17/08/2008

Book Review: The Goddess Guide

This book is beautiful. The cover is gorgeous, flocked velvet, which is really nice to stroke. It has a ribbon bookmark. If you buy this, I recommend the hardback version as half the fun would be lost in paperback, and it would also deteriorate faster. The best thing about this book is the way it looks, every page inside is a collage of wallpaper scraps, fabric, drawings, different typefaces, and photographs. It's aesthetically outstanding, very "arty".

The content of the book is less exciting. The Goddess Guide aims to teach you how to be a modern goddess and is split into sections governed by the various goddess types: style, beauty, travel, home, garden, food, having fun, joie de vivre, pillow talk, and g-spots.

Personally I am finding the goddess theme, one that pops up in beauty and style guides again and again, to be more than a little tired. I think it really wore out the moment Gillette announced that you can "reveal the goddess in you" by shaving your legs with their Venus razor. Nevertheless, I resisted the temptation to put the book down after reading about Gisele Scanlon's different goddess types, stroked the cover, and continued on.

The first three sections are the most substantial, and after those the rest seem disappointingly small. I found myself coming up with ideas for things that should have been covered in the later sections of this book, which was great for me because I can blog them later, but not so great for my impression of the book.

The worst part about this book is that it is for the most part, a shopping guide. A shopping guide published in 2006, so I can guarantee at least some of the info is out of date. It's a shopping guide for those with plenty of money. Globetrotters. There is also lots of name-dropping - if you hate that, avoid this. The book features products and corresponding interviews from minorly famous fashion people (MFFP), but Scanlon gushes over them adoringly, and forgets to ask them much that's interesting, so their pages look like elegantly designed sales pitches. The book is very much focused on its author, I'd describe it as an autobiographical shopping guide. There is a LOT of info on her orthodontic work! The Goddess Guide is pretty much a case of style over substance, basically a shopping guide with occasional anecdotes thrown in to make it more personal, but not enough to make it really charming and to have you willing to buy into the author's taste.

However, it is nowhere near as bad as How To Walk In High Heels, which remains the worst anything guide I have ever read. In short - it is not patronising, does not presume its readers are in any way incapable, does not contain bad attempts at humour, and it is well targeted to its audience - those with cash to splash. It has good international sections recurring throughout the book, and would be a great shopping guide if you have the money for the stuff Ms Scanlon talks about. The anecdotes are cute, my favourite being the one entitled 'Carousel'. It features some good advice on hoisery, coats, and tipping, and if you're into seeing snippets of the lives of MFFP, the short interviews will keep you interested in the book. It's also pretty global - there is a very slight UK bias, but Scanlon clearly travels all the time and this reflects that. If you never travel this book will not have as much value for you as it would for someone who does or is going to visit the cities Scanlon shops in.

The Goddess Guide is not worth buying if you want a book for yourself and you read this blog. Not that my blog is comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination, but if you read this you probably read a couple of dozen other fashion blogs as well, in which case, apart from the aesthetics, this book with be a disappointment in comparison to what you get online for free. All the advice it gives is available elsewhere if you want it and more detailed and regularly updated shopping infomation for various destinations can be found online. E.g. Gala's Guide To Melbourne, Gala's Guide To NYC, and Gilda's Guide To Tokyo...those are just the ones I could remember off the top of my head and searched the respective sites for!

I would recommend this most strongly to anyone who wants Sarah Michelle Gellar's teeth. Scanlon bought 'em, and goes into great detail about the procedures and prices involved in having her teeth transformed to SMG standards. If you need a gift for a conventionally girly friend with money to spend who doesn't read fashion blogs and travels to the big international cities a lot, this would be a good choice as the travel parts are the best. Anyone who really likes anecdotes mixed in with their shopping guides should pick this up, and if you want a pretty coffee table book, this would be a nice choice if you're not picky about substantial, useful content. If you collect interviews with Miss Piggy and/or Kermit the Frog, this book is also for you.

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