Lillian Too,
Easy To Use Feng Shui
(Sterling, 1999)

Lillian Too is considered to be among the world's greatest Feng Shui practitioners. Called the "gentle art of placement," Feng Shui is an Asian system of arranging your possessions in an attempt to affect your life, as well as your home decor. Too has written several books on the subject, and her latest, Easy To Use Feng Shui, is intended to impart her knowledge of the subject in sound-byte sized chunks of information to help any reader realize his or her latent potential.

Easy? Are you nuts? Though I'm a fan of Feng Shui, and have studied it through other books, Easy To Use Feng Shui confused me. It's anything but easy, even when followed from start to finish. Too's tips seem to be highly mathematical, based on a numerological and spiritual system that is more complicated than a third-year calculus class.

For example, Tip #1, "Determining Your Auspicious Corners," seems to go against every book that I've read so far, setting up your bagua, or map, based on a mathematical calculation of your birthdate, rather than the cardinal directions. The subsequent tips use this result, your kua number, to find your good fortune and five ghost directions -- definitions of which are never really given.

I found, through determination to read this whole book, that the rest of it seems to deal alternately with either very basic concepts or extremely convoluted ones -- and neither of them are overly practical. The tips are either extremely specialized, such as Tip #167, "Too Many External Corners" (something that apartment-dwellers would have no control over), or focus on business success rather than balancing the bagua.

Three full chapters focus specifically on business: three is about the office, four is about boosting your career and five is better wealth luck. The other three chapters are roughly one-fourth about the outside of your house, as Too assumes most readers will own their own homes, one-fourth about more business or money luck, and one-fourth overgeneralized things that delve into the realm of the impossible. (Poison Arrows, Hostile Pillars and Devil Men, for instance.)

Are there any positives? I do have to say, the visual styling of Easy To Use Feng Shui is nice to look at. Whoever did the style work on it did a fantastic job. The color photography, although looking a little bit like stock Corbis Images, is clear and bright, and will probably hold your interest longer than the tips themselves.

If you're looking for a book that will introduce you to the concepts behind Feng Shui, this isn't it. If you're living in an apartment or condo and want to learn how to place your furniture for luck, this isn't the book for you.

Critics will likely say that I just don't understand the base of this art -- and maybe I don't. From what I understand there are varied types of Feng Shui, and this may just be of a type that I'm both unfamiliar with and not fond of. For now, this book will collect dust on my shelf, and I'll stick to the more "western" books on the subject.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]
Rambles: 2 March 2002

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