Chinese Zodiac Book Recommendations

Chinese New Year begins Saturday, January 25, 2020. There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals used to represent years, and 2020 is the Year of the Rat. These zodiac signs are believed by some to determine a person's fortune for the coming year, marriage compatibility, career fit, and more. The Chinese zodiac cycle repeats every 12 years, making it easy to figure out which one applies to your birth year.

The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first. (from chinesenewyear.net)

Looking for a new read for the Year of the Rat? Check out one of these recommended fiction reads that go with your Chinese Zodiac sign!

Book summaries are from the publishers.

Year of the Rat 鼠 (shǔ): 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Strengths: wise, unique, and artistic
Weaknesses: ruthlessness and nervousness

The Curiosities by Susan Gloss
Nell Parker is married with a doctorate in art history. She's reeling from the tragic loss of the one baby she and her husband Josh managed to conceive. Nell is pushing for testing and fertility treatments they can't afford, so Josh urges her to apply for jobs, believing she needs something else to focus on. She scores a position as the new Mansion Hill Artists' Colony director where eccentric artist personalities reign. One of the artists is Odin, a young metal sculpture who keeps the other residents awake at night with extravagant (and loud) projects. Despite all the drama, Nell finds something like family among the members of the creative community, and, when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, she must decide what will bring her greater joy - the inspiring art world she's created, or, her fragile marriage.


Year of the Ox 牛 (niú): 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Strengths: observant, determined, and loyal
Weaknesses: stubborn and egotistical

The Parisian, Or, Al-Barisi by Isabella Hammad
A dreamer and a romantic, Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. In 1914, he leaves to study medicine in France and falls in love. But when he returns to Nablus, he discovers it under British rule, and the entire region is erupting in nationalist fervor. Now Midhat must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community. Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East, this book explores questions of power, identity, enduring love, and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present. 


Year of the Tiger 虎 (hǔ): 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Strengths: adventurous, unconventional, and enthusiastic
Weaknesses: aggressive and short-tempered

White Peak by Ronan Frost
After investing in millions chasing miracle cures, Greg Rask, a dying tech billionaire, gathers a team willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find one. The task is to retrieve a painting that is believed to hide a map, which, if genuine, marks the spot of the infamous Ahnenerbe treasure. The Ahnenerbe, an occult wing of Germany's SS, devoted dozens of expeditions in search of three mysterious stones with healing properties and they lie in the mythical kingdom of Shambhala. But a brotherhood sworn to protect ancient secrets will stop at nothing to ensure that Rask's crew will fail.


Year of the Rabbit 兔 (tù): 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Strengths: even-tempered, gentle, faithful, and compassionate
Weaknesses: pessimistic and finicky

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner, and a cat named Phil. But when the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind a plethora of half-brothers and half-sisters, she is HORRIFIED. They all live close by and are ecstatic to finally meet her - which means she'll have to speak...to strangers. And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute and funny. It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction.


Year of the Dragon 龙 (lóng): 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Strengths: courageous, direct, and charismatic
Weaknesses: inflexible and brash

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar
Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It's why she asked her father to teach her back home in Texas. It's why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii. Her determination doesn't even have time for romantic involvements, like one with Lieutenant James Hart. Then one fateful day in December, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly nowhere feels safe. Audrey joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots program and forms a bond with her fellow pilots in the face of war. When James goes missing in action, Audrey uses her every ounce of her courage to cross the frontline and not only fight for her country but for the love she holds dear.


Year of the Snake 蛇 (shé): 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Strengths: enigmatic, sympathetic, and mesmerizing
Weaknesses: hedonistic and materialistic

Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
Dr. Deen Datta is a dealer of rare books and used to a quiet life spent indoors. But as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he sets out on an extraordinary journey that takes him from India to LA through a tangled route of memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. It is a journey that will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood, and about the world around him.


Year of the Horse 马 (mǎ): 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Strengths: easygoing, witty, and honest
Weaknesses: impatient and impulsive 

The Substitution Order by Martin Clark
Kevin Moore was once a high-flying Virginia attorney but has now hit rock-bottom after a tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world's saddest sandwich shop. He's determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening "invitation" to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.


The Year of the Goat 羊 (yang): 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Strengths: romantic, charming, and compassionate
Weaknesses: disorganized and gullible 

The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem
Lelia Abid is looking for a Bollywood romance, where real love happens before marriage - not the other way around. But to her traditional Indian parents, finding a husband is as easy as "match, meet, marry." The neighbors are talking and now Lelia is wondering if her expectations are set too high. After a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates, (and, of course, ambush dates from her parents) the sparks aren't flying. The marriage clock is ticking; she's facing a three-month deadline before her parents arrange a marriage for her!


Year of the Monkey 猴 (hóu): 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Strengths: confident, humorous, exuberant, and popular
Weaknesses: arrogance and dishonesty

The Birthday Girl by Melissa De la Cruz
Ellie de Florent-Stinson appears to have everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished college-age step-daughter; three lovely young children, including a pair of twin boys; lush homes in LA, Park City, and Palm Springs; and a thriving career as a popular fashion designer for casual women's wear. Her husband and glamourous circle of friends have planned a grand celebration for her 40th birthday which seems to have some flaws - but this isn't the first birthday celebration that hasn't gone as planned. There's a certain 16th birthday that Ellie has tried hard to forget... but hiding skeletons in your closet doesn't work forever. The glittering facade of her life will crumble at a place where everyone who matters in her life shows up - invited or not.


Year of the Rooster 鸡 (jī): 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Strengths: capable, talented, brave, and self-reliant
Weaknesses: selfish and reckless

Just Watch Me by Jeff Lindsay
Riley Wolfe is a mesmerizing bad guy who is a master thief targeting the wealthy population. He's willing to kill them if they get in the way from stealing their undeserved and unearned valuables. Riley is now aiming for an extraordinary target, a heist that will make heist history: stealing the Crown Jewels of Iran. Yes, the jewels will be worth billions but the true attraction for Riley is he's told it can't be done. Stealing the jewels is impossible with space-age alarm systems and two teams of heavily armed mercenaries. Riley has always liked a challenge...but this one may be more than he can handle. 


Year of the Dog 狗 (gǒu): 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Strengths: likable, sincere, protective, and helpful
Weaknesses: cynical and stubborn

Our New Normal by Colleen Faulkner
Liv Ridgley does a lot for others. She's a stay-at-home mom, a caretaker for her elderly parents, a definate supporter of her husband's budding career, and the savior of her wayward sister. With her son in college and her daughter Hazel a year away from following him, Liv looks to establish her dream job of running a home restoration business. But then she learns Hazel is three months pregnant. Liv and her husband have very different ideas about what to do about it. As the family falls apart, past resentments and pain come with it. After years of putting others first, can she do what's best for herself and everyone else?


Year of the Pig 猪 (zhū): 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Strengths: thoughtful, curious, and noble
Weaknesses: insecure and hot-tempered 

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis
Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother is missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters - the Brontë sisters - learn of the crime. These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril...