The Astrology Book Tag

I saw this tag on Kristin Kraves Books (the original creator is Peace, Love, Veggies), and decided to give it a go because astrology is a fascinating esoteric study area (I am a Scorpio, btw). Each of the twelve zodiac signs has its own core personality description, and the headings below roughly reflect these descriptions. For example, the Libra sign is associated with balance in life, and, therefore, below is a request to name a book that is neither good nor bad (an equilibrium between good and bad is reached), and the sign of Leo is associated with power, pride and bravery, and, thus, there is a request below to name courageous characters in a book. As usual, I am not tagging anyone in particular, and everyone is welcome to participate. 

Como Agua Para Chocolate Book CoverI. ARIES – Name a book you’ve read that was full of fire, desire, and passion aries

Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) by Laura Esquivel 

When I think about boundless passion in books, this book by Mexican author Laura Esquivel just pops into my head instantly. Pedro and Tita’s forbidden love in this story is electrifying, and this story is about cooking and delicious food, too (Mexican recipes are included). 

hotel du lac book coverII. TAURAS – Name a book that was beautifully-written 

tauras icon Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner 

I recall that this book was beautifully-written (the first sentence alone left me almost breathless). Unlike some others, I think this book is a worthy winner of the Man Booker Prize, and I also enjoyed reading Brookner’s insights into each of the characters in her story.

The Separation PriestIII. GEMINI – Name a book that you’ve read that featured twins 

Gemini IconThe Separation by Christopher Priest 

This book is about a pair of identical male twins – one of them ends up to be a RAF pilot during the WWII and another a conscientious objector who works for the Red Cross. How their destinies evolve as they fall in love with the same Jewish woman is the focus of the story. Priest’s books are always thought-provoking, and I enjoy his play with the theme of identity confusion. However, I do not always like how Priest executes his big ideas on paper, and, in The Separation, I did not enjoy all the digressions and found the main characters’ motivations in the story very puzzling.

Tess of the D'UrbervillesIV. CANCER – Name a book you read that was a real tear-jerker 

the crab iconTess of the DUrbervilles by Thomas Hardy 

I talked about one real tear-jerker already – Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, so I thought I would mention Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles – not because it is especially a tear-jerker, but because the main heroine’s plight there is very sad and, thus, the story comes off as rather emotional. Beautifully-written, plotted and characterised, Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of my many five-star classic reads.

news of the world coverV. LEO – Name a book that you’ve read that features courageous characters 

Leo star signNews of the World by Paulette Jiles 

I will not forget the bravery of the characters in News of the World, a National Book Award Finalist. Though elderly and removed from daily fighting, Captain Kidd shows a lot of bravery in trying to save one small girl from a horrible plight. He and Johanna make a team which is hard to forget, being so courageous as a unit. Hats off to Paulette Jiles for making her novel so heart-warming and enjoyable to read.

Anna Karenina Book CoverVI. VIRGO – A book that is pure perfection 

virgo signAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

This book is pure perfection. Full stop. I cannot put into words the brilliance of this book. Is it the greatest novel ever written? Yes, I think it is. Anna Karenina, Alexei Vronsky, Nikolai Levin, Kitty Shcherbatskaya…many memorable characters and a very powerful love story. 

Disturbing the Peace Book CoverVII. LIBRA – Name a book that you read that was neither good nor bad 

libra signDisturbing the Peace by Richard Yates

Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road is my favourite book of all time and I consider it a masterpiece. However, I was largely indifferent to this book of his – Disturbing the Peace (I honestly lost interest half way through the book), though I still enjoyed (somewhat) the prose, and Yates’ ideas. Disturbing the Peace tells of John C. Wilder, whose life starts spinning out of control as his interest in family life plummets, and his interest in alcohol and other women grows. 

Sulphuric Acid1.docxVIII. SCORPIO – Name a book you read that was dark or mysterious 

scorpio iconSulphuric Acid by Amelie Nothomb 

Sulphuric Acid may be short, but it is very dark because the novella deals with a horrifying dystopian future where people gather around in their living rooms to watch one disturbing programme – Concentration. This programme recreates a Nazi-style concentration camp (but with all the cameras watching) and uses real people as participants. Amelie Nothomb is a new author for me, and I cannot wait to read her other books.

The Architect's ApprenticeIX. SAGITTARIUS – Name a book that you read that was full of adventure

Sagittarius iconThe Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

This book by Elif Shafak (also the author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World (2019)) is certainly full of adventure. Set in medieval Istanbul (the Ottoman Empire), the story tells of Jahan, a carer of his white elephant Chota, who arrives to serve under the Sultan at the palace and becomes an apprentice to the head architect (Sinan). It was an interesting read, but I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would (for example, I found the characters caricaturish and I thought the book attempted too much). The plot was too episodic for me, too, and I found it strangely derivative. The novel has a great atmosphere, but it also reminded me of Aladdin, One Thousand and One Nights (a story within a story), and especially of the book The Sea Cathedral by Ildefonso Falcones (an unattainable love interest and the construction of a religious building being some of many similar themes).

Paradoxes The Nine Enigmas in PhysicsX. CAPRICORN – Name a book that you read that made you think 

Capricorn IconParadox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

Of course, a non-fiction book will be under this heading because I love to read “brainy” non-fiction once in awhile. I am fascinated by paradoxes, and this book made me think hard about some of the greatest mysteries in physics. My only complaint is that I thought the book was too simply written – those who have very little understanding of physics will enjoy it, but I also thought the author did not fully explain certain concepts. My favourite chapter is the one on “Schrodinger’s Cat”.

The Mezzanine Book CoverXI. AQUARIUS – Name a book that you’ve read that was quirky 

aquarius iconThe Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker

This book is the definition of quirkiness, and I do not think I have ever read something as unusual as the plot in this one. The narrative of this debut novel focuses on one man’s mind while that man is on his lunch break at work. For example, the man thinks about his shoelaces, his suit, a book that he currently reads, and about things that he has just bought from a supermarket. This is an original story (or rather a non-story) and may prove satisfying for those who do not mind many digressions in their books and an excessive use of footnotes. This book is about everyday existence when we focus all our attention on mundane happenings around us and on everyday objects.

The Islanders Book CoverXII. PISCES – Name a book that you read that was very imaginative 

Pisces Book CoverThe Islanders by Christopher Priest 

This was my third book by Christopher Priest and I found it very imaginative, even if I did not fully connect with the story or appreciated fully its travelogue nature. It reminded me of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, because the story here is all about a person making topographic descriptions of islands on one strange planet (while we also get to know a bit about particular inhabitants of these islands, their way of life and their actions).

20 thoughts on “The Astrology Book Tag

  1. I remember reading Anna Karenina in school and really enjouing it, but you know how it is with assigned reading 😀 even if I liked the book, I’d never fully enjoy it because I HAD to read it. So I think I will re-read it at some point and see what my older self thinks about it now.

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    1. I tend to feel the same way about assigned reading. I think I left Russia permanently before my school assigned me to read it so I never read it as required reading in school. I read it actually in English for the first time and only then in Russian. It was love at first line and page for me 🙂

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  2. I’m not a huge fan of the zodiac thing (mostly because people take it way too seriously when it’s a bunch of vague terms). However, this tag looks really fun. The Architect’s Apprentice looks especially good, and I’ve never heard of it before!

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    1. I have an unpopular opinion on “The Architect’s Apprentice”. I liked the setting – medieval Istanbul – and the novel started very well, with a mystery. But then it was frustrating read for me because the author just threw everything in her narrative, plagues, forbidden love, desire for revenge, a war and so forth, without one plot line. It was too much and various events were described in a cursory way.

      I think Shafak herself is very interesting. She is British/Turkish and her latest book “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World” is now shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019. I wonder how that will go too.

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  3. Great tag and an interesting selection of books. I’ve watched Anna Karenina on television, but based on your comment (pure perfection!!) I might give it a try. After reading A Gentleman in Moscow, I am keen to read more literature with a Russian setting. I am not into astrology, but your chosen book for my zodiac sign (capricorn) is actually spot on!

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    1. Thanks! Of course, you cannot compare reading Anna Karenina in the original language, but I can honestly say most translations are very good. I hope you like it. I have not seen any TV series of the book – I have seen the film of 2012 by Joe Wright and did not like. It did not capture even a fraction of the novel’s brilliance. I am really curious to see the film of 1948 with Vivien Leigh as Karenina, though.

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  4. Love this tag, and may do it too! I haven’t read that Ekif Shafak but I fell in love with her new one – the characters became like personal friends to me. I have my fingers crossed it will win the Booker.

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    1. I would love to know your answers to these questions! I expected something more than what I found in Shafak’s “The Architect’s Apprentice”. For me, the book was like a compilation of events leading to nowhere, and every paragraph is written in a manner that makes you want to skip it and other pages. I was disappointed.

      I want Shafak to win the Booker Prize, too, but she has quite a competition in the Booker Prize shortlist, doesn’t she? I mean, we have a book there which is almost made up of one long sentence and another which is inspired by Don Quixote. Originality is certainly what they all have in common. Good luck to Shafak. I am sure I will love her newest book much more than her “The Architect’s Apprentice”.

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  5. Oh wow, I love this. YES to Tess and Anna Karenina. I have several of Nothomb’s first books, really good. And sounds like her latest in French is good too (Soif). I need to have a look at The Islanders, I have never read this author (!), but any reference to Calvino will do

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    1. Thanks! I have heard of Soif and that it is good, but I still need to check it out more closely, too. Christopher Priest produces very thought-provoking books – and all of them portray interesting psychological situations. He is probably best known as the author of a book behind Christopher Nolan’s movie “The Prestige” with Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson, if you have seen this one.

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