An illustration of an open book with constellations floating above it against a pastel background
An illustration of an open book with constellations floating above it against a pastel background

Have you found yourself thinking about your star sign lately? Perhaps you’re following one of those Instagram accounts that posts memes about how much of a Virgo you are, or idly googling “Mercury in retrograde” during one of those weeks when nothing seems to go right. You’re not alone: interest in Western astrology has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, with turbulent world events such as the pandemic and global warming sending Google search interest for “birth chart” and “astrology” into a five-year high.

But if you’ve had a play around on the apps and want to delve deeper into your ascendant sign, moon sign and more, books can offer next-level insight into astrology.

Before you get to grapple with reading the signs, a thorough understanding of the basics will help. Jeff Mayo’s Astrology: A Key to Personality will take you through them: how to interpret a chart, what astrology can tell us about the roots of our behaviour and what it can say about our future. Sue Merlyn Farebrother offers a comprehensive, step-by-step course in getting to grips with astrology in Astrology Decoded. Carolyne Faulkner offers a more contemporary take on the 12 signs in The Signs, with straightforward and simple guidance on using your birth chart to make better life decisions and forge stronger relationships.

For those who want to really dig into the 12 astrological signs themselves, take a look at The Inner Sky by Steven Forrest, which acts as a brilliant primer for newbies and a great reference for those who want to expand their knowledge.

Once you feel comfortable working out the difference between your risings and your retrogrades, Farebrother’s follow-up, Astrology Forecasting, will give you a handle on astrological prediction. By exploring the four main forecasting techniques, she helps the reader understand how to take charge of readings and help get a better grip on what lies ahead in their life. Fancy something a little more bite-sized? Astrology IRL strips away the detail to get to the meat of the matter with straight-talking and truthful life advice according to the stars.

Of course, there’s also the astrological approach to dating to be considered: perhaps that rift in your relationship, budding romance or overly long dry spell is due to issues beyond your control. There’s much to be said about compatibility at an astrological level, not least by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers, the authors behind The Secret Language of Relationships: Your Complete Personology Guide to Any Relationship with Anyone. The book contains 1,176 combinations of personalities, which is probably more than most people can manage in a lifetime but makes for an excellent coffee-table tome to reach for at a party.

If you’re after something a little more accessible, millennial astrologer Annabel Gat released The Astrology of Love & Sex in 2019, which explains the flirting, dating and sexual preferences of each star sign, as well as compatibility profiles.

Perhaps you’re after a more practical means of putting your astrological intel into action. Enter Sandy Sitron’s Moon Journal, a beautiful guided journal to help you harness the changing energies of the moon through affirmations, rituals and exercises – with some astrological guidance along the way.

And finally, if you just want to dip a toe in via some astrologically themed fiction, there’s plenty – and from surprising sources. Eleanor Catton won the Booker Prize in 2013 with The Luminaries, a novel tightly structured around the movements of the moon, both in date and shape to reflect its waning size. Readers were intrigued by chapter titles such as “Mercury in Capricorn” at the time, but those with a good grounding in astrology would have been offered another reading entirely.

Catton wasn’t the first to do this, either. In fact, those dismissing astrology as a fad would do well to look to Chaucer: the 14th-century poet set his epic Troilus and Criseyde according to astrological principles, a move aped by Spenser in writing The Faerie Queen. But as you’ll know, after reading some of these books, those naysayers are probably just Aries, anyway.

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

Image: Ryan MacEachern / Penguin

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