We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
At Home: A Short History of Private Life | [Bill Bryson]

At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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.”
Regular Price:$39.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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

4.2 (2912 )
5 star
 (1401)
4 star
 (963)
3 star
 (401)
2 star
 (113)
1 star
 (34)
Overall
4.3 (1603 )
5 star
 (824)
4 star
 (495)
3 star
 (216)
2 star
 (56)
1 star
 (12)
Story
4.3 (1597 )
5 star
 (834)
4 star
 (491)
3 star
 (193)
2 star
 (64)
1 star
 (15)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Pierre Gauthier Montréal 12-01-12
    Pierre Gauthier Montréal 12-01-12 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    29
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining!"
    Any additional comments?

    This work is not so much a history of private life in the UK and the United States as a wide collection of anecdotes on this theme, taken broadly. These touch the 1851 London Exhibition, the construction of Blenheim Palace and the Erie Canal, the working conditions in 19th century mines, the growth of sugar consumption in Victorian Great Britain, etc., etc., etc.

    The narrative is given some framework by being organized around the rooms of the author’s British home. Thus, the kitchen provides the excuse to discuss food matters whereas the nursery leads to a discussion of children. Often, these links are truly thin as when the fuse box is considered a room to introduce the topic of electricity.

    The author does not pose to be a historian and clearly subscribes to the idea that ‘something printed is something true ‘, no matter how implausible. He does not search for alternate sources that may provide nuance ... or contradiction.

    The overall result is a hodgepodge of tidbits that is certainly amusing but not truly worthy of an investment in time and energy.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin United States 01-29-11
    Kevin United States 01-29-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "PASS"

    Listening to this book makes me feel like I'm in a college history class where the professor just rambles on and on for hours without stopping. Some points are interesting but most of the material is off topic and not very captivating. I couldn't make it through all of part 1. This book is a PASS.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek 10-01-12
    Derek 10-01-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bill Bryson at His Finest"
    If you could sum up At Home in three words, what would they be?

    Clever, Interesting, Thoughtful


    What did you like best about this story?

    Bill Bryson has the uncanny ability to turn seemingly mundane and ordinary into the intriguing and exciting.


    What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

    Only Bill Bryson could deliver his thoughts and experiences with this kind of precision and inflection.


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

    Suddenly, you find yourself less familiar At Home.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Brock Birmingham, Al. 10-06-11
    John Brock Birmingham, Al. 10-06-11

    wehapa

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    89
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "booring"

    weak delivery voice; too much detail on subject matter that could be readily and fully explained in a more succinct fashion. Good research however.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer CIBOLO, TX, United States 09-03-11
    Amazon Customer CIBOLO, TX, United States 09-03-11 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointed"

    I love Bill Bryson and I love to hear him narrate his own work. That said, this book is my least favorite of all of his writings. It lacks a lot of the humor and is just plain boring throughout much of the book. The premise does not hold well together. If you want to experience Bryson, read anything except this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    11-25-10
    11-25-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Beware! Your attention may wander!"

    Compendium--I think that's the word. This book is an inventory of facts related or nearly related or, sorry folks, barely related to the theme of "home" that just goes on and on. Maybe it gets better after two hours, but I'll never know, because that's the point at which I quit listening. I started to feel terribly guilty and very ADD because my attention kept wandering. A book that's dense with disparate information just does not make for good listening! Better read this one in print.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Methuen, MA USA 11-23-10
    Kevin Methuen, MA USA 11-23-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "OK . . I guess"

    I have called the king of useless information so the material was right up my alley. I loved reading "A Walk in the Woods" but I think the narrator in my head was better.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harvey Trabuco Canyon, CA, United States 11-21-10
    Harvey Trabuco Canyon, CA, United States 11-21-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Barely Adequate"

    The first half was pretty good, but the second half tended to drift from the home to society. Way too much time was spent describing disease, hygiene and sewage relative to the other topics.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eileen Encino, CA, United States 11-13-10
    Eileen Encino, CA, United States 11-13-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Bryson's narration is annoying."

    Love the writing, love the content, but I always find that authors who read their own work are too "precious" -- they are too much in love with their words. I can tell that he is not British, but he has faux Britishisms in his speech which bug me -- such as the way he prounounces "respiratory." But, the book is great. Much fun to read.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alyssa 08-04-11
    Alyssa 08-04-11 Member Since 2009

    I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    215
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    250
    43
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Needs a fact checker"

    I really enjoy Bill Bryson's books. However, his chapter about the Anglo Saxon migration period was so off it made me wonder if he'd done any more recent reading on the subject than whatever was in his grade school textbook. I understand that early English history might be a specialized taste but I feel like a non-fiction writer needs to do more than Google a subject before writing a long chapter about it. This is a little thing perhaps but it did make me doubt the veracity of everything else he's written and cast a pall over this otherwise enjoyable book.

    Also I'm not sure Bryson's voice is suitable for a project this long. He tends to swallow his words towards the end of sentences. Though I do enjoy how sometimes he sounds like he's trying not to snicker.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 131-140 of 143 results PREVIOUS1131415NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.