Booklist Reader Horoscope: Planets in Retrograde

Much like each successive season of The Bachelor, this summer has shaped up to be one of the dramatic ones on record. We’re blaming this on the five planets currently in retrograde—astrologically, planets in retrograde appear to be moving backwards across the sky, which means disruption and slowdowns in our daily lives.

In the future, of course, we’ll have the Space Force to handle these kinds of situations. But for now, the best we can offer is some recommendations for our star-crossed times; Booklist reviews are excerpted below.




When Mars is in retrograde, it frustrates attempts to forge ahead with our plans. This phase is a minefield of impulsive decisions, short-sighted actions, and self-destructive behavior. For an examination of progress, its unintended consequences, and new paths forward, read Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver:

In this exceptionally involving and rewarding novel, Kingsolver considers how our ways of living are threatened by the changing climate and our ever-increasing pressure on the biosphere. Kingsolver insightfully and valiantly celebrates life’s adaptability and resilience, which includes humankind’s capacity for learning, courage, change, and progress.





Mercury finally leaves retrograde on August 19, bringing an end to the fritzy communication and crossed signals that ruled over the last couple months. (It’s not you, it’s Mercury—I swear). For some insight, pick up Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, by Melissa Dahl:

Dahl, editor of New York magazine’s “Science of Us,” knows awkward. Cringeworthy is her attempt to finally get to the bottom of this ubiquitous human experience, using herself as guinea pig.





Saturn governs discipline and routine. Until September 19, you’ll be held karmically accountable for your past mistakes (which for some of us is bad news); it’s a time to reflect and carefully structure for the future. For when the past comes back to haunt you, read Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott:

Kit Owens has a secret—actually, it’s Diane Fleming’s secret, shared when the two of them were teens, but the shocking revelation creates a burden and a twisted bond Kit wishes they didn’t have. A brilliant riff on hard science, human nature, and the ultimate unknowability of the human brain.





The planet of introspection, dreams, and the subconscious went into retrograde about a month before Drake dropped “In My Feelings” (and about a month and a day before it became chronically overplayed). Neptune in retrograde  is a good time for creative and spiritual reflection, but resist the temptation to drift away completely from the outside world.

Or don’t, with A Year of Rest and Relaxationby Ottessa Moshfegh:

The unnamed 24-year-old narrator of Moshfegh’s intriguingly bizarre second novel decides to hibernate in 2000. For about a year, aided by a dizzying parade of pills, she’ll treat the Manhattan apartment her inheritance bought her as her den. Propulsive, both disturbing and funny, and smart as hell.





Even though we’ve revoked its full-planet status, Pluto rules our relationship with power and control. As midterm elections creep up, these questions grow all the more relevant. Dig in with For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, by Donna Brazile,  Yolanda Caraway, Veronica Chambers, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore:

This trailblazing crew of black women, self-described “Colored Girls,” have been in the room with power brokers since the 1960s and have wielded significant influence on Democratic presidential campaigns and administrations. Told with obvious deep respect and affection, this is a spirited look at the politics and personal lives of four iconic women.


About the Author:

I'm a summer intern with Booklist and an MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University.

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