Book Reviews


Another solar revolution? Here’s your literary solution


It’s nearly time to retire #ForeverAlone, Aries. 2018 has quite a few surprises in store, but allow us to spoil one: you’ll soon be trading in that signature independence for companionship. Platonic, romantic, an intense new business venture – whatever the reason, you should definitely expect some fireworks! If the idea of sharing your life (or any significant portion of it) with someone new brings you pause, think carefully about why that is. What are some long-held patterns or mental traps you’d like to break free of this year? What are your plans for the future that may be positively impacted by your sharing that emotional, spiritual, or psychological load? Taking risks is important, but only after you’ve at least thought through why you held yourself back from taking them sooner. As the author of your lucky book this year will tell you, timing is more than everything – it’s a science. From the smallest questions – when is the best time to visit the hospital? – to the biggest – when should I get married? – Daniel Pink cuts to heart of how to approach living your life in a richer and more engaged way. As you face down the challenges this new year will bring, feel secure in the knowledge of not only what you hope to accomplish, but when.

LUCKY BOOK: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink


Welcome to 2018, Taurus! This year, your mission is to find the people who consistently bring love, peace, and joy to your soul, and hold on to them. A new year means another chance, a fresh set of challenges to tackle, and you’ll want to make sure you have the strongest team possible surrounding you. Let’s be real: you know you can be a bit stuck in your ways sometimes. Life can be unpredictable, so you like to cope by maintaining a sense of order and control. A perfectly understandable urge, but this mindset can often lead to you missing on some of the most fascinating and powerful lessons life has to offer. This year, try to keep your eyes open and see what is being offered to you. New adventures can be scary, but you only get one life to live! For inspiration, your lucky book this year tells the story of two young people whose talent, lust for life and love for each other led to them all sorts of new, life-altering places. A fantastical tale of chasing your dreams, or an escapist balm for your tentative soul? Taurus, as always, you decide.

LUCKY BOOK: The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill


Gemini, you may find yourself approaching 2018 with the characteristic indecisiveness of your sign: you are of two minds about something critical, and desperate to find a solution. Amid all the clamor surrounding new year’s resolutions and intentions, you are probably wanting to hide yourself in a corner until you can sort out exactly how you’re feeling about your future. Take heart: despite the glitzy photo ops and inspirational status updates, feeling lost around this time of year is the norm, not the exception. But it will greatly benefit you to tackle these areas of confusion head on, rather than allow the issues of 2017 to bleed into what could be a fresh start. So take action: get serious about your fitness plan. Burn off some of that stress at the gym, on a yoga mat, or on the running track. Journal. Lose yourself in crochet, if that’s your cup of tea. Use whatever outlet necessary to externalize what you’ve been keeping inside, and let that natural process bring clarity to your path forward. And for your yearly literary inspiration, let the main character of your lucky book illuminate how not to go about your decision making! This slim novel is full to the brim of razor-sharp insight that will give you plenty to think about, both personally and on a broader cultural level. (Sometimes, looking outward and gaining a wider perspective can be just as helpful, if not more.) Chin up, Gem, you’ll get where you need to be in time.

LUCKY BOOK: New People by Danzy Senna


Cancer, your word for the year is commitment. Yes, there it is! You’re welcome. A goal you can work towards, a theme you can build your decisions around, a clear goal post. But don’t be fooled: sometimes, the more transparent your purpose, the more difficult it becomes to attain. Challenges you’ve never experienced before are sure to come this year, as all growth requires change. People and situations will surprise you, and you will find yourself questioning some of your core beliefs. This is why it is so crucial to examine those very beliefs now, as well as your closest relationships and ambitions for the future. What has lingered that you feel ready to let go of? What decision or relationship or potential opportunity have you been wavering on, that finally deserves your full attention? Let this be the year that you finally figure out what it is you want and need, and commit yourself fully to making those things happen – despite the obstacles that are sure to arise. Your lucky book this year is a true classic, and a testament to the power of the unshakable human will to persevere during even the toughest times. And a commitment to being your most authentic self, no matter how unusual (or nerdy!) that self may be. You can do this, Cancer. If it helps, let Oscar be your guide.

LUCKY BOOK: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz


Leo, this is the year you’ll be tasked with pursuing honesty: in your relationship with yourself, with others, your job, your goals. You may find that at times, you’re stuck between the personal and the public: how do you conduct yourself when you’re alone or in the presence of your closest friends or family, versus your persona when you’re outside of your comfort zone? Do you find that you adopt a new personality depending on your setting? How is that working for you? How is it getting you closer to kind of person you’d like to be? If making that constant switch has left you feeling exhausted and sometimes, unsure of who you truly are, then maybe it’s time to leave that emotional and mental labor in 2017. But this doesn’t have to be a completely isolating exercise, meant to separate you fully from a place of comfort. To the contrary: coming to terms with exactly who you are and what you want means that you’ll be necessarily deepening the relationships that matter to you most. You’re doing the work of seeing these people anew, recognizing what they bring to the table, and becoming even more cognizant of how to show your appreciation for them in turn. When the world demands much of you, knowing where home is becomes so much more important. Your lucky book this year will provide a very similar kind of comfort: a warm, intimate novel that deals movingly with the question of personal identity, and finding a home in the world and in other people. Keep it close by for whenever you begin to feel a little lost.

LUCKY BOOK: Refuge by Dina Nayeri


Happy New Year, go-getter Virgo! You thrive on the seductive promise of a fresh start, a crisp blank page. So what’s written in the stars for 2018? If you’ve been wanting to reboot your creativity, bingo. This is your year. Take the time to revisit your old journals, abandoned Google Docs, phone notes…wherever you’ve scribbled or jotted down ideas. What can you begin to create? What can you improve upon? Throwing yourself into a new or previously-started project will not only get your creative pistons firing again, but it has the added bonus of bringing you out of your self-imposed winter hibernation mode. Even if the weather is still far too frightful to physically venture outside more than is absolutely necessary where you live, now is the time to remember you have a phone, and use it! Reach out to the people that you know you can rely on to hold you accountable, be honest with their feedback, and encourage even your zaniest ideas. These are the personal and professional relationships that will get you through another year of intense failures and triumphs as you hone your craft and calling. After all, your work is what will live on forever after you’re gone, and don’t you want to leave something behind worth remembering? This year, your lucky book will remind you of how precious and temporary our time on earth is – and the boundless mystery that awaits us on the other side. But for the time being, Virgo, enjoy and make the most of every moment. 2018 looks great on you.

LUCKY BOOK: The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce


2018 is your year to dig in, Libra. There are things you’ve wanted for a long time – from your relationships, your career, your health, your hobbies – that for whatever reason, you’ve put on hold or tried to ignore. Very often, we’re told to curb our desires and practice sacrifice, which can be good in moderation, but let’s be real: life is short! Time is precious. And in this new year, as you stare down a chance to begin anew, why not finally go after what you desire? You may be surprised at how much your self confidence improves once you stop denying yourself. Just know that once you begin to ask life for exactly what you want, it has a way of showing you who is and isn’t going to help or encourage you during your journey. Certain paths that may have seemed appealing before may suddenly reveal themselves to be unhealthy for you right now. And vice versa! Your lucky book for 2018 will become a touchstone as you navigate this new unapologetic phase of your life, because practicing mercy – for yourself and others – is an absolute necessity. If you want to consistently live with radical honesty, understand that bearing a compassionate mindset will go very, very far in helping to keep you sane. This will be quite a year for you, Libra! Are you ready?

LUCKY BOOK: Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott


Scorpio, it’s a brand new year! A brand new day! What will you do with it? If you’ve been following the news and internalizing all of the ugliness in the world, consider this your permission to take a few steps back and recalibrate. In 2018, try to focus a little less on large-scale issues that you can’t affect as urgently and immediately as you would like, and focus a little more on you. Yes! You! Think about things you’ve never tried before, places you’ve never been, recipes you’ve never tried. Imagine if this was the year you tried all of those new things, and shamelessly enjoyed the sensation of taking risks for the hell of it! Even if stepping out on a limb feels overwhelming and scary in the moment, you’ll leave those experiences knowing that you’ve once again pushed yourself and discovered something new. Sometimes, your literary inspiration is all the more powerful when you read about someone who’s tread a similar path, but taken it to the extreme: for you, Scorpio, this book is no exception. Your lucky book for 2018 is about a group of people who decide to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, and leave behind a way of existence that most people never consider doing without. All in search of a simpler, more ethical life. Sound impossible? Think again. Keep this close by when you start to doubt yourself: you can handle more than you may believe.

LUCKY BOOK: The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America by Mark Sundeen


Are you familiar with the serenity prayer, Sag? That will be your mantra for 2018, so Google it now and jot it down somewhere if you aren’t. Life is going to have some very interesting lessons to teach you this year, but only if you let it. While you’re generally agreeable to go with the flow, sometimes watching the relentless passage of time (all the more noticeable at the beginning of a new year) can make us cling to what we find familiar out of misplaced fear. For you, giving in to this fear will mean fewer breakthroughs, opportunities, and chances for growth. Focus on reconnecting with your support system – you’ll be happy for their presence and care during difficult moments. Reacquaint yourself with some guilty pleasures – they’ll be perfect for when you need a mindless diversion. 2018 is all about the practice of letting go and seeing where life can take you. You’ll reap the benefits in due time, that is certain. But in the meantime, if you’re struggling to relinquish the reins, your lucky book this year will remind you, on every scale, the inevitabilities of life in this universe. The facts shared in this book are fascinating on an admittedly geeky level, but even more than that, they’re a very comforting reminder of the sheer vastness and complexity of the world around us. In considering the black holes and the ingredients that make up our world, how earth-shattering do your troubles seem? Take refuge in knowing that we’re all here for a brief moment in time, and cannot truly control our fate. Better to watch the universe in action. 2018: here we go.

LUCKY BOOK: Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli


#NewYearNewYou indeed, Cap! 2018 will be a year of intense work, but don’t worry, it’s good kind: the kind where you get to focus on YOU. It’s already in your nature to use a new beginning to take stock and set goals and ambitions. So, you’ve begun the journey already. Where do you want to be by December? What would you like to do away with? To develop? To learn? The only constant in life is change, and this year will be full of it. Redefining yourself is no small task, so employ whatever resources you need. Is there someone in your life you’ve admired from the sidelines for years? They could be the mentor you’ve been dreaming of? A skill or hobby you’ve never attempted? Sign up for a lesson! It’s never too late to pick up something new, or to embrace a part of yourself that may have been lying dormant. But this also means you need to make sure you’re in the right place: that you aren’t holding onto any outdated relationships, jobs, or living situations that make becoming who you’re meant to be unnecessarily difficult. (If assertiveness is something that you could work on, this time of self-improvement is a fantastic time to start.) Your 2018 read is a book of magnificent scope and emotional depth, following the lives of six friends from adolescence to adulthood. As their identities and passions shift, merge, and diverge, they learn lasting lessons about love, power, envy, and the way life can shake up your perceptions of what you once thought to be indelible truths. Step into the shoes of these characters and absorb these lessons for yourself, Cap. A new day is on the horizon – are you ready?

LUCKY BOOK: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer


2018 is YOUR YEAR, Aquarius. Believe that. The stars are aligning to put pep in your step and money in the bank! Allow your ambitions to soar, let yourself continue to dream big. Don’t set a limit on what you hope to achieve, just envision exactly what it is you want. Got it? Are you holding onto that image? Good. This is your year to go after it. It’s going to take some intense focus, so be prepared for that. Get yourself a good planner and figure out some effective productivity tips. Has yoga always failed to actually quiet your mind? Cancel your membership. Are you secretly a night owl? Make the majority of your friend group hangs happen at brunch. Momentum is everything, so the more forward-thinking you are in terms of making your goals feasible and reachable, the more you’ll see your diligence rewarded this year, and the next, and, hopefully, the next! Hit the ground running with your lucky book for this year, guaranteed to set your mind buzzing with inspiration each time you pick it up. Elizabeth Gilbert, the self-empowerment queen herself, lays out how to tap into your innermost creative and the attitudes and habits you’ll need in order to live your most abundant life. Whether your ultimate ambition is to become CEO or start a community garden, you’ll find powerful truths that will help you bring that dream to fruition. So go on! 2018 is waiting!

LUCKY BOOK: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Welcome to the new year, Pisces! In 2018, your social circle is going to undergo a makeover. This doesn’t mean you need to suddenly drop your friends to the curb – if they’re not meant to be in your life, they will fade away! But finding the tribe you want to keep close will take some effort on your part. Much of what is in store for you this year will involve embarking upon new adventures, engaging with the unknown. And the people who encourage and accompany you will be absolute invaluable. Who do you see doing life with you, platonically or romantically, for the foreseeable future? What are the qualities you cherish in a close friend, and what do you have to offer? The connections you make this year will be some of the most transformative and lasting of your life, so keep your eyes open. Don’t let pivotal social gatherings or networking events pass you by. After all, who couldn’t use a bit more love in their life? In your lucky book for 2018, a young student travels to the Middle East to find the manuscript of ancient love story. But it is her friendship with her host family, and resulting deep connection with a pair of star-crossed lovers, that completely changes what she’d previously assumed about herself. No matter what role you find yourself playing in your day-to-day life in 2018 – helper, lover, observer, dissenter – it is the relationships you build with those closest to you that will ultimately help you discover who you are. It may take some digging to find those people, but trust me: the search is worth it.

LUCKY BOOK: A Word For Love by Emily Robbins

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Kate Vane


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