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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

4.3 (3577 )
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  •  
    BRADLEY MONTICELLO, GA, United States 01-04-13
    BRADLEY MONTICELLO, GA, United States 01-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "well done"
    Would you consider the audio edition of At Home to be better than the print version?

    Yes. Most of the fun is listening to Bill Bryson. He really makes me laugh - I know its supposed to be a history lesson.


    Any additional comments?

    Good for family listening. You can jump in at any part and not be lost like a typical story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abel Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-28-12
    Abel Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-28-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Great listen!"
    If you could sum up At Home in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating, smart, enjoyable


    What did you like best about this story?

    Bryson narrating his own great writing.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Stairs, kitchen, wallpaper. Much more interesting than one would imagine. Really.


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

    "Be prepared for a lot of Ken Burns Effect!"


    Any additional comments?

    Enjoyable repeat listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn McDowell Salem, OR USA 11-23-12
    Dawn McDowell Salem, OR USA 11-23-12
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    "Disappointing for a longtime Bryson fan"

    I've read many of Bryson's books and enjoyed them all - A Walk in the Woods, The Lost Continent, Notes from a Small Island, the one about his trip to Australia, and the one about his move back to the U.S. after 20 years living in England (I don't remember the titles of the last two). In those books he was observant and informative and also very funny.

    I have a feeling I would have done better with At Home if I had been able to read it instead of listen to it. I didn't like Bryson's reading style, and I think he's one of those authors who should not read their own books. Also, I found myself drifting off and daydreaming during many extensive passages describing rich and powerful people and how they spent their vast sums of money. Much more interesting were the descriptions of regular people's lives in their homes and just how difficult those lives could be in the years before the modern comforts we all take for granted became available to the majority of us.

    Basically, this book was really inconsistent, with Bryson holding my attention, then losing it, and back and forth, all the way through. All of his previous books I've read I would have given at least 4 stars and maybe 5, but this one's only a 3.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-06-12
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    "Bill's At It Again!"
    If you could sum up At Home in three words, what would they be?

    History lessons continue.


    Any additional comments?

    Once, again, Bryson manages to make history lessons humorous. I enjoy his books quite a bit and listen/read over and over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick VISTA, CA, United States 11-05-12
    Patrick VISTA, CA, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2015

    @pball001 - Twitter

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    "An Enlightening Book - History You Never Expected!"

    Bill Bryson is my favorite author hands down. He weaves history with facts, wit, and most of all the unexpected. You will laugh, cringe, and marvel throughout - guaranteed.

    As the author and narrator he is able to bring life to the book like no other. At Home is an eye opener, it really makes you stop and think about what surrounds you today in your own home.

    Get it, you will not be disappointed!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Enumclaw, WA, United States 10-21-12
    Stephen Enumclaw, WA, United States 10-21-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Bryson does his usual good job"

    If you enjoyed James Burke's "Connections" you will enjoy this book. Bryson walks through his 19th century English house outlining the purpose of each room and the history of how the type of room was used in the past. Along the way, he connects related historical conditions and events into a unique and fascinating web. For instance, at one point he takes us from the house in England to the technical problems of building the Erie Canal in New York State.

    Bryson does an excellent job of reading his own work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Canada 10-19-12
    Dr Canada 10-19-12 Member Since 2012
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    "A mind-opening delight."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A plethora of unknown wonders underlies our everyday existence. Bill Bryson lays it all out in a very entertaining and intellectually stimulating way.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned a great deal about things I thought I knew.


    Have you listened to any of Bill Bryson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I enjoyed his Brief History of Nearly Everything. This work did not disappoint.


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

    I was only sorry when it was over.


    Any additional comments?

    Buy it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alicia Nashville, TN, United States 09-18-12
    Alicia Nashville, TN, United States 09-18-12
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    "Things I didn't know I didn't know"
    Would you listen to At Home again? Why?

    It is definitely informative although I expected more from Bill Bryson. It was awfully dry. I had to switch to other books back and forth to prevent from falling asleep on my ride. I don't think I could handle it again, though being non-fiction, I don't usually listen or read those books more than once.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    More of Bryson's humor!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynne 09-17-12
    Lynne 09-17-12
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    "Brilliant! I love him. Great listen."
    What did you love best about At Home?

    Hard to say, the humor, the facts, the way he ties different areas of life together


    What other book might you compare At Home to and why?

    One of my favorite all time books is Bill Bryson's A brief History of Nearly Everything.


    Any additional comments?

    I JUST LOVE IT! No more can be said.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johanna Turner Mayfield, KY 08-06-12
    Johanna Turner Mayfield, KY 08-06-12 Member Since 2013

    CPA, CFP, and serial audiophile.

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    "You'll never look at the world the same again"
    If you could sum up At Home in three words, what would they be?

    enlightening, fascinating, absorbing


    What did you like best about this story?

    The "real" stories about everyday things we take for granted (tea, for example) and how they came to be was extended to far away places and tied up in a big, fascinating package.


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His reading his own book in an authentic (but easily understood) British accent made the book that much more entertaining.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    The only part I could have left out was the last 5 minutes on global warming. Otherwise, I learned more from this book than I have from many others - and it was a very fun trip.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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