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Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life From Breakfast to Bedtime by Joe Moran (2007)



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I love quirky books like this, that take simple and relatable ideas and open the reader's eyes to their history and complexity in an accessible and amusing way.

Moran takes us on a gentle journey through a day in the life of an average modern human, picking out sixteen mundane and overlooked elements to explore. 'Bacon and eggs to go', for example, takes breakfast from its rich beginnings, through the preference for cereals and toast during the meat rationing of the war, to today's rushed coffee and the rise of the cereal bar. Moran then proceeds to explore the daily rituals of commuting, office gossip, lunchtime errands, checking emails, the rushed sandwich eaten at the office desk, cigarette breaks, post-work drinks, ready meals and watching the evening weather (amongst other things) before finally signing off with a history of the bed and attitudes towards sleep and the bedroom, and a gentle reminder to look around us and recognise our daily routines as a part of our collective social consciousness.

All in all this is a good idea done well. Generally Moran traces his social history in each section back as far as World War II, though he doesn't shy away from placing our habits in their extended historical contexts where relevant. This proves to be a good strategy as it narrows down the focus of the book to a manageable level without leaving it feeling incomplete. It is the kind of book that has the potential to be heavy, serious and deadly dull - but Moran manages to combine thorough research and a questing mind with a lightness and humour, and a knowledge of modern popular culture, that makes it interesting, compelling and accessible from beginning to end. Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote elliepotten | Sep 7, 2008 |
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We spend our days emailing, shopping, queuing, lying on sofas - but we know almost nothing about these everyday activities. Exploring these subjects as they occur in a typical day, Joe Moran shows that they have all kinds of hidden histories and meanings.… (more)

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