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At Home Audiobook

At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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Publisher's Summary

From one of the most beloved authors of our time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone - a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

“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 history of the world without leaving home.”

The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

©2010 Bill Bryson (P)2010 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"There are many guilty pleasures, from Bryson's droll prose - "What really turned the Victorians to bathing, however, was the realization that it could be gloriously punishing" - to the many tantalizing glimpses behind closed doors at aristocratic English country houses. In demonstrating how everything we take for granted, from comfortable furniture to smoke-free air, went from unimaginable luxury to humdrum routine, Bryson shows us how odd and improbable our own lives really are." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 08-04-13
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2016

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

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    "Or, a short history of nearly everything"

    This was a fascinating book and for whatever reason, not at all what I expected. As Bryson meandered through is old rectory home he provided extensive and mildly amusing information that has brought that room into the current day. I now know why we say "room and board," the controversy over who created the telephone and how Alexander Graham Bell contributed to President Garfield's death. A better subtitle for the book might be "a short history of nearly everything without leaving home." Well done, Mr. Bryson!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ronald Clarksville, TN, United States 05-26-13
    Ronald Clarksville, TN, United States 05-26-13
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    "Exactly what I love about Bryson's works"
    Would you consider the audio edition of At Home to be better than the print version?

    I'm not certain. The audio book was wonderful, but this might be something I would want to pick up and read sections of later. I'm a bit torn. I do know that I'll listen to it again.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of At Home?

    Actually it was at the beginning when he was describing the construction of the Crystal Palace in the Hyde Park. What an amazing feat! He really gets you into the story and the history of the people involved.


    What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

    This was the first time I'd heard him read. I had often wondered what he would sound like given his US/UK existence. He's got a pleasant voice and a nearly unique accent.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The bit about child labor at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I had known of it, but I really didn't understand how horrible it was.


    Any additional comments?

    If you're ever wondering what to read. Bill Bryson is always a good choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Macedon, NY, United States 04-05-13
    Jennifer Macedon, NY, United States 04-05-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Incredibly interesting, excellent presentation"
    Would you listen to At Home again? Why?

    Yes, so filled with interesting tidbits that I'm sure I would hear more the more I listen.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh at lot though there were moments were I cringed (rats and bedbugs, eeek!!!)!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JBH 04-05-13
    JBH 04-05-13
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    "Finally, a GOOD BOOK!!!"
    Would you listen to At Home again? Why?

    I would listen to this again because there are a lot of interesting facts to take absorb.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the topic and how the past affects the future.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I liked every part of the book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    not sure


    Any additional comments?

    The author does a great job as the narrator!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Nelson Marietta, GA, United States 03-27-13
    Dave Nelson Marietta, GA, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A good listen"

    At Home is a wonderful collection of trivia about the objects in and around our home and our homes themselves. It does not delve into the type of details that A Short History of Nearly Everything does, but includes a lot of interesting Tidbits.

    I don’t have much else to say about the book, I found it interesting and a good listen but it did not wow me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    J. Rose United States 03-20-13
    J. Rose United States 03-20-13 Member Since 2013
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    "I Love Bill Bryson"

    I love Bill Bryson, and its such a pleasure to have a title that he also reads himself. Bryson makes the most seemingly mundane things absolutely fascinating. If you liked "A Short History of Nearly Everything", you'll love this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    John Craven Seattle, WA, USA 03-12-13
    John Craven Seattle, WA, USA 03-12-13 Member Since 2012

    book craven

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    "Just. Great. Buy. Now."

    Admittedly, I am a bit of a geek about the Victorian era so this book was kind of right down my alley. It's kind of half "Extraordinary Origins of Ordinary Things" and half "What Jane Austen Ate" (a writer's guide to the 19th century), but jam-packed with humor and insight in the particular way that only Bryson can do. If you like history but are maybe a bit done with the "drum and trumpet" style that concentrates on battles and leaders and ignores ordinary people lucky enough not to get into a battle and unlucky enough not to become a leader, this is a great book for you.

    Another thing: this is narrated by Bryson. I've noticed in some of the reviews of his earlier books (the Appalachian Trail book, for instance) that getting someone else to read was a good idea. Well, maybe he's changed or something. He's not a professional reader or anything but he does just fine if you ask me. He's legitimately excited about the subject matter, knows the bits which are funny and the ones which are more interesting than funny, and doesn't get in the way of the prose.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander Aker Norway 01-16-13
    Alexander Aker Norway 01-16-13 Member Since 2015

    Alex

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    "Highly recommended"
    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson has the ability to make any subject - no matter how dry, seemingly irrelevant or complicated - into compelling, informative and funny prose. He has a pleasant, relaxed voice. The book jumps from subject to subject, historic person to historic person, with a self confident, relaxed grip on what it wants to convey. I finished the book feeling genuinely enlightened and wanting to dwelve deeper into some of the subjects in the book (particularly the reemerging history of architecture)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    janateach Georgia 01-05-13
    janateach Georgia 01-05-13 Member Since 2012

    janateach

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    "Random."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes. I love to hear Bryson read! His tales are funny and relatable. However, I'd warn them that it meanders and meanders along every little path.


    If you’ve listened to books by Bill Bryson before, how does this one compare?

    It's among his best.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The stories of Samuel Pepys. Byrson is hilarious in his descriptions.


    Was At Home worth the listening time?

    Yes! It's a book that can be easily picked up and put down because it does not have a strong narrative arc, so it's length is not so intimidating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl-B 01-04-13
    Carl-B 01-04-13 Member Since 2010
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    "First read, A Short History of Nearly Everything"

    Bill Bryson's style is one of guided exploration into the topic. One of my favorite books of all time was "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and this book pretty much follows that format. The topic is a bit odd, but the guided tour is a both entertaining and enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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