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

So I loved "Chinese Power Animals," which melds Chinese and Western astrologies to create a single set of archetypes. You can figure out whether you're a Cat, a Sheep or a Rooster, what this has to do with your rising signs, what meaning it has based on which month you're born in and at what time of day--in short, hours of narcissistic fun. The system is a little complicated, but somehow that just makes it all the more satisfying. Great for people looking for a simple heuristic to tell them who they "really" are--and an interesting exercise in multiculturalism for anyone.

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