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
"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)
This is yet another great book by Bryson. If you are expecting a side splitting, laugh a minute book that he has done in the past, you are likely to be disappointed. This book is not as funny as many of his other books and I think this is a reflection of his being more British now than before. The comedic energy in the book is palpable but in that British humor way. It is more cerebral and involves more word play than imagery. I personally liked this book a great deal. Frankly, the idea that a book about your house and the stuff in it could be entertaining was hard for me to conceive. The book had a ton of interesting information and it was delivered in a non-dry, lively way. Honestly, I think Bill Bryson could make the Yellow Pages a fun read. I am sure this is not for everyone but for me it was a balance of interesting information, witty delivery, and that gentle and familiar voice that made this a “home” run for me.
actually i'd have someone other than Bill read it. He's soft spoken so gets hard to listen to in the car where i listen to my audiobooks. He makes me sleepy!
i've loved reading BB ever since i discovered A Walk in the Woods about 15 yrs ago. This is the first audible i've had by him though and was surprised by his voice, its not what i imagined. I'll always get BB books but not sure i want him to read it. Maybe one of the other ones would be better to have him read to me, like one of his travel related collections. I stop and start this one, i have to be in the mood for it.
Havent encountered too many people yet, not sure if there will be many. Must be I guess if this question was posed. Looking forward to meeting them!
Im only in the first few chapters. This question piques my curiosity of what might be ahead though to inspire me!
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
Wow! We live in a great time. There were no, "good old days" . I thank god we did not live in the days of old, with all of the terrible things people took for granted back then. Read this book and you will be 79% happier about your life today than you were before you listened to it. Trust me!
I enjoyed the book and the information but I did not always see how the information related to the room that Bill was discussing.
Yes, if they like mostly British history.
I made me thankful I live in the 21st century.
not my favorite, but some interesting information here. enjoyable - not the best, but worth the read. I think Bryson does a great job narrating his own books.
First off the content of the book was very engaging. It started really well, became a little convoluted for a brief period then the story became more and more engaging. If you liked a short history of nearly everything (which I think was also Bryson?) you will probably like this. I liked the parts of the story more when we was explaining things that had little to do with the old rectory and more to do with the history of stuff.
Now the narration was another matter. It took me a long time to be able to deal with Bryson as a narrator. I suspect that he did not enjoy reading the book. He seemed as though he was trying to rush through the book as fast as possible (maybe to get started on his next book). There are also some chapters where he sounds mildly intoxicated. Many of the consonants become jumbled as he rambles through. It wasnt an awful reading, I have heard worse, and the material was engaging, its just as though he was in a hurry to get it over with.
For anybody interested in the history of the things (that you didnt know there was a history for) this book is great. If you are picky about narration you may want to get the hard copy.
After reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything," I was elated when I heard that Bill Bryson had written a new book. While I think that it has its own merits, and intrigue, I didn't connect with this book as much. It read more like the b-side of "A Short History.." it just wasn't as strong. I think that it may be that because "A Short History.." was written with a clear chronology of discovery over time, whereas "At Home" was written based on the structure of Bryson's home. By nature, the structure is more subjective, and felt more like a potpourri of factoids than the magnificent tome of knowledge that A Short History is. All in all, it has some great information, but I just didn't enjoy the structure as much.
Having read a few other Bill Bryson books, I was expecting a bit more entertainment than this book provided. Bryson and his family live in a rectory in England that was built in the mid-1800s. In the book he uses the rooms of rectory as jumping off points to discuss the history of personal family dwellings to some extent, but winds up on long, often rambling histories of Victorian England for the most part. For example the nursery leads to a discussion of child rearing in general and how Victorians treated their children in particular. The bathroom eventually lead to discussion of cholera epidemics. The kitchen somehow leads to locust plagues which struck midwestern USA in the 1870s. Much of the book is interesting, but it sometimes gets a bit too loose for my taste. Add to that the fact that the book is read by Bill Bryson, who isn't all that exciting as a reader, and the book comes up as just average in my opinion.
I don't think so
The book was specific to England.
I was intrigued with the premise of the book but was disappointed with the result. While reading I was often reminded of the way drunk old men tell stories. I think a more suitable title would have been (A RANDOM AND RAMBLING HISTORY OF ENGLAND)
A very good listen. Wonderful historical and personal insights, and Bill Bryson tells the story wonderfully. Perhaps not quite as inspired as "A Short History of Nearly Everything," but very worthwhile.
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