A “fascinating” (The Wall Street Journal), “spirited and inspiring” (Jacobin) tour through the ages in search of the thinkers and communities that have dared to reimagine how we might better live our daily lives.
In the 6th century BCE, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras—a man remembered today more for his theorem about right-angled triangles than for his progressive politics—founded a commune in a seaside village in what’s now southern Italy. The men and women there shared their property, lived as equals, and dedicated themselves to the study of mathematics and the mysteries of the universe.
Ever since, humans have been dreaming up better ways to organize how we live together, pool our resources, raise our children, and determine who’s part of our families. Some of these experiments burned brightly for only a brief while, but others carry on today: from the Danish cohousing communities that share chores and deepen neighborly bonds, to matriarchal Colombian ecovillages where residents grow their own food; and from Connecticut, where new laws make it easier for extra “alloparents” to help raise children not their own, to China where planned microdistricts ensure everything a busy household might need is nearby.
One of those startlingly rare books that upends what you think is possible, Everyday Utopia provides a “powerful reminder that dreaming of better worlds is not just some fantastical project, but also a political one” (Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad). This “must-read” (Thomas Piketty, New York Times bestselling author of A Brief History of Equality) offers a radically hopeful vision for how to build more contented and connected societies, alongside a practical guide to what we all can do in the meantime to live the good life each and every day.
About the Author
Kristen R. Ghodsee is a professor and chair of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the critically acclaimed author of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence, which has been translated into fifteen languages. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among other outlets, and she’s appeared on PBS NewsHour and France 24 as well as on dozens of podcasts, including NPR’s Throughline, Vox’s The Gray Area, and TheEzra Klein Show. She lives outside Philadelphia.
“My god, this book is what I need right now! Exhilarating, good humored, and forward looking, it’s blown open my brain. What a powerful reminder that dreaming of better worlds is not just some fantastical project, but also a very serious political one.” —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad
“Utopia is back! And it ought to be taken seriously, as history is made by the dreamers. If you want to open up new futures for our private lives, please have a look at this refreshing book. A must-read.” —Thomas Piketty, New York Times bestselling author of A Brief History of Equality
“More could be possible than we imagine—that’s the liberating and inspirational message of Kristen Ghodsee’s sweeping feminist history of society at its most creative. What a gift she’s given us with this mind-broadening investigation into how for millennia our fellow human beings have reckoned with the toughest questions of fidelity, family, and love.” —Ada Calhoun, New York Times bestselling author of Why We Can't Sleep
“A fascinating read.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Spirited and inspiring.” —Jacobin
“Refreshingly optimistic and accessible.” —The Nation
“Kristen Ghodsee has boldly gone where few would dare to tread. In this warm, intelligent, and lucid book, she takes us on a deep dive into how people have created better systems for living—systems that actually work. With clear-eyed views of how utopian communities can promote human thriving, she offers hope in a time when we desperately need new ways of imagining the future.” —Robert Waldinger,New York Times bestselling author of The Good Life and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development
“Scholarly and deeply personal.” —Inside Higher Ed
“Invigorating writing for a cheerless era. Having explained to us Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, Kristen Ghodsee is back with another splendid insight: utopia can, and ought to, be an everyday thing, in every home.” —Yanis Varoufakis,former Greek Minister of Financeand author of Talking to My Daughter About the Economy
“This book is about something I love reading about, which is communes and various experiments in communal living. And [Ghodsee is] ranging all the way from way back the Neolithic period to modern eco villages to communes and religious experiments you might have heard about in the 19th and 20th centuries.” —Ezra Klein, "The Ezra Klein Show"