the Taurus book of choice is Severance by Ling Ma. As a Taurus herself, Ling Ma attends to the state of post-apocalyptic horror in Severance with a kind of lyrical grace. Underneath a re-imagining of what life might look like on the other side of institutional collapse vibrates the truth of what it means to be first generation in a family that expected more for you than the world would ever let you have.
The truth is that Geminis are such voracious readers, such multitudinous collectors of ideas, I can’t imagine a book that wouldn’t keep a Gemini good company. Still, there’s something to be said for like attracting like and Gemini writer Nikki Darling’s recent novel, Fade Into You, is sure to be a Gemini magnet. A text that is equal parts ode to LA’s punk zine culture and a personal testament to youthful vibrancy in the face of systemic and intimate violence.
What better way for a Cancer babe to spend their time than whiling away the hours with Brit Bennett’s long-awaited second novel, The Vanishing Half? What Cancer could resist this Cancerian writer’s deft ability to take the strands of stories shared and hidden, belonging to the women of a family across generations, and make of them one quilted inheritance? For the isolated Cancer who longs to be where their family is and for the Cancer who grapples with the emotional burden of being part of a whole, this book is for you.
With everyone being called to “shelter in place,” many readers have been turning toward dystopian books that speak to international pandemics, books like Severance by Ling Ma and Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. While Leos might understand the appeal, they are also in the business of standing out. Why not turn, then, to the original quarantine queen herself? Circe. In her epic retelling of a witch-immortal, Leo writer Madeline Miller speaks to all Leos who suffer to be powerful and alone.
America Is Not The Heart was mailed to my door a year ago by a good friend who heard I was looking for a story that put women’s experiences at the center and, reader, it did not disappoint. Unraveling the tangled histories that knot so much of the Filipino-American experience, Virgo writer Elaine Castillo is a master time traveler. Mercury-ruled, Virgo will appreciate Castillo’s approach to language, its multitudes and nuances. This book, as much about intergeneration trauma as it is about learning to love someone in a way they can understand, teaches its reader what it means to see a country for the people in it.
While Ottessa Moshfegh might not be a Libra herself, her novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, is most certainly a Libra experience. Libras love to understand people they hate and Moshfegh’s unreliable narrator is sure to keep them interested. Set between the protagonist’s waking and dreaming life, this novel is perfect for the cardinal Libra who, amid international crisis, longs to leave their body and their world for a spell. Especially after working all day to do what little they can to save it. A book like an underworld passage across the river Styx and back, My Year of Rest and Relaxation strikes the balance Libras seek between what repulses us and what ultimately redeems us.
Kaitlyn Greenidge’s novel is a coming-of-age story, which all Scorpios love because they love transformations, but it’s not your regular coming-of-age at all. Set in a crumbling mansion in the Berkshires that houses as many secrets as the characters themselves, the story is framed around a family who has agreed to teach an ape to speak in sign language. Between pungent scenes of ape’s breath and teenage longing, we learn the secret rites and suppressed histories of the Black people of Spring City. For the Scorpio stuck at home with only their own secrets to sort, this book offers them at least three more veils to part and mysteries to unfold.
Any Sagittarius, from any part of the globe, will enjoy a novel set in the bowels of Florida, where everything is sticky with heat and no one seems to believe they’re ever allowed to be happy. Arnett fuses taxidermy, bereavement, and an unforgiving landscape of hopelessness with wry Sagittarian banter and deadpan charm. For the Sagittarius that wants an adventure or, really, a misadventure. Or, for the Sagittarius who wants to witness someone else unbreak their own heart, this liquor-soaked book is for you.
Few Capricorns can resist sprinkling a little bit of horror into their entertainment and why should their bedside book be any different? Capricorn author Megan Giddings offers readers a chilling narrative that investigates the limits of consent set in a remote town that caters to medical experimentation. While our country tug-o-wars over what it means to “re-open” a state while infection and death numbers rise, this book asks us what we are willing to do for money and how we know when we’ve betrayed ourselves.
Virtuoso has Big Aquarius Energy. This is the book for readers who resent any recommendation an established book club might make. It’s something like a mystery and something like a romance. If Ferrante’s Neapolitan series was condensed into one book and that one book was turned into a person who spent a good deal of time at queer punk shows on X, but then they got clean and a job where they wore pumps and a pencil skirt and longed for all the selves they had to abandon to survive — and then that person became a book — this would be that book.
This beautiful book by Pisces writer Laila Lalami is a whodunit unlike most. A family drama that explores the realities and complexities of immigrant identities in America set against an ongoing police procedural regarding a murder mystery. There is, throughout this fast-paced read, a river of interconnectedness. Many voiced and many-hearted, Lalami’s Piscean ability to underscore the ways otherness is a shared experience is sure to strike a note with Pisces readers.