Observations of the mundane things in life
October 27, 2010 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for book recommendations for essays that are observations of mundane things in life.

Some books in this genre that I like are: Dear lazyweb, do you know of other good books of the same ilk ?
posted by lahersedor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace.
posted by proj at 6:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I say this as a fan, but you're basically describing Bill Bryson's entire oeuvre.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:31 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seconding Bryson and suggesting Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:36 AM on October 27, 2010

Thoreau, Walden. Chapters include "The Bean-Field", in which Thoreau relates his efforts to cultivate 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) of beans. He plants in June and spends his summer mornings weeding the field with a hoe. He sells most of the crop, and his small profit of $8.71 covers his needs that were not provided by friends and family.
posted by Beardman at 6:37 AM on October 27, 2010

Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine has many Bakery discussions of mundane things.
posted by knile at 6:39 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Came in here to suggest The Mezzanine as well. I wasn't crazy about it, but it's exactly what you're looking for.
posted by alligatorman at 6:40 AM on October 27, 2010

Oranges, John McPhee
posted by gc at 6:41 AM on October 27, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tucson
posted by bardophile at 6:53 AM on October 27, 2010

More John McPhee: Irons in the Fire
David Quammen: Flight of the Iguana and/or Natural Acts
posted by joyride at 7:26 AM on October 27, 2010

Chekhov's essays do this very well.
posted by copperbleu at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2010

David Sedaris.
posted by motsque at 7:43 AM on October 27, 2010

What I've read of Ulysses by James Joyce would definitely fall in the category of detailed descriptions of mundane things. I remember one ten page chapter was solely about this guy using the latrine in the morning.
posted by vlsd at 7:50 AM on October 27, 2010

Letters to Wendy's by Joe Wenderoth
posted by xndr at 8:12 AM on October 27, 2010

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman (actually anything by Klosterman probably qualifies)

Although if you read too closely, there might be some deep themes about perception, reality, and society. But on the surface, it's observations on ABBA, laugh tracks, the wildcat defense, etc.
posted by bluefly at 8:41 AM on October 27, 2010

Settled in the Wild by Susan Hand Shetterly is a collection of observations about her small town in Maine, both the human society and the natural world. Really lovely.

The Hottest Water in Chicago by Gayle Pemberton should be more of a classic than it is. Yes, there are some Big Issues here and there, but the details are so wise and funny and memorable.

Going back a way, let me recommend May Sarton's non-fiction and the collection Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
posted by mattbucher at 8:55 AM on October 27, 2010

Not a book, but a short essay: On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion
posted by amillionbillion at 10:15 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions.
posted by lahersedor at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2010

"A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" by DFW. Also seconding his "Consider the Lobster". Not all his essays are about mundane things, but there is plenty to make it worth your while.
posted by vidur at 5:11 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thirding the DFW essays. It is what got me to love him so much.

Check out Michael Perry. (I'm pretty certain his website is called Sneezing Cow). His books are down to earth, wonderful, and some of my favorite comfort reads. Start with Population 485 and go on from there.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:19 PM on October 27, 2010

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