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Publisher's Summary

Here is Bill Bryson’s entertaining and illuminating book about the history of the way we live - complete, unabridged and read by the author.

Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be. Along the way, he researched the history of anything and everything, from architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the spice trade to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets. And he discovered that there is a huge amount of history, interest and excitement - and even a little danger - lurking in the corners of every home.

Where A Short History of Nearly Everything was a sweeping panorama of the world, the universe and everything, At Home peers at private life through a microscope. Bryson applies the same irrepressible curiosity, irresistible wit, stylish prose, and masterful storytelling that made A Short History of Nearly Everything one of the most lauded books of the last decade.

©2010 Bill Bryson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Rachel
  • Fitzroy, Australia
  • 05-22-12

Best use of a credit

I've listened to "a short history of nearly everything" before and I enjoyed "at home" just as much. It's great for listening to in short bursts as each chapter doesn't rely on the previous one, but is explained in such a way that listening for a longer period isn't overwhelming. I can see myself listening to this again as there is no way I will be able to remember all of it after one reading and I think it would be just as enjoyable a second time around. Bill Bryson is a fantastic reader, really drawing you into his superb writing. I couldn't recommend this more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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right up my alley

The trivial nature of this book wad right up my alley. If you like finding out about both the history of words and also where everyday objects came from this is the book for you. I am an unabashed Bryson fan, and he has used one of the techniques which makes him such a good travel writer (weaving 'trivial', but fascinating facts throughout a story) to create this book - it is really good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • Berwick, Australia
  • 04-03-11

Informative

At Home is informative and educational in quirky sort of way, but doesn't deliver on the humour evident in some of Bryson's other works. Well researched, this book explodes the myths of the refined and gentile times of old. Bryson does a good job of narrating the book, although at times seemed lacking in expression, making the narration a little dull. If you've got a desire to learn all sorts of factiods of life in centuries gone by, then you'll probably enjoy At Home.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Glen Iris, VIC, Australia
  • 07-06-10

Beyond bricks and mortar

Hearing Bill read his book is briefly pure pleasure. He threads patterns, beads and narratives in telling story upon story, ancient and modern. How grateful I am to live now, and not then.The only thing I missed was being able to underline and note some of the aspects of private life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 09-05-12

New Speaker Needed acquire within!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Bill Bryson is a terrific writer I have everything he has written to-date, however please use a professional reader on future books. Your voice is far too soft lacking in any emotional impact.

What could Bill Bryson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Find a professional reader!

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bill Bryson?

William Roberts was great narrating The History of Nearly Everything. Grover Gardner is another name that comes to mind.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. The subject matter is too vast and spasmodic.

Any additional comments?

Keep the books coming Bill.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I love this book!

I've listened to this book at least 5 times. Can't recommend it enough. Bill has a very pleasing voice and it's just a very very good book

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  • G
  • 02-01-17

This says optional but it obviously isn't... grrr

I have read a few reviews of other Bill Bryson books where they say that they don't like the fact that he isn't narrating. However, I disagree. I am sorry Mr. Bryson if you're reading this as I love your work but I can't handle the narration due to the accent. Don't get me wrong, you'll love the book anyway but I'd have preferred another narrator. This book is great and well worth a credit so buy it.

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  • Toshi
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 07-13-16

A delight to repeat listen

A delightful book with curiosities to cherish. Search on Google for the light bulb dress.

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  • Martie
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • 06-08-16

Fascinating!

Bryson has a way of telling his story like you're chatting over a glass of red wine. All the facts are really interesting and you get a great variety of different pieces of history in one book.

It's not often that you get a writer that can actually read too, so I have to say; well done!
I'm off to find another Bryson book!

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Gooder than good!

And a good thing that house was so big. A book about all the rooms in my house would've been much shorter. Respect!

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  • Stewart Webb
  • 06-06-10

More Fact Pact Bryson

I am a lifelong fan of Bill Bryson. His travel books are legendary. However since he has ceased travelling he now writes books such as this and many previously, basically packed with interesting facts and historical anecdotes.

He uses his house here to take us on a journey to each room, then onward to tell us for instance the story of archaeology or the life of the inventor Alexander Graham Bell or the origin of underwear.. see what I mean random, but it has to be said mostly fun.

My only two gripes (and why I did not give it 5 stars) are firstly it is read by the author. He is not a bad reader, but at times tends to drone, I do wish authors would leave reading there books to the people trained to do so. Many of his older books were read by Kerry Shale, and very good they are to.

Secondly he does have a tendency to repeat some items from his earlier books, not sure if this intentional or not, but it is a bit annoying, if like me, you have read all his output.

If this is your first foray into Bryson, I should start with an earlier book, but that is not to say this is a bad book by ant means, but he has done much better.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-23-10

A fascinating journey

Bill Bryson is a great writer and this is a spell-binding book, but I must agree with Stewart that this would have been very much easier on the ear if read by a professional. Mr Bryson's reading is hurried and his diction nasal and it would have put me off completely if the content hadn't been so wonderful. I kept thinking 'if only Stephen Fry were reading this'. On balance, though, the depth of research and Bryson's wit and compassion compensate.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • 08-26-10

Interesting Book

This book is an interesting look at our houses and how the things inside it came to be. It may not be everyone's taste but I enjoyed it. If you have a curious mind about history this book is for you.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Denise
  • 11-05-10

Excellent

A history book with a difference. A truly enthralling read, taking you on a trip through the history of 'home' plus a whole lot more thrown in for good measure. Loved it and would of happily read another 10 chapters. Brilliant Bryson as always.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Caro
  • 06-21-10

So enjoyable!

I'm only part-way through listening, but I'm absolutely hooked. I must disagree with a previous reviewer in that I find Bryson's narration much better than the reader of A Short History of Nearly Everything; I love his reading here. Like that book though, this will be one I anticipate returning to re-listen to several times. Wonderful!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-30-10

An absolute thrill...

I must also disagree with the first review. I found the harsh tones of Mr Shale reading '...Nearly Everything' quite annoying and the production meant I was forced to have the volume up louder than I would usually.

Not so with the lovely lilt of Bill Bryson. He bestows such facinating insight into the outwardly mundane subject matter of this book with wit and gentle enthusiasm and it is very difficult to 'put down'.

Highly recommended. If you are reading this, you must be thinking of getting it. My advice? You'll love it.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark H
  • 12-30-13

Quirky and Entertaining snipets of British History

I enjoy most of Bill Bryson's books and this is one of his best. Bryson is an American anglophile who has managed to distil an archetypal British perspective of life into his prose, whilst retaining an outsiders joy in discovering the stories behind many aspects of Britain (that most British simply take for granted). His eloquent, sometimes quaint, use of understated yet colourful language is a delight. In this book, he uses the various rooms of his old house as a device to follow historic threads that interest him. Often, he unearths the antecedents of common terms, or items, or features of the landscape or architecture and sets them into their original context, which is something that anyone could do; but where Bryson excels is in giving his own commentary about why they are so interesting to him. He has a gift of making things interesting and in this case it generally reflects very well on Britain and its history. If you want to hear a miscellany of entertainingly recounted snippets of British history told with subjective verve from someone who loves Britain then buy this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 09-27-10

Outstanding

Bryson does it again weaving a merry path of fact upon fact upon fact as he takes us on a tour around the origins of the home. If you like interesting general and not so general knowledge and are interested in the way we are, where we are from and how we came to develop ideas then you should listen to this. Its like throwing open an encyclopaedia and exploring and researching thread after thread of information. Absorbing!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
  • 06-06-11

Good but not the best Bryson book

I enjoyed this book, although it isn't the best he's written. Its factual, well referenced and interesting. Its also value for money/credit as it is a decent length. I found the narrator a bit annoying and after huffing and puffing about it for a bit I checked who narrated it only to find out it was Bill Bryson himself! Although I normally love it when the author narrates their own book, in this case I have heard his books read better. He does tend to slur his words, get a bit tongue tied in parts and doesn't speak as energetically as I'd hoped for. William Roberts who narrated a Short History of Nearly Everything (another Bryson book) would have been an improvement. Definately worth getting if you're a Bryson fan.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 06-20-10

Very entertaining

Being a massive Bill Bryson fan I was delighted to see this new addition. It did not disappoint and blended meticulous research with witty story telling. As a subject matter it was less interesting to me than some of his other works but I never found the content dry. As always, his narrations are excellent.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 07-29-15

Best use of a credit

I've listened to "a short history of nearly everything" before and I enjoyed "at home" just as much. It's great for listening to in short bursts as each chapter doesn't rely on the previous one, but is explained in such a way that listening for a longer period isn't overwhelming. I can see myself listening to this again as there is no way I will be able to remember all of it after one reading and I think it would be just as enjoyable a second time around. Bill Bryson is a fantastic reader, really drawing you into his superb writing. I couldn't recommend this more.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 03-16-15

interesting read.

Slow to start but overall a good read. learnt lots reading this. other BB are worth reading first.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Roderic
  • 12-11-15

Excellent! Informative, entertaining & passionate

Another excellent work by Bryson, made better by the fact that he narrates it himself. My appreciation is weighed equally between the humour, which never fails to entertain me, and the fascinating and well-researched explication of history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Diana
  • 10-07-14

Fascinating and detailed.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. Bill Bryson's enthusiasm for the details and human stories behind each invention / building / etc. is obvious and makes everything so much more interesting.

What was one of the most memorable moments of At Home: A Short History of Private Life?

Mice, rats and vermin are discussed in one section of the book. I retained very clear images of a pyramid of rats eating meat off a ceiling hook, and a description of a plague in Victoria, Australia in the early 1900s where rats covered every flat surface. Horrifying and fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Toni
  • 09-08-14

Almost interesting

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

I found very little content about how the ideas and practices of our private lives developed and more about 18th century architecture then I would have liked.

What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

It was well done but lacked crispness of sound

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

Not really

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly researched but not all that interesting especially when compared to A short history of nearly everything, which I enjoyed more.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander Christopher Smith
  • 10-23-17

Good, but a lot of facts

An ok book, but a lot of lists and facts made it long and slow

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-19-17

UK or western short history of private life

While great effort is made to make it short history of private life, it is all around western culture. There is a great deal in other cultures around "private life". Also, slightly circumstantial in some topics and chapters.

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  • Jim
  • 08-10-17

Insight into change

Fantastic insight into the essence of change - what stays the same and what does not.
We may feel that things were "better" in the good old days but we view history through the lenses that suit our sentiment. I am glad I live in this era

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  • Joel
  • 10-24-16

Fascinating Take On The Oddities Of Culture Past

Bryson is true to his style - venturing deep in immense and exciting detail in to otherwise mundane topics. The otherworldly yet familiar lives of our recent ancestors is explored and dismantled with charm, and an impressive number of witty diversions. I admittedly never had a deep interest into the preindustrial Britain and the lives of extravagant nobility so I got through it in bite sized doses, and it was far from the 'couldn't put it down' response that I had with his fantastic 'Short history of...' In particular I enjoyed hearing about the fantastic feats of engineering in projects thrown together featuring men of little experience for the job. Laughed many times at the ridiculous social norms and fashions of days past. I'm sure our daily lives will seem outlandish to those coming 100 years hence. Its unfortunate that they won't have Bill's comical and deadpan retrospection from their modern context!

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  • Ross
  • 10-04-16

Fascinating

Classic Bill Bryson written and read with intelligent wit and sarcastic charm. A recommended addition to your Bryson collection.