Have you ever looked at the placemat in a Chinese restaurant and wonderedwhat all these animals have to do with our familiar Zodiac? I, forexample, am a Virgo, which--it's been drilled into me--means I'mcritical, perfectionistic, and hyper-neat (in other words, a compulsiveneurotic). But I was also born in the Year of the Cat, which is supposedto make me aloof, isolated and insecure (okay, guess I'm just....acompulsive neurotic). Anyway, Chinese astrology is frustrating becauseit's seems so broad: How can everyone born in 1975 be crazy and plaguedby self-doubt, but those in 1976 gregarious leaders?

So I loved "Chinese Power Animals," which melds Chinese and Westernastrologies to create a single set of archetypes. You can figure outwhether you're a Cat, a Sheep or a Rooster, what this has to do with yourrising signs, what meaning it has based on which month you're born in andat what time of day--in short, hours of narcissistic fun. The system isa little complicated, but somehow that just makes it all the moresatisfying. Great for people looking for a simple heuristic to tell themwho they "really" are--and an interesting exercise in multiculturalismfor anyone.

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