It’s our second edition of Reading the Signs—a series in which we recommend books based on your zodiac sign—and we’re celebrating stories centered around family for Cancer season. You’re likely to be feeling the need to give the world a cookie and a hug during Cancer season and there is no better way to indulge that impulse than sharing books with the people you love.
Here to help is Caitlin Landuyt—our astrology obsessed editor who has looked to the stars to find the perfect books for you and your loved ones this month.
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
These precious baby rams are all careening around trying to avoid catastrophe, and none of them, not even a one, has any clue about the inherent power they have inside their sturdy, mountain-climbing sides.
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
Repressive patriarch has a whole self-indulgent life on the side? Taurus dream scenario. You have order on the one hand and all the luxe living you could ever want on the other. And no, it’s not ideal that you have to sort of be a jerk to everyone around you to get it, but listen, sacrifices must be made.
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
A charming emigrée besotted with life, have you even ever heard of a more Gemini thing? And of course the world is intent on stealing her Gemini fire, and OF COURSE the only way it can be reclaimed is when long-standing family secrets are finally exposed. Geminis love exposing a secret, even when it’s theirs.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
When you and your beloved are star-crossed by situations beyond your control, you better hope your beloved is a Cancer. Though Libras are the most romance-obsessed, a Cancer’s love runs deep. They are loyal and they are in it for the long haul. They’ll make inroads with your family and keep their heads down and go about creating a home you can step right into when the time is right. Happy birthday, Cancer. Truly, we do not deserve you.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I know I’m absolutely gonna get it for this one, but this book is chock full of Leos. The March family is like Leo, Leo, Leo, and Beth. Poor thing never stood a chance. I know. Unless you’re a Leo, you’re outraged. “Meg?!” you ask me incredulously. Good Lord yes. She’s so smug about doing the expected, and doing it all right, and kind of rolling her eyes at her younger sisters. And now you’re pulling your hair out screeching “Jo is NOT a Leo!!!” at me. But you are wrong, my friend. Jo is TOTALLY a Leo. Jo is constantly flouncing around doing something that she wants to do, charming the pants (almost) off of Laurie, getting her best haircut, and demanding things. I know I don’t need to convince you of Amy. And that’s it. I rest my case.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
It’s not that Virgos, like Hattie, are uptight control freaks. They’re totally not. The thing is, though, they know exactly what it is you should be doing, and they want to help you get there. And the other thing is bedside manner is not really for them. So you’ll come out the other side in great shape, but it’s not necessarily going to leave you with the warm and fuzzies. “Listen,” they say, “what’s the problem? You made it, didn’t you?” You are welcome to be upset but it will just confuse them.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, and 99.99999% of the time that’s great; it’s the absolute best. But the planet of love and beauty does have a dark side. For Taurus it mostly amounts to overindulging in everything (Jabba the Hutt was totally a Taurus) but for Libras it’s all about internalizing those toxic societal norms. Libran Pecola wants nothing more than to be the type of lovely and kind that society says women should be, and that may damn near destroy her. Give yourself a hug, Libra. Society is full of nonsense.
Family by J. California Cooper
Ghosts! Human cruelty! Manipulation! I know, I know. Scorpios get a bad rap. But a Scorpio knows how to read those around her and knows how to use it to further her own aims. And, most importantly, a Scorpio knows that one man’s manipulation is another man’s survival mechanism.
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Non-traditional narrative structure you say? Mixed media you say? Metaphors within metaphors within metaphors, you say? Congratulations, every Sagittarius for miles is swarming right now. You have sounded their clarion call.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Capricorns love nothing more than solving a problem, and they are always sure they know the best way to do it. And that’s totally fine, unless there’s another Capricorn in the mix, and those two sea goat angels have a different best way to solve the problem. Then all of a sudden everyone is fixing everything in their own way without clueing anyone else in and you’re left with not only a giant mess, but a lot of hurt feelings because WHY did you think YOU could fix it, didn’t you know it was up to ME to fix it?? Sigh.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
No one does social justice quite like an Aquarian. And I mean that both as a compliment and as a sad shake of the head, because Aquarians are convinced that only they can save the world and also that in order to do it they must destroy themselves. No spoilers, but the characters in this novel are really full on in that Aquarian death spiral, and the rest of us can only pray they pull themselves out in time.
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Listen, you cannot tell a Pisces to snap out of it. You just can’t. And in this case, poor, lovely Alice really did kind of a dumb thing, but maybe she only really needs to dwell on it for like…a year or two? But she’s a Pisces so this is her life now. Can her husband and best friend snap her out of it? You’ll have to read but honestly? I wouldn’t bet on it.