It’s November 22nd, which means until December 21st, it’s Sagittarius season. Sagittarius is one of the most adventurous signs in the zodiac, with freedom and exploration as its highest priorities. While this trait can present itself as open-mindedness, passion, and energy, it can also act up as restlessness, recklessness, and way more honesty than anybody asked for. Just in time for the season, here are the best picks from Sag authors across different genres.
Top pick: The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson (December 2, 1951)
Bill Bryson is one of the world’s foremost travel writers—probably because he’s funny as all hell. Adventurous from an early age, American-born Bryson dropped out of college halfway through in order to backpack across Europe. (What a Sagittarius move.) While in the U.K., Bryson decided to never leave. He returned to the United States for two years, with the sole purpose of finishing that degree. While there, he wrote The Lost Continent, the hilariously moving tale of either a country that has lost its way or an individual who has lost his connection to it. It’s also about road trips. The book opens: I came from Des Moines. Somebody had to.
Top pick: Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944)
A passionate activist, Rita Mae Brown embodies the Sagittarius traits of both passion and restlessness. After facing expulsion from the University of Florida for protesting its racial segregation, Brown hitchhiked to NYC to attend more tolerant NYU—despite her intermittent homelessness. She was involved in LGBT+ groups during this time, but left the male-centric scene to found a lesbian feminist collective in Washington D.C. Her novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, is a 1973 lesbian bildungsroman—one of the earliest examples of lesbian literary fiction. (Yes, ‘rubyfruit jungle’ is slang for what you think it is.)
Top pick: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (born December 14, 1916)
In her own lifetime, Shirley Jackson didn’t receive the accolades she deserved. As a woman and genre-fiction writer, there was a distinct lack of serious literary interest in her work—critics called her “Virginia Werewoolf.” Despite her obvious talent, Jackson lived a troubled life (something talent never seems to exempt anyone from.) Her mother was flighty, hyper-focused on Jackson’s weight and feminine image. Jackson’s husband was unfaithful and controlling, seizing authority over family finances despite the reality of Jackson out-earning him. The uneasy dichotomy between 1950s housewifery and supernatural evil explores the restrictions of American-dream era sexism—and the desire for freedom from it. Hill House is “less a home than a panic attack,” and Jackson depicts the psychological disarray of domestic restlessness in one of the greatest ghost stories ever written.
Top pick: The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders (born December 2, 1958)
When talking Sagittarius, satire deserves its place-it is, after all, a genre marked by its cutting honesty. George Saunders (2017 Booker Prize winner) writes with satirical wit across his body of work, his collection In Persuasion Nation offering biting commentary on corporations and consumerism with a sci-fi twist. Saunders, as it turns out, may be as adventurous as his prose. During his graduate studies, he married his wife three weeks after meeting her—”a Syracuse Creative Writing record,” Saunders imagines. They’re still married. His satire reaches new heights in novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, a parable concerning abstract shapes vying for dominance over a country big enough for only one of them to stand in.
Top pick: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (born December 12, 1821)
Gustave Flaubert is a literary master who began writing at the young age of eleven. Politically, he identified as “enraged,” and what a mood that is. When asked why he would never have children, he replied that he would “transmit to no one the aggravations and the disgrace of existence.” Ok, extra. He had bisexual affairs across the continents. Fans know Flaubert for his perfectionistic and painstaking style, as he would sometimes sequester himself for weeks to find the perfect words. Madame Bovary protagonist Emma is bored and dissatisfied with her provincial life, and decides to explore her dream life of luxury and sordid passion. It’s a book, so you can imagine this doesn’t go as planned. Perfect for showing the dark side of the Sagittarius mental landscape, its realistic focus on superficiality and restlessness are worth a read.
Top Pick: “My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun” bY eMILY diCKINSON (born december 10, 1830)
Emily Dickinson‘s experiments with form have made her one of the most renowned poets of all time. Critics comment on freedom in Dickinson’s style: “while [the structural choices] liberated the individual, it as readily left him ungrounded.” Despite her recluse persona, Dickinson actually longed for independence—not necessarily solitude. She wrote in a letter to her friend: “God keep me away from what they call households.” Dickinson was also a cheeky, rebellious child. In Catholic school, the nuns asked students to stand up if they wanted to become their greatest Christian self. Dickinson remained seated—a power move and a declaration of Sag honesty if there ever was one. Readers can purchase The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson for a full collection of her work.
Other Sagittarius authors of note include: Narnia writer CS Lewis (November 29, 1898), satirist Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667), femme-fatale journalist Joan Didion (December 5, 1934), and classic Jane Austen (December 16, 1775).
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