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  • Writer's picturePeggy O'Donnell

What Makes a Reader?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Young woman with book in hammock

Jonathan Franzen, in his book, How to be Alone, published an essay (also known as The Harper's Essay) on what makes a reader. By a reader here I am referring to a life-long lover of literature. He posits that the first type of reader is a person who grew up with reading serious books highly modeled by one or both parents. However, there is a second type of reader, and this person is a social isolate as a child, who from an early age felt different from those around him or her. Thus the characters in books became their community.

Astrology has something to contribute here as well. It is my premise that air signs, or those with an air sign predominant (Libra, Aquarius or Gemini) are the most prolific readers. This makes sense if you think of the element air as *world of archetypal ideas behind the veil of the physical world, the cosmic energy actualized into specific patterns of thought.* (Arroyo, Astrology, Psychology & the Four Elements) Of these three air signs, Gemini is most inclined toward reading. It does not have to be the sun sign, just strongly placed Gemini. Gemini is ruled by Mercury, which is communication, so Virgos are also inclined to be good readers.

I count myself as a life long lover of literature. My chart has lots of Libra, an air sign, but also Jupiter in Gemini in the 9th house (learning) in mutual reception with Mercury in Sagittarius. Jupiter is also the only planet on the western side of my chart.

The Oxford Astrologer, Christina Rodenbeck is incredibly well read. A Pisces, she has Moon conjunct Jupiter in Gemini. Her wonderful web site always features great quotes from literature.

My friend Daphne, who once referred to her twenties as her great reading decade, has an angular Mercury conjunct the Descendant in Gemini, and Uranus angular in Gemini as well. Leslie, who I met in London, and who is now in my book club, has Sun in Gemini in the12th house, Gemini rise, and Venus in Gemini on the Ascendant.

Kathryn, another great reader, and a great wit (perhaps the female with the quickest wit I have ever met) has Sun in Gemini in the 12th, Gemini rise, and Mercury in Gemini on the Ascendant. Mercury is in exact semi-sextile to her Jupiter, and also conjunct Mars.

The parent who modeled great reading was my father, a Taurus with a Mercury Mars conjunct in Gemini right on the Descendant.

C.E.O. Carter, in his book on psychological astrology, notes that ability for literature (he is talking writers) arises from a strong Mercury and Gemini influence.

I think a strong 12th house influence may also contribute to being a good reader. It is a great way to spend alone time, and those with 12th house planets need their down time. I would also suggest that a strong 9th house, which rules foreign travel, is also prominent, as reading can take you many places. Anne Tyler would agree. My friend Beth, who carries a pocket Shakespeare wherever she goes, has Jupiter in Gemini in the 12th. As Arroyo also notes, whatever sign Jupiter is in has a large influence on your chart. Beth also has an angular Mercury in the 10th house. I would like to note that most of the readers mentioned herein are lawyers, and lawyers do love the language.

If you want some recommendations on what to read, see my book blog.

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