At Home: A Short History of Private Life Paperback – Oct 4 2011
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"Bryson is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious . . . [his] enthusiasm brightens any dull corner. . . . You'll be given a delightful smattering of information about everything but . . . the kitchen sink."
— The New York Times Book Review
"Bryson's gift for finding amazing facts and fascinating connections between people and events makes this another enjoyable sprawling read through many things you didn't know you wanted to know."
— National Post
—The Moderate Voice
About the Author
BILL BRYSON's books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors. Bryson lives in England with his wife and children.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Did you know that ambergris is an intestinal accretion in sperm whales composed of partially digested squid beaks? I did know that actually, but it wasn't until I read this book that I learned that the substance has a vanilla like taste and Thomas Jefferson enjoyed eating it with eggs. Similarly, until delving into this rich little tome I remained totally ignorant of the unique method used by certain rats at a poultry market in Greenwich Village to steal eggs without breaking them (I won't spoil the book by spilling the secret here, though.)
Sometimes, Mr Bryson's research is a little shaky, indeed I noted one point where he is categorically wrong, but I bought this book for entertainment, not as a research tool for a doctoral thesis. Happily, that is exactly what I got.
This led Bill Bryson to journey around his own home, an old rectory in the UK. As he travelled from room to room, considering how the home developed and how the functions of rooms have evolved over time, his research and reading uncovered some fascinating information. The book is organised by room, and the history behind each room leads us through topics as diverse as architecture, electricity and the telephone, food preservation, the search for and use of spices, epidemics, toilets, crinolines and servants. In surveying his home from cellar to attic, Bill Bryson provides information about the developments and inventions (such as the fireplace) that have enabled mankind to build bigger homes. The house Mr Bryson lives in was built in 1851, and while some aspects of the original design will be familiar to most of us almost 160 years later, the house itself has been adapted for the world of relative comfort enabled by electricity.
I found this book fascinating. Reading about how homes have evolved: consider the hall. Once the hall was the most important part of a home, now it exists as an antechamber- a place for donning, shedding and storing hats and coats. Moving from a communal hall to rooms with separate functions and purposes took time, relative prosperity - and servants.Read more ›
Definitely a fun and relaxing book to read before you go to bed.
Most recent customer reviews
My only problem is that I'm always giving his books away to other ppl bc they're SO good. I always have to get new ones for myself. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Wonderfully entertaining book. Clever and filled with all sort of tidbits of knowledge I never would have dreamed of.Published 5 months ago by Matthew C. Lane
The most beautifully written book, like all Bill Bryson books! I am his very long dedicated reader, I love his style of writing, his science based knowledge which he shares with... Read morePublished 6 months ago by wiebke Haman
Absolutely love this book. So full of interesting information told in such an engaging way. I am now on my second 'listening'. Fascinating.Published 6 months ago by C K STEWART
Fascinant!!! Tellement intéressant et instructif. Et Bill Bryson a un humour qui fait en sorte que ça se lit comme un roman. Read morePublished 17 months ago by cmariebenoit
I love Bill Bryson's friendly writing style. The book is strangely laid out but his writing is so much fun, I really don't care. An excellent read.Published 19 months ago by aluura
I enjoy reading interesting historical facts and how and why they affected the period in which they occurred.
The book is well written and humorous. Read more