Everyday Life Everywhere?
January 15, 2013 10:19 AM   Subscribe

What are some good sources - blogs or books - for learning what everyday life is like in different parts of the world?

I'm curious how everyday life is different in different places - different countries, rural vs. urban vs. suburban. What do people eat for breakfast in Uruguay? What's the commute like in Paris? How often do people go to the beach in Seoul?

I'm most interested in pretty current accounts - ideally, the past 20 years - but anything back to, say, the early 1900s would be fine.

Books and blogs are both welcome (as are magazines or news columns I can read online), but things I can read a bit at a time (a few pages a day) would be ideal.

posted by kristi to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats shows families around the world with their groceries for a week and has lots of text/context. Material World shows average people surrounded by all of their possessions.
posted by poodelina at 10:45 AM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Al Jazeera's Faces of China series is excellent, and I believe it can all be watched online.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:30 AM on January 15, 2013

Best answer: It's for kids and a bit outdated now, but Children Just Like Me is excellent.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:39 PM on January 15, 2013

Two bite-size online sources: the guy who runs J-List puts commentary like this about Japan into every mass email about what they have in stock, and subscribers to the New Yorker should have access to all of Janet Flanner's mid-century Letter from Paris columns in the archive.

In book form, I don't know where to begin. Quotidian details are often passed over in ethnography and cultural journalism in favor of a particular topic, but the whole genre of confessional ethnography is full of this stuff, e.g. Return to Laughter, The High Valley, and The Savage and the Innocent to name a few readable examples scattered around the world.

Travel narratives or memoirs/essays mixed with cultural journalism are especially readable sources. Some that leap to mind that all happen to be about India: Snakes and Ladders; The Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God; Chasing the Monsoon; and A Goddess in the Stones.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:11 PM on January 15, 2013

Best answer: Peter Menzel, author of the two books poodelina mentions, also has a good one called Women in the Material World, which expands on Material World specifically related to the daily life of women around the world. I'd definitely recommend any of his books.
posted by Stacey at 5:30 AM on January 16, 2013

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