*** Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century by Jeanne Arnold et al.

Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century: 32 Families Open their Doors is a wonderful, with many more pictures than words, that aims to explore how American families live — or at least the 32 families of the book, all from suburban Southern California.

This is no airbrushed Martha Stewart alternate world. No, we see the laundry piles (several feet high, in a shower stall, which is apparently unavailable for other pursuits); incredibly messy garages (no surprise if I judge by the glimpses I get while walking around my neighborhood) but also barely usable home offices, overtaken by clutter; and heart-warming views of kitchen tables, used, apparently, all the time and for everything and anything.

If you need a respite from shelter magazines, this is it, as well as proof of the excesses of consumerism.

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