In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, J.K. Rowling has a new (grown-up and decidedly un-magical) book out this week—Casual Vacancy. And as a big fan of both Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling's elegant prose, I couldn't help but take a look. Especially because I'd like to see how an author like J.K. Rowling names people in the non-magical realm, where a name like Nymphadora or Draco would be a little less likely to fly.

Cool Name of the Week: Louisa 28210

And lo and behold, there are some intriguing names thus far (eight chapters in), mixed in amongst the blander Barrys and Howards. And my favorite, so far, is Gaia—the teenage girl who's become an obsession for one of the upper-crust teen boys, Andrew. As you see her through two different characters' eyes—through Andrew's adoring sideways glances, and the disdainful view of Gavin, the boyfriend of her mother—you get every glorious wave of her hair described, or you get the sense that she's an angry banshee of a teen who is (literally) out for blood.

Gaia is a Greek name for the goddess of the earth—which explains why it's become popular among the environmentally inclined. And surprisingly, only one actor has used it for her daughter—Emma Thompson. Gaia would make a great alternative if you love uberpopular names like Mia, Layla and Maya—and don't want your daughter to be the third one in her class.

With a name like Gaia, I'd like to keep with the environmental tone with the middle name, and choose a name like Lark, Fleur or Spring. If you have a short surname, you could even go with a longer middle name, like Persephone or Daphne.

Would you pick Gaia for a girl? And if you're reading Casual Vacancy, what do you think so far?

Photo: Pregnant woman via Ronald Summers/