We all know that astrology is far from a new concept, yet it feels more popular now than ever. From displays of tarot cards and crystals at our local indie retail stores, to increasingly popular astrology-based social media accounts, messages of cosmic fortune and fate seem omnipresent. For Vanessa Montgomery, astrologer and author of Star Power: A Simple Guide to Astrology for the Modern Mystic, this modern devotion to the ancient craft is not at all surprising.
"I have an astrological take on that! Neptune is in Pisces!" Montgomery tells Bustle over email. "Neptune rules our spiritual connection (including arts, fashion, cinema, etc.) and it's in its home sign of Pisces. Currently we’re at peak unicorn, crystals, and mindfulness for this reason. Astrology bridges the divide between an intuitive art and a science that’s been developed through observation and trial so it appeals to all types. It takes us into the liminal space and amazingly reveals so much."
Montgomery has been studying astrology since 2002, when she was student at the Australian school, Astro*Synthesis. There, she not only learned the fine art of modern mysticism, but decided that her path to using astrology to help guide others was her own true cosmic destiny.
"I have five planets in Sagittarius, the sign of the seeker of the ultimate truth, freedom and enlightenment," she says. "Finding a system or code to unlock cosmic secrets as well as the mysteries of individual people was beyond appealing. I saw astrology as a system I could also employ to help others be their best self, validate and heal."
That desire to help others use astrology to better their lives led her to write a book, Star Power, which focuses on finding the sweet-spot between hokey meme accounts and complex birth charts to make the art of astrology easy to understand and utilize.
"While there are an abundance of older astrology books available, and the astrology ranges from OK to excellent, they’re so dated in a lot of ways," Montgomery says. "As a modern girl, living in a modern world, I didn’t relate to the imagery, the archetypes or the languaging. I saw there was a large, new appetite for astrology but wasn’t seeing much available that was modern, [in-depth] enough, yet accessible. I saw creating Star Power as an opportunity to reform and reload astrology in a way that was contemporary as well as encouraging, particularly for young women."
But Montgomery isn't only an author of books, she's a reader, too. So I asked for her expertise on just what books would make the best most cosmically-aligned reads for each Zodiac sign to add to their reading lists this summer (after you've picked up Star Power, of course.) She suggested some genres, themes, and overall vibes, and I paired them with one brand new or soon-to-be released book that I think perfectly encapsulates her recommendations.
Whether you're a Scorpio who wants their pants scared off, a Libra looking for something romantic, or a Cancer who is all about entertaining friends and family, there's a book for you below. And feel free to use Montgomery's tips to build your own Zodiac-inspired TBR:
If You're an Aries, You Should Read 'Lovely War' by Julie Berry
Montgomery says: "Aries is ruled by the god of war, loves confrontation and challenge, and is a pioneer. [Aries] loves to win and be first. Action, adventure stories, war stories, [and] survival stories against the elements [like] climbing a mountain [or] walking across a desert."
I recommend: Lovely War by Julie Berry. Ares, the god of war, is actually a character in Julie Berry's inventive and sweeping WWI epic, which Aries will no doubt find engrossing. The book weaves together multiple timelines and characters as a story of love and war unfolds.
If You're a Taurus, You Should Read 'Floral Libations' by Cassie Winslow
Montgomery says: "DIY, especially crafts or food. Books that are attractive, designed well, but also useful. A textured cover is a plus. Macrame, textiles, pottery, gardening, food or wine."
I recommend: Floral Libations by Cassie Winslow. This gorgeous tome combines so many of Taurus's favorite things: florals, food, drink, and crafting beautiful things. In Floral Libations, Winslow shares 41 drink recipes using floral elements. Each recipe is paired with stunning photography that make this book a functional art piece.
If You're a Gemini, You Should Read 'Hollywood's Eve' by Lili Anolik
Montgomery says: "[Gemini is] the sign of the intellect, communication, and connection. Fun facts, trivia, gossip, bite-size, snappy and cheeky."
I recommend: Hollywood's Eve by Lili Anolik. This biography of literary figure Eve Babitz, her time as an It girl in the '60s and '70s in L.A., and her subsequent disappearance from the public will enthrall Geminis, who will be hooked on the wild stories of Hollywood and its close-kept secrets.
If You're a Cancer, You Should Read 'Family' by Hetty McKinnon
Montgomery says: "Anything on homemaking, baking, food, family, comfort food for the whole family, nesting. Also quite romantic."
I recommend: Family by Hetty McKinnon. It sounds like Cancers would love nothing more than to entertain and nourish their friends and family all summer long. This cookbook will make a great addition to their collection.
If You're a Leo, You Should Read 'Meet Me in Monaco' by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb (July 23)
Montgomery says: "Inside every Leo there’s an actress calling for their Academy Award, so something appealing to their inner actress/celebrity would appeal.
I recommend: Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. This book captures all the glitz and glamour of actress Grace Kelly's whirlwind romance and wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1950, in a story jam-packed with romance, friendship, and tragedy.
If You're a Virgo, You Should Read 'HausMagick' by Erica Feldmann
Montgomery says: "[Virgo] is the sign of the editor and minimalist. Loves clean lines, and efficiency. Anything by Marie Kondo they see as a spiritual text! Natural health and well-being. They're an earth sign so they enjoy learning about the healing power of herbs, crystals, oils, and how to use them medicinally."
I recommend: HausMagick by Erica Feldmann. Whether a Virgo is inclined to call it "witchcraft" or not, HausMagick perfectly fits into the intersection of their two biggest interests: minimalism and well-being. This book uses herbalism, astrology, and other sacred principles to help transform any space into a sanctuary.
If You're a Libra, You Should Read 'You Are Always With Me' by Frida Kahlo
Montgomery says: "Anything on partnership. Romance. The book needs to look good, [with] great design. [Libra] loves biographies, books on art and culture, also beauty. [Libra] loves to read long form, as well as arty coffee table books that serve a decorative purpose."
I recommend: You Are Always With Me by Frida Kahlo. This translated book is filled with letters between the famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her mother, Matilde Calderon Kahlo. This beautiful, sweeping collection charts their relationship, Kahlo's thoughts on her husband, Diego, and her art, and spans the artist's travels through Mexico, New York and San Francisco. It is ideal for Libras who are fascinated with all things love and culture.
If You're a Scorpio, You Should Read 'Furious Hours' by Casey Cep
Montgomery says: "Crime. Murder mysteries, anything revealing the darker hidden seamy side of life. Ghost stories, near death experiences. How to read tarot, occult knowledge is a plus. Modern witchcraft and spells."
I recommend: Furious Hours by Casep Cep. Crime? Check. Murder mystery? Check. The hidden, seamy side of life? Check. Voodoo? Check. Casey Cep's masterful nonfiction book finishes the true crime story Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after she released To Kill a Mockingbird.
If You're a Sagittarius, You Should Read 'The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds' by Caroline Van Hemert
Montgomery says: "Just about anything nonfiction, they love to learn!" she says, adding that they love travel guides, travel stories, and anything about different places, faces, philosophies, cultures, or religions. "[Sagittarius] also rules humor, so make it light, positive and funny. An avid fan of seeing the bright side, Sag likes to contemplate the meaning of life and the bigger picture."
I recommend: The Sun is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert. This book is a mix of science and nature writing, personal travel narrative, and adventure story that hits all of Sags' sweet spots. This gripping story of a biologist's journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic is as contemplative as it is exciting.
If You're a Capricorn, You Should Read 'The Source Of Self-Regard' by Toni Morrison
Montgomery says: "Autobiographies of the great ones in society who came before them. [Capricorn] respects status and history. [They] love collections, like 'The Collected Works of,' etc. Anything on or about business or politics."
I recommend: The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison. Morrison is undeniably one of the most celebrated and revered writers in the literary canon. Capricorns will love this collection, which contains essays, speeches, and meditations on a wide variety of topics like human rights, female empowerment, creativity, and more.
If You're an Aquarius, You Should Read 'Trick Mirror' by Jia Tolentino (Aug. 6)
Montgomery says: "[Books] would have an eclectic mix of topics, styles. Unexpected titles, topics and subjects. Aquarius is intellectual and detached. They seek to stimulate their mind, so they'll like wordy, elaborate and longform books."
I recommend: Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. Trick Mirror is filled with essays that explore the unexpected connections between a wide-array of topics including the rise of social media, scammers, literary heroines and body image — and all fit the bill of intellectual, mind-stimulating, longform goodness.
If You're a Pisces, You Should Read 'Gods of Jade and Shadow' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (July 23)
Montgomery says: "Pisces is super sensii and emotional with an urge to escape reality. Appeal to their feelings and subtle intuition. They love the downtrodden, wounded birds, and can’t resist a sob story! [Pisces] loves anything fantastical, [and] magical reality."
I recommend: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book is the ideal read for a Pisces, who will love the Cinderella-esque aspects of Casiopea Tun's magical journey, from cleaning the floors in her grandfather's home to accompanying the Mayan god of death on his quest to reclaim his throne.