How To Survive Mercury Retrograde With Books

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Connie Pan

Senior Contributor

Connie Pan is a writer and editor from Maui, Hawai‘i. She earned an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University and a BA in creative writing from Grand Valley State University. Her writing has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, Carve, HelloGiggles, PRISM International, The Billfold, and elsewhere. An excerpt from her novel-in-progress was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Instagram: @csnpan Twitter: @panlikepeter

Have you found yourself wanting to pull your turtleneck up over your eyes, turn off your phone, never leave bed? This sudden impulse could be because Mercury enters retrograde today and lasts until December 23. My trusty AstroAnalysis book says that Mercury rules the mind, communication, intellect, and perception, so when the planet does that thing we hate, prepare for chaos. Hold tight to this advice—matched with reading recommendations—to temper the storm.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl StrayedIn the wake of surly people and failed communication after failed communication, ease tumult, hindrances, and annoyances by indulging in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. Who doesn’t need a “sweet pea” or a “my dear” during dark times? I especially love Strayed’s musing on love in “Like an Iron Bell”: “It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and ‘loaded with promises and commitments’ that we may or may not want or keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love.” When all the forces of the world seem to be clashing, return to these words to remind you of all of love’s guises.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García MárquezMercury retrograde is the perfect opportunity for reflection. Avoid legal agreements and big purchases, and let your mind wander by reading outside of your choice genre. If you love biographies, buy or borrow a graphic novel. If you choose comics again and again, read an epistolary novel or a bildungsroman. If you prefer poetry, read journals and diaries. Work that brain with some psychological digging. Reread your favorite titles. What drew younger-you to those words? Are they still balm to your soul or have you outgrown them? Some touchstones I always return to: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, which I’m listening to now. How could I ever get over “I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love”?

With heightened intuition during Mercury retrograde, coincidences can steal your breath. Investigate dream symbols with The Dreamer’s Dictionary, record magical moments and insights beautifully with phenoms Rupi Kaur, Cleo Wade, and Yrsa Daley-Ward in mind.

simulacra by Airea D. MatthewsPractice patience and count on delays while Mercury is retrograding. Store audiobooks in your car or download them on your phone for traffic. Keep a book in your tote for long lines and technical difficulties. Poetry fits perfectly in snippets of time. Every collection feels travel size, but if space is limited, carry something smaller but packed with meaning: any of the City Lights Pocket Poets including Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg and State of Exile by Cristina Peri Rossi, or any of the Yale Series of Younger Poets winners especially Crush by Richard Siken and Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews.

Don’t let the phrase Mercury retrograde back you into an emotional wormhole. Use this time to your advantage by minding these tips—inspired by the Farmer’s Almanac and gleaned from experience—to make the best of these weeks by hunkering down with words.