Celebrating Life Customs around the World: From Baby Showers to Funerals. By Victoria Williams. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 3 vols. Acid-free $294 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3658-9). E-book available (978-1-4408-3659-6), call for pricing.

Victoria Williams is a freelance writer and editor with a PhD focused on European fairy tales and folklore. She has edited a variety of ABC-CLIO reference works on folklore-related topics, ranging from sports and games to human sacrifice. Celebrating Life Customs around the World: From Baby Showers to Funerals is the most recent of Williams’ works. The three-volume set consists of more than three hundred entries on rituals and customs related to specific life stages. The entries in this set are organized first by life stage, then alphabetically. The first volume focuses on birth and childhood, the second on adolescence and early adulthood, and the third on aging and death. Each entry ends with internal cross-references and further reading and includes inset color photographs, selected bibliography, and comprehensive index.

The introduction of the set states that it is primarily aimed at researchers but is jargon-free to be accessible to the general reader. However, it is questionable as an authoritative source for use by upper division undergraduates and beyond as not all of the entries use academically accurate and uncontested sources.

Where Williams excels is that the entries in this set are incredibly readable for an academic work. Because of its readability, it is a good primer or introduction to various topics for further study. The broad geographic areas covered in this work are impressive. Furthermore, Williams tackles subjects that might be uncomfortable for Western readers, such as endocannibalism, with tact and cultural relativism.

Celebrating Life Customs around the World: From Baby Showers to Funerals is a good introduction to various topics for community college or lower division undergraduates. This set would be a useful addition to a reference collection that is lacking introductory materials on anthropology, human geography, or folklore.—Chloe E. Bragg, Technical Services Librarian, Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio


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