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Home » Books » Book Reviews » Book Review: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, Elinor Ochs

Book Review: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, Elinor Ochs

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Who knew the refrigerator door could reveal so much about people inside a home? Yet in Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors, it does exactly that.

The images in this book, the first by researchers affiliated with UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF). show refrigerators with amazing amounts of information clinging to them. Those tidbits turn out to be a great indicator of how much clutter and stress will be found in the rest of the house.

The book is the result of CELF sending in a team of archaeologists, anthropologists and other social scientists to study the home lives of middle-class, dual-income families in the Los Angeles, California area.

The photos and information present a look at unused “master suites” that were meant to create spa-like living spaces; clutter, clutter and even more clutter; showers filled with clothing and absolutely no way to clean up in them; walls and walls of collectibles; garages so jam-packed with household items that there is no room for parking cars inside; and lots of evidence of warehouse club shopping habits.

The study gives a glimpse at how material goods have taken over the lives of most middle-class families and how the collection of things defines entire families. Beyond the material heft, the researchers found that mothers living in this type of setting had elevated levels of stress hormones.

Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors is worth reading and looking through the photos. Readers will appreciate how much “stuff” people accumulate and how much isn’t used. There will likely be a moment when you think your space is not suited to how you want to live, and you may find yourself transforming and disposing of the extraneous material things around you.

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About Kathleen Riley-Daniels

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