02 April 2011

Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel

I came across this amazing book in 2005 and read it in April of that year. I borrowed it from the library but was so lucky to get my hands on my own copy through www.paperbackswap.com.

This book displays the possessions of typical households from thirty countries around the world. More amazing that that all of their possessions are removed from the homes and displayed outdoors so that one can really get a feel for how they compare! The book was created in honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994. The photographs were taken by sixteen photographers. The photographers for each shoot spent a week living with each family to really learn about their life!  

If you've never seen this book, you must get it!  I actually read the whole thing through and found it fascinating I think many would just look at it as a "coffee table book" but I found it to be phenomenal. I only had one issue with the book and that was the feeling that the typical American household would seem to own more possessions than the one they included in the book. The book was published in 1995 so perhaps it was typical for figures from that year; I just feel that most of the people we know have even more possessions than the American family in the book.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

You come away from the book really thinking about your possessions and why you own them. There are many families less privileged than the typical American family. I also found that there are actually many who are more privileged. Possessions or the lack of them are not nearly as important as the people who make up a family. A home is more than the sum of its parts. That is the real story behind all of the amazing photos and details in this gem of a book.

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