What even is astrology? Here are the best astrology books to explore this ever-popular system of meaning.
These reads are stellar
There’s a reason we say something’s “written in the stars.” Astrology is an ancient system of philosophy and wisdom that’s also a super popular cultural phenomenon. You probably know your sun sign, and maybe you know a little about the zodiac. Zodiac signs often correspond to things like colors you like most, the kinds of people you feel most drawn to, or the books you like to read. But where do these meanings come from? Astrology is so enjoyable, and even seductive, because it describes and gives insights into what it means to be human. It’s a vast topic with intensive layers and techniques—it also has a history that goes back thousands of years. Astrology books can help you broach the topic in a way that might just feel effortless.
We asked professional astrologer Chris Brennan, the host of the popular The Astrology Podcast and author of Hellenistic Astrology, for his recommendations on the best astrology books. We also spoke with professional astrologer djenneba drammeh (whose naming convention is lowercase), who is co-editor of the forthcoming astrology anthology Mercury’s Brood. With their help, we put together a list of the best books for every level of interest in astrology from complete beginners to seasoned pros. If you’re brand new to astrology, we have great suggestions for easy-to-grasp intros to the topic. You can start with understanding the basic components of your full natal chart and then move into more advanced topics. You might find, like so many do, that once you dive into the stars, you’re hooked and want to know more. In that case, we have the best astrology books to give you a sense of the vast history of astrology, the different types and uses of astrology, and the various ways you can read your own birth chart and beyond.
If you love books, read on for the best astrology books for a solid foundation on the topic. While you’re at it, here are some of best books of all time, best self-help books, best nonfiction books, and best books by female authors for bibliophiles, history hounds, and those who love reading and learning. If that’s you, astrology might just be your next obsession.
Beginner books for the astro-curious
1. Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life by Carole Taylor
An illustrated overview of astrology
This is Brennan’s favorite astrology book to recommend to beginners. He describes it as a “brilliant, comprehensive intro-to-astrology book that’s extremely well-illustrated.” If you’re just getting interested in astrology, this is a non-intimidating book that’s user-friendly and fun to read. This is one of the best astrology books for beginners because of its accessible infographics that make complicated topics easy to grasp. This inviting introduction will give you the tools to understand astrology as a language and it eases you into putting those tools to use. Brennan also likes it because it gives a manageable overview of what he calls a fourfold system that includes the planets, the zodiac signs, their aspects, and the 12 houses. If you want to know more, here’s an overview of zodiac elements and how they relate to your sign.
2. You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance by Chani Nicholas
Introduction to your “big three:” your sun, moon, and rising sign
Brennan recommends this recently released best seller because it focuses on a crucial part of the natal chart: the sun, moon, and rising sign. The book organizes around these “big three” placements as “keys” to understanding your birth or natal chart as a whole. Brennan finds this book speaks to “this emerging realization in the public consciousness that astrology is more than just one sign or one zodiac sign, [but] actually consists of a number of different planetary placements.” Author Chani Nicholas also has an astrology app, CHANI, that calculates your birth chart and offers daily guidance.
3. The Astrology Journal: A Celestial Guide to Recording your Cosmic Journey by Mecca Woods
Tracking astrology in your daily life
Once you learn the basics of your natal chart, one of the next steps is considering how astrology works in action. Astrologer Mecca Woods gives a brief overview of astrological tools and components in this zodiac signs book that’s also for record-keeping. The bulk of this book is a journal where you can record daily events. Each day has a two-page spread that makes it easy to record the astrological “weather”: things like the lunar cycle, retrogrades, or other events. You can also jot down what’s happened in your life and how you’re feeling that day. The format leads you to reflect upon how these details connect to larger transits. It’s a great way for beginners to start a daily practice that helps to notice patterns and to test-drive astrology as a meaning-making phenomenon.
Intermediate books when you’ve got the basics down
4. On the Heavenly Spheres: A Treatise on Traditional Astrology by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro
An introduction to traditional astrology
Brennan describes this book as a longtime favorite to recommend because it offers a comprehensive overview of what’s known as traditional, or Western, astrology. Brennan advises that though it’s an intro, he finds it at an intermediate level because it focuses on much more complicated and in-depth topics such as different types of astrology like horary (casting charts to answer questions), mundane (looking at broad cultural events), and electional (finding specific auspicious times in the future). You’ll find this to be one of the best astrology books for a vast, comprehensive overview that provides history, as well as info on specialized topics, with fantastic visual illustrations. Brennan advises you’ll get “a much broader scope of the full technical apparatus of astrology that is outside of just birth charts.” Astrologer djenneba drammeh describes this book as practical, with great descriptions of planetary meanings that you can easily apply to your daily life.
5. Astrology and the Authentic Self: Integrating Traditional and Modern Astrology to Uncover the Essence of the Birth Chart by Demetra George
An accessible synthesis of traditional and modern astrology
This is a great book to read once you’re hungry for more knowledge. Brennan finds this book “truly successful in taking some of the ancient concepts and fusing them with the modern concepts in a way that’s compelling and ma[kes] sense both conceptually as well as practically.” Demetra George is a major figure in the larger astrological discipline. She has a background as a translator of ancient astrology texts and her work gives an accessible overview that’s great for readers who want to study these topics. George has what Brennan describes as a natural gift for teaching and a knack for imparting wisdom.
6. Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: A Manual of Traditional Techniques, Volume 1: Assessing Planetary Condition by Demetra George
A book to solidify your foundation in astrology
Ancient Astrology strikes drammeh as a great companion book to Astrology and the Authentic Self and a true intermediate text in that it builds on and adds to a foundation. “It gets into the nitty-gritty specifics of how things work and why they work,” drammeh says. Though it includes mathematical and scientific content, it has a way of making complex aspects of astrology digestible and straightforward. Don’t be intimidated if this sounds hard—George’s work is perfect for you if you have a longing to understand more.
7. Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living by Robert Hand
A great reference to quickly interpret chart placements
“This is an astrologer’s holy grail,” says drammeh, “but it’s also a reference text.” They describe this as a great source to have at your fingertips: “Planets in Transit breaks down every single possible transit in short digestible blurbs.” It’s the perfect text to reach for if you have a question about, for instance, what it means if your moon is in the 11th house. This is a book that gives you an easy way to understand the meanings of specific aspects of your chart in a way that grounds you and prevents overwhelm. You’ll find it concise and straightforward. It also includes info on both the modern (Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune) and traditional planets.
8. Post-Colonial Astrology : Reading the Planets through Capital, Power, and Labor by Alice Sparkly Kat
A richer understanding of the planets’ meanings
In this book, astrologer Alice Sparkly Kat examines the “etymologies,” the larger historical and cultural meanings, of the traditional planets in Western history. Sparkly Kat asks in the introduction how to make astrology more responsible, and their book offers a way to critique or think differently about the seemingly universally accepted meanings. The book offers a strategy that is queer and inclusive as it considers astrology’s connection to politics and power. Sparkly Kat sees astrology as a way to offer healing and community, but to do so, its history and influence have to be understood so it can be discarded when necessary. This is one of the best astrology books for a deep dive into planetary meaning. Read it to really get to know the two luminaries, the sun and moon, and the traditional planets: Saturn, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury.
Advanced books when you’re ready for more
9. Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas
A philosophy of astrology as a legitimate phenomenon
“Cosmos and Psyche is perfectly fine as a beginner astrologer text,” says drammeh, who finds this book to be a beautiful text that’s “also very heady and philosophical.” Read this for an overview of how planetary archetypes play out on the global stage. Brennan describes this book as a pitch for “astrology as a legitimate phenomenon.” It’s for both an academic and general audience and it demonstrates the ways astrological concepts both correspond to and help describe broad cultural events across history. Keep in mind it’s pretty thick—around 500 pages of rich, philosophical wonder. Richard Tarnas’ work influenced what’s now known as “archetypal” astrology and you can find a related website, Archetypal Explorer, that’s kind of like horoscope books in that it has an interactive interface for daily understanding of your own chart and the larger world’s.
10. Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune by Chris Brennan
A foundational introduction to ancient texts and techniques
“Hellenistic Astrology was my personal introductory text,” says drammeh about this nearly 700-page masterwork that’s an essential read for advanced astrologers and anyone else with a passion for the topic. drammeh recommends jumping around in this book and “not being overwhelmed by the overall page count.” The book is dense and intense, but you can still get into it as an advanced beginner if you have the basics down. Brennan learned Greek to translate ancient astrology works at Project Hindsight which was an inspiration for this work that took ten years to write. Before Hellenistic Astrology, there wasn’t a comprehensive primer on ancient astrology. Translating those ancient texts was so important because they contained techniques such as whole sign houses, the concept of sect, and timing techniques such as profections and zodiacal releasing. These ancient concepts are fascinating and gaining in popularity. Give this one a try if you want to know astrology’s vast history and how to put these techniques into practice.
Books for pros and avid enthusiasts
11. A History of Horoscopic Astrology by James Herschel Holden
An essential masterwork in the discipline
Brennan calls this his favorite book on the history of astrology. He describes it as a masterwork that gives “an overview of the past three or four thousand years of Western astrology in a relatively concise 350 pages.” You’ll find short biographies of the major astrologers throughout history. And since Holden was a scholar who knew multiple languages, he could read ancient texts in their original forms. This astrology tome includes detailed footnotes and two indexes for aficionados looking to expand their knowledge.
12. The American Ephemeris 1950-2050 at Noon by Neil F. Michelsen and Rique Pottenger
Tables of planetary movements
Brennan advises that this is one of those astrology books that should be on the shelves of serious astrologers and enthusiasts. It’s basically a book of tables that show the planetary positions on any given day across 100 years. While you can access the planetary transits with apps or astrology software, Brennan offers that there’s something valuable in holding an ephemeris in your hands. Modern software allows you to skip the calculations that most past astrologers had to master. Get this book if you want to go “old school” and have an overview of the planet’s positions that you can see all at once. You can also find an episode called “How to Read an Ephemeris” on The Astrology Podcast that explains how to read these tables. This can be both fun and compelling if you’re interested in astrological timing and applying it to your everyday life.