At Home: A Short History of Private Life


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Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote a lot more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - eating, sleeping and merely endeavouring to get more comfortable. And that most of the key discoveries for humankind can be found in the very fabric of the houses in which we live.This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, wandering from room to ...

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Feb 16, 2012

Enjoyed this immensely

I enjoyed reading the book a lot. Bill Bryson asnwers a lot of questions you never knew you had.

Only reason for four stars is that it is a little lightweight in spots and of course, there were maybe a billion other questions that he didn't answer that I wish he had.

I was genuinely sorry when the book was done, as I wanted more.

jeff a

Feb 9, 2012

Bryson's best work - worth RE-reading

Easily the best work this author has ever done. Using the many rooms in his Norfolk home as individual launching points for discussion of how "the home" and the set of affordances in it came to be, Bryson plays a James Burke role in connecting innovation (both social & technological) to individual items most people now take for granted.

In this journey, he relishes promoting unknown or forgotten industrial "heroes" and inventors, describing specifically how they changed the course of material history. It's a pure pleasure, even when he jettisons his model -- as he does when he gets to "The Cellar", pretty much ignoring the room in favour of a totally-engaging discourse on the history of building materials -- a subject to more apt for the cellar than for any other room in a home.

Informative, engaging, fun, useful. If I was stranded on a desert island with only six books to choose to have, this would make the cut.


Nov 3, 2011

Bill Bryson

Gets very boring and disconnected. Not his best book.


Nov 3, 2011


This is one of the best, most enjoyable, entertaining, and informative books I've ever read. Full of fascinating but little-known information presented with grace and humor. Reminds of the old PBS series, Connections, with James Burke.

Win M

Feb 24, 2011

A Must Have

This is a fascinating book; one you'll want to keep for a long time. Bryson's unique humor enlivens the history of why we live the way we do and how the rooms we live in and the things we live with have come to be named. It's one of those books you never want to finish because it's so good.

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