When I was bored one day at work, I decided to open a spreadsheet and record my favorite authors and their zodiac signs. It was the kind of mindless task that helped pass the hours of drudge that could be my working day.
I know very little about the intricacies of astrology, and check my horoscope only every once in a while. I’m a Sagittarius, but don’t feel like I qualify as the positive, easy-going, friendly kind of person that Astrology.com tells me are the general traits of a Sag. I just missed being a Scorpio, and feel much more akin to their witchier vibes. But we can’t choose our birthday, or the stars we’re born under, so I remain, oddly, a Sagittarius.
In uncertain times (current times), astrology can be a comfort, or an explanation for the inexplicable. It can be complicated or simple, depending on the work you’re willing to put into understanding it. As a rule, I prefer simplicity. I know my sign so I can look up my horoscope. That’s it, very simple. But some people are way more proficient in the movement of the planets, and claim to be able to tell a person’s past and future based on the alignment of the celestial bodies.
Really, the belief in astrology is a belief in a predetermined fate. Most of us don’t want to take that deep of a dive into our own destiny, so prefer the daily love scopes that can be found on meme accounts on Instagram; or, to create a completely arbitrary spreadsheet of authors and their zodiac signs because they’re bored at work.
I don’t know if I was predestined to love certain authors and certain books based on a birth chart, but as I organized authors according to their birthdays into the columns associated with their zodiac signs, a definite pattern emerged.
Here are the results:
I did not have any authors under Aries.
Under Taurus were Daphne Du Maurier, Charlotte Brontë, Catherynne M. Valente, Samantha Hunt, and Barbara Park. Remove Barbara Park from the equation, and Taurus feels very gothic. The authors of Rebecca and Jane Eyre sharing a sign seems fateful, and the inclusion of Valente and Hunt, who write dark fairytales, feels like a portentous positioning of heavenly bodies.
During her Nobel Prize speech in 2015, Svetlana Alexievich classified herself as a human ear: “Flaubert called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear. When I walk down the street and catch words, phrases, and exclamations, I always think—how many novels disappear without a trace!” The collector of human stories is a perfect Gemini. Gemini’s are kind of the quintessential “human ear,” they love to talk and gather information from conversations.
Kindred, Octavia Butler’s science fiction horror novel about a contemporary Black woman getting transported back to the antebellum South and becoming a slave on her ancestor’s plantation, has one of the best and most horrible villains in Rufus Weylin. He sent chills down my spine. Ian McEwan’s Atonement has the best ending of any book I’ve ever read. I have no explanation for Octavia Butler and Ian McEwan’s connection, or their writing in relation to the traits of a Cancer, but I love both authors for their humanism and intensity.
Leos are vivacious and dramatic. A fire sign, Leos have passionate personalities that I’d imagine would be quite intimidating in a relationship. For instance, take the deranged passion of Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights: “Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!” Emily Brontë, the author of one of my favorite classics, was my only Leo.
Virgo & Libra
I must not be compatible with late summer/early fall, because I didn’t have any authors fall under these signs.
Almost a Scorpio, I could have shared a sign with Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath, and Zadie Smith. Scorpios are intense. They are the sign of death and regeneration, are ruled by the sex organs, their colors are red and black, and their tarot card is Death. Which brings me to Sylvia Plath. In her poem “Lady Lazarus,” which was published two years after her death by suicide, she wrote: “Herr God, Herr Lucifer / Beware / Beware. // Out of the Ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.” A woman rising from death as a demon to eat men! That sounds like a typical Scorpio.
I’ve said that I don’t feel like I belong within the Sagittarius tribe. But, based on the books and authors I love, I must share some kind of deep affinity with my fellow Sagittariuses, because it was by far my fullest column: Shirley Jackson, George Saunders, Gustave Flaubert, Jane Austen, Nancy Mitford, LM Montgomery, and Han Kang. These authors have written some of my favorite books: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Haunting of Hill House, Life Among the Savages, Lincoln in the Bardo, Pastoralia, Madame Bovary, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Love in a Cold Climate, The Pursuit of Love, Emily of New Moon (all the Emily books), and The Vegetarian. Taurus and Gemini were the only two signs that came close to comparing, but they’re still a distant second and third. So what does this mean? Am I truly meant to be a Sagittarius?
David Sedaris is the only Capricorn on my list, but I don’t mind him having his own special place.
Although only three, these authors are all very important to me, and I love their entire body of work. Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own, To the Lighthouse, Orlando), Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House), and Toni Morrison (Sula, Beloved, The Bluest Eye) are all Aquarians. Aquarians are thoughtful, caring people, who want to make the world a better place. Morrison, Dickens, and Woolf had their own ideas about how the world could be better, and all died having made a contribution to its betterment.
Not a single Pisces on the list.
My superficial understanding of astrology makes me skeptical, and, like Hamlet, I prefer to believe we have some autonomy over our own destiny. But I also understand the allure of a fixed fate. In this world, many of us do not have control of the systems that govern our daily lives, so astrology, and daily horoscopes, can be a helpful coping tool.
Creating your own spreadsheet of your favorite authors’ zodiac signs might also be a very good distraction in very hard times, so please, try this experiment for yourself and see if you come up with a similar result.
Note: Most of the information relating to each Zodiac sign I gathered from Astrology.com, which is a very helpful resource.