At Home: A Short History of Private Life

At Home A Short History of Private Life With his signature wit charm and seemingly limitless knowledge Bill Bryson takes us on a room by room tour through his own house using each room as a jumping off point into the vast history of the

  • Title: At Home: A Short History of Private Life
  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • ISBN: 9780767919395
  • Page: 143
  • Format: Paperback
  • With his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room by room tour through his own house, using each room as a jumping off point into the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up iWith his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room by room tour through his own house, using each room as a jumping off point into the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in the paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

    One thought on “At Home: A Short History of Private Life”

    1. I came across a review that dismissed Bill Bryson's work as being entertaining fact collection that doesn't present anything new. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, if not the implication. There is nothing wrong with entertaining fact collection, and, in my mind, everything right with it. In this age of information overload, the kind of clear-minded research and fact-sorting he performs for his readers is manna sent from communication heaven. The ability (and the willingness) to collect, [...]

    2. The things that were a thing back in the day boggles my mindEven though sugar was very expensive, people consumed it till their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn't turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealthy and marvelously self-indulgent they were.Bill Bryson goes from room to room in an ordinary house and asks questions. Questions that have never (and will never) think to ask. Why do we have four walls? How did doorways get invented? When did people sta [...]

    3. If Bill Bryson and Sarah Vowell wrote all the history texts, and Mary Roach wrote all the science texts, our society would be more educated and amused than anywhere on earth. I want to say that this book was a greatly informative text on the history of sanitation, architecture, anglo-saxon culture, farming, growth of cities, and society in general, but I'm afraid that would put you off. This is the story of his house in England. He takes us through each room discussing the history, scientific br [...]

    4. Let me preface this review by saying that, yes, I am a fan of Bill Bryson and I love history books.At Home is not Bryson's best work. Its loosely-organized premise (a room-by-room history of everyday life and everyday objects) feels overly-contrived and, in practice, makes for a rather clumsy and wandering book. I could only put up with a very little bit at a time. It took me a month to finish.Nevertheless, I'm glad I read it. There are sundry interesting factoids to be had here, and you'll be a [...]

    5. This is a very hard book to categorize. Ostensibly, it's a description of the author's home in England, but that really doesn't cover it. All I could think of as I was reading it was a great conversation. If we went to his home - an English parsonage built in 1851 - for dinner we would, of course, talk about the house, but like all really great conversation the talk would ramble off in every direction with stories that had nothing to do with this particular house or houses in general for that ma [...]

    6. I have a brain crush on Bill Bryson. I find his books entertaining, insightful and delightfully humorous. "At Home" did not disappoint, giving a fascinating, rambling, Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink view of world history.The book is structured into chapters based on the different parts of a house, such as the kitchen, the drawing room, the cellar, the bedroom, etc. In the introduction, Bryson explains that he and his wife moved into a former church rectory in a village in eastern England, and s [...]

    7. Bryson brings us another fascinating tome filled with delightful trivia and anecdotes in this history of housing in Britain. The “hall” as we know it today is a place to leave the muddy boots and hang coats. Originally, it *was* the whole house. With an open hearth in the middle and members of the family (this included slaves and servants since the one large room made everyone party of the unit) congregating around it, little was private and everyone shared in the heat (or lack thereof.) The [...]

    8. Well that wasn't very "at home" at all, quite frankly! But hey, it was still good!In At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson, that transient American-Brit, is in England for this look at the house, that thing humans use to keep the rain off their heads. If you've ever gone out for a drive you've probably seen one. Using the house he bought in the Norfolk area of England (northeast of London), Bryson takes us for a lengthy and meandering tour of each room of the standard home from th [...]

    9. "If you had to summarise it in one sentence, the history of domestic life is the history of getting comfortable slowly."Whew Ladies and gentlemen, I have spent an exhausting yet exhilarating ten days with Bill Bryson at his Norfolk home. When he invited me to take a look at this former Church of England rectory, I hardly expected spend more than an afternoon there - a spot of tea, maybe a couple of beers in the evening, along with the promised tour of the house. But I got much more than I bargai [...]

    10. There are quite a few people I know and respect that don’t really like Bill Bryson. I’ve never quite understood why not. I’m actually very fond of his writing and from this distance I even tend to think he has the perfect life. I mean, you would think that the word dilettante (or perhaps autodidact) had been created just for him. Wouldn’t you love to have the time to think to yourself, ‘gosh, I wonder how houses first came to be as they are’ – and then to spend, I don’t know, a y [...]

    11. A fun and mind expanding tour of Anglo-American cultural history structured loosely around the rooms of his Victorian rector’s house in village in Norfolk, England. If you have experienced the pleasures of some of his travel books, you will recognize his method of using an experience in the present as a launching pad for circles of digression down many fascinating paths before returning with amazing insights into the curious behaviors and marvelous accomplishments of human creativity. It all s [...]

    12. Reading this book is rather like having a trivia buff give you a sixteen-hour, cocaine-fueled tour of his house. It is exhilarating, exhausting, and often alarming.

    13. Bill Bryson's curiosity is boundless, and he loves research. He seems to have a particular fondness for digging up bizarre, creepy, and freaky tidbits to share with his readers. If you don't mind skimming over the dull parts, At Home is worth reading for all the trivia and historical weirdness Bryson shares. The book is essentially a history of domestic life in Britain and America--its comforts and discomforts, and the inventions along the way that made things easier and cleaner. I found both th [...]

    14. “It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.” ― Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private LifeBryson uses his own family's Victorian parsonage to map out the history (mainly focused on the 18th - 20th Century) of the private life. His discussion of specific rooms ends up allowing Bryson to tangent off onto related topics as wide and varied as sex, family, shit, medicine, architecture, makeup, rope-ma [...]

    15. Tremendously interesting history book for people with ADD and butterfly minds. It's as if someone had taken an encyclopedia and very cleverly joined all the entries so it looked like a proper book. Oh, it was a proper book! Well then, very clever.

    16. This book has lots of interesting factoids but these are buried under many pages-long avalanches of words about "unfairly neglected" minor personages of history. It sort of delivers on the promise of telling us something about the home we live in and what's inside it, but the cost of that information is a ton of tangential trivia I found extremely boring. Others surely find all the meandering anecdotes entertaining and that's fine, but then the book should be titled something like "shooting the [...]

    17. For Bill Bryson, this is poor: What could have a fascinating, amusing and insightful social history turns out to be a meandering series of not very interesting or particularly entertaining passages on the vague subject of the 'home' and 'private life'. The whole book unfortunately just feels poorly edited, unfocussed and directionless.As a fan of Bill Bryson's books, this one came as a somewhat of a disappointment. Having now read his subsequent books - it is good to know that he is once again ( [...]

    18. Read by His Nibs himself.Description: “Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a [...]

    19. It took me a while to warm up to this one. All the other Bill Bryson books I've read have been about, wellBill Bryson. HIS trip to Australia - In a Sunburned Country, HIS hike on the Appalachian Trail - A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, HIS childhood in Iowa - The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. This book seemed mostly like a list of facts.Then around chapter five, The Scullery and Larder, while I was learning about servants and the running of massive es [...]

    20. I really love Bill Brysonentertaining, enlightening, and an all around good read. I'm now driving my wife crazy by bringing up little "tid-bit" facts that I learned from this book. Full review shortly but I wanted to at least move this off my "reading" to the "done" state.

    21. I read this book against my better judgement, and indeed my judgement was right. Having read A Walk in the Woods by the same author, my daughter's mother-in-law, though I was quite open about not liking it, thought I'd like this one.And I do like this kind of book that wanders around history making unexpected connections and has little asides of coincidence. But I find Bryson to be arrogant and patronizing. Clearly an Anglophile he speaks with disdain of other nationalities. If you don't believe [...]

    22. Ooh, yes please. This is juuust the kind of thing I like. It reminds me of trying to organize a closet, where one thing leads to something else, and something else, and something else until you find yourself in the middle of re-installing a light fixture and you look over and the closet is in a mess all over the flooryway where was I?Yeah, anyway, it's actually much better organized than I make it sound, and somehow manages to be organized chronologically AND spatially AND at the same time charm [...]

    23. When Bill Bryson moved into an old rectory in the English countryside, he became curious about the various features of his house and how they came into being. In At Home, he traces the development of human domestic living from its often unexpected origins to the taken-for-granted, gadget-filled dwellings we now live in.This is my first book of Bryson's, but I will definitely be reading more. He has a clear, engaging style that has a way of making everything he talks about deeply interesting. Whi [...]

    24. This was awesome. Absolutely awesome. For anyone with even a passing interest in history, interior design, sociology, anthropology, cultural evolutionis is an absolute must. Took a while to get through, but so worth it. In fact, this is the first book I ever took notes for, it was simply too dense, too resplendent with facts and information.ough notably unlike a textbook. Writing wise this is Bryson at his best, witty, funny, erudite, droll, expansive. Not a grumpy old man so much as an intellig [...]

    25. This is pretty fascinating and I generally like Bill Bryson, but the book is heavily concentrated on the fascinating discoveries/inventions/accomplishments of men. Women are only mentioned for the silly things they did as the wives of these men or for writing silly books Bryson describes as "unreadable then and probably unreadable now." Apparently in all his exhaustive research on the history of private life, Bryson found no significant contributions by women.

    26. This is a very informative book about everyday furnishings in and around people's homes and how they evolved over the centuries. Bryson mentions that one huge English mansion had a room devoted entirely to cleaning bedpans.

    27. Whenever I'm asked about my favorite authors, Bill Bryson always makes the list. Not only has he written a string of humorous yet informative travel narratives, he's also penned a memoir about his 1950s childhood and a variety of non-fiction books on topics as diverse as the English language, Shakespeare and a rather grand attempt at a book called A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson is able to make whatever he is writing about amazingly interesting while also being gently humorous. I've [...]

    28. 3 stars - It was good.Instead of reading this one from cover to cover, I think it would have been a more enjoyable experience if read one chapter at a time, intermittently, while reading other books. It was a bit more dry and straight forward than A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, but Bryson still made it light and funny with his delightfully witty sense of humor.-------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: Columbus's real achievement was managing [...]

    29. The book is well written and I enjoyed it, but it's a little disjointed and the subtitle is misleading. It's not about the history of private life, of how people lived, but a history of the materials that make up the house and the general way certain society in general viewed varying aspects of domesticity. Very little of the idea of private life (how the concept started, flourished and became what it is today) is touched upon. Still, this is a good book with interesting historical details and I [...]

    30. شادمهر راستین در یادداشتی که پشت جلد کتاب برای تاریخچه خصوصی خانه نوشته است آن را با دنیای سوفی مقایسه کرده، گرچه که این استدلال پر بیراه نیست و این کتاب به دنبال بررسی تاریخچه فضاهای خانه و چرایی شکل گیری آنها است اما به نظرآن انسجام و پیوستگی دنیای سوفی را ندارد . به عنوان یک [...]

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