So you still haven’t sat down and figured out your summer reading list? Jeez. You must be a Gemini.
Say what you will about astrology, but at the very least, you can’t deny that the 12-sign system makes for a tidy method of organizing complicated human emotions and proclivities. Mom’s on your case about paying your rent a week late? Well, you’re a Sagittarius, she’s a Virgo… not a great combination. Accidentally spilled a drink mid-dance? I mean, you’re a Pisces; you just get so lost in the music. Ex-boyfriend’s haunting your Instagram with moody, Amaro-filtered selfies? Hey, you’re a jealous, fiery Leo, he’s a mysterious, reserved Scorpio. You guys would never have worked out anyway.
Sure, the Western zodiac system has a tendency to oversimplify and pigeonhole. BUT, that aside, a simple system makes explaining things easy; it also makes recommending things easy. Things like books. Which I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Why can’t you just sit down and pay attention, Aquarius!?
Hopefully you’ve already got your zodiac-specific YA book packed and ready to go with you on your summer vacation. But this season offers a slew of awesome literary fiction, too, so I’ve put together a list detailing which new book will be the perfect match for each of the 12 astrological signs. Perfectionist Virgos are gonna love this. Just don’t hate me if you find a typo. (But you won't find one, because I'm an Aries. I don't make mistakes.)
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
As the first sign in the zodiac, Aries are natural-born trendsetters. Rams don't shy away from new adventures: they dare to go where no (wo)man has gone before, whether that's bungee jumping off cliffs in Costa Rica or getting seriously inked/pierced/dyed or being the first of their friends to move to warehouse-laden Brooklyn. These trailblazers will find inspiration in Beryl Markham, the real-life heroine at the center of Paula McLain's July novel Circling the Sun: in 1936, Markham became the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic solo. She also had an affair with the Duke of Gloucester. Talk about badass.
Audrey At Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen by Luca Dotti
Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet embodying beauty and sensuality. So it's no surprise that Bulls — who also happen to be infamously stubborn creatures — insist upon surrounding themselves with beautiful things, eating well-made food, and draping themselves in finely-made clothing. It's also no surprise that legendary silver screen beauty Audrey Hepburn was a fellow Taurus. In Audrey at Home , Hepburn's son Luca Dotti shares his mother's story through her most loved recipes, all of which are as elegant and timeless (think a daily caffe latte, a rainbow of fresh produce, and lots of quality dark chocolate) as the woman herself.
Speak by Louisa Hall
Chatty Gemini are masters of communication: this Mercury-ruled signed is quick-witted, tech-minded, cutting-edge, and endlessly charming (or exhausting). On the flip side, the Twins are easily bored and infamous for their mercurial (get it?) moods. Hyperactive Gemini are best suited to books that'll pique their many interests, and which are fast-paced enough to keep them focused. Enter Louisa Hall's remarkable July novel Speak, which features not one, but five narrators: each inhabits separate geographical and temporal locations, but all reflect, in some way, on humanity's relationship with artificial intelligence. Cool enough for you, Gems?
Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott
Cancer babies are living proof that home is where the heart is: Crabs are highly domestic creatures, taking comfort in being nurtured and pride in nurturing others. Kathleen Alcott's beautiful August novel Infinite Home is a testament to a home's redemptive, restorative power. Compassionate Cancers will also appreciate Alcott's assertion that a makeshift family — even when it includes such a motley crew as a washed-up standup, an elderly woman succumbing to Alzheimer's, and an eccentric recluse — can sometimes be more emotionally fulfilling than the family you've been born into.
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
Just like the fierce jungle cats that symbolize them, Leos are courageous, loyal, and proud. But a Lion's extroverted nature can easily be mistaken for selfishness: rather, Leos are seriously generous. Sure, they want and need to have a good time, but they can't feel totally happy unless the people around them are having just as much fun as they are. Lions might relate to Mazie Phillips, the drama-seeking proprietress of The Venice movie theater on the Bowery about whom Jami Attenberg writes in her June novel. Leos will probably relate to Mazie's legendary brash humor, but they'll appreciate the real-life New York figure even more for her huge heart: she famously opened the doors of the theater to the homeless during the Depression.
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Detail-oriented Virgos try to do it all, but these practical and hard-working Virgins (just in symbol, guys) will likely succeed at doing so: these master multi-taskers thrive in complicated situations that would have all us other starbabies collapsing in a heap of stress-tears. I wouldn't be surprised if Alice Pearse, the witty and likeable heroine at the center of Elisabeth Egan's debut novel A Window Opens, was a Virgo herself: this working mother has to learn how to juggle a full-time job at a tech startup and a personal life with her husband, kids, and aging parents. Guess how she does?
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
Like Taurus, Libra is ruled by Venus, the planet of beauty and love. But you can really spot a Libra by her desire for order, fairness, and symmetry, both in her relationships and in the art she adores. In his shamelessly beautiful paintings, the 19th century Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro embodied these traits; and in The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman's August novel, the master of historical fiction elegantly tells the tale of Pissarro's parents' forbidden love story on the island of St. Thomas. Art, lust, and warm weather: all things hopelessly romantic Libras crave.
The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
In the mood for mystery? Enter Scorpio: enigmatic, intense, idiosyncratic Scorpions are the darkest creatures of the zodiac. A Scorpio would never settle for anything vanilla — she's spicy chocolate all the way. Scorpios love an intellectual challenge, so Lidia Yuknavitch's haunting, affecting The Small Backs of Children would be their idea of a perfect summer read, mainly because it'll give them nightmares.
The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt
Free-spirited Sagittarians are happy, and they know it. Flirty and charming, these rule-breakers thrive off of fun and sunshine and just feeling good, man. Archers will love Lisa Glatt's 1970s SoCal-set The Nakeds, which draws on both sunny surfer culture and bohemian nudist colonies (seriously) to deliver a vivid and compelling story. Just don't be surprised to see your Sag friend roaming around her house naked while reading this book.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Dependable Capricorns harbor a not-so-secret soft spot for tradition. No doubt Goats read and loved To Kill a Mockingbird in high school (hardworking Caps wouldn't dare skip an assignment): honest and loyal, they likely found inspiration and comfort in Atticus Finch's Teflon-strength morals. Capricorns probably already have an alarm set on their phones for July 14, the release date for Harper Lee's second book, Go Set a Watchman. Nostalgia and good-quality literature are two things Capricorns love best, and GSAW isn't likely to disappoint on either count.
The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida
Inspiring Aquarians are into innovation, originality, and revolutionary action. Experimental literature is their bread and butter, and this summer's best is Vendela Vida's second-person-narrated The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty, which follows an unnamed woman as she loses her identity (literally: her wallet is stolen) among the bustling souks of Morocco. These freedom seekers will feel energized by Vida's surrealist style, as well as her musings on the transient nature of personal identity.
The Daughters by Adrienne Celt
Artsy Pisceans are ruled by their active imaginations: these Fish love nothing more than being swept away by a beautiful story; even better if it includes mythological creatures. Adrienne Celt's The Daughters, which was inspired in part by the Slavic myth of the rusalka, will satisfy Pisces' intuitively artistic nature and their innate escapist fantasies. Happy swimming, dreamy fish...