The review engages with three recently published works, which represent a cross-section of different approaches to studying processes related to the material world. The works consider the emergence of global systems of cotton manufacturing and its relationship to capitalism, the growth of tea consumption in Britain and its social, cultural, and economic impacts, and histories of consumption over a broad chronological and geographical span, respectively. Together, they demonstrate that histories of production, trade, consumption, and use are being rethought in light of the new approaches and questions prompted by global history and new histories of capitalism. At the same time, the review argues, the publication of these works suggests that fundamental assumptions about the material world are changing. Under the influence of new materialism, historians are increasingly tackling questions of agency, materiality, and thingness. As a result, alongside studying what objects mean, historians are increasingly asking what things do. The review argues for the need to ensure that such approaches continue to interact with cultural and social concerns in order to form analyses that fully grapple with the complexity of the material world, as it existed in the past.