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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 (4215 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Koch Bros. 01-28-16
    Koch Bros. 01-28-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazingly fun, entertaining & refreshing!"

    For the few other people who are relatively new to Bill Bryson, he is an amazing writer & narrator. This is my 2nd book by him, the 1st being History Of Nearly Everything which he did not narrate. Now I would prefer he did because his voice further impacts his writing.

    Even giving the great reviews, I worried that this book wouldn't fit my taste. I couldn't imagine how a book about his house & it's history could be done in a way that was catching enough to keep me close to my headphones. Well, he did it. Every chapter has a life of its own. There wasn't 1 paragraph, or even sentence, that bored me or glossed me over.

    If the other comments haven't convinced you by now, just buy this book & prepare to laugh, learn, be amazed & entertained. I've been trying to get my girlfriend to give this a try, even though she's not much into audible, but this is the kind of book that anyone can enjoy but no one could express the spirit that'll make you want to start it all over from the beginning.

    (I've purchased "In A Sunburned Country" because of this listen and it is just as good.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 12-29-15
    David United States 12-29-15 Member Since 2012

    Hellicopter Man

    HELPFUL VOTES
    271
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    "The last half is worth more then twice the first"

    The modern world is entirely an Anglo American creation and this book expertly dissects its Anglo birth. I do not believe anyone may call themselves adequately educated who has not read or heard this book.

    The author has, at books end, prematurely swallowed the global warming theology but wisely refrained from pronouncing an imminent extinction of all life on earth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Khaner 12-28-15
    T. Khaner 12-28-15
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    "Fascinating read until the last few paragraphs,"

    when Bill collapses into an all-in fear for the planet that might possibly get as warm as it was a few hundred years ago when everything was lovely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Snider Maryland, USA 11-08-15
    J. Snider Maryland, USA 11-08-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Good book; misleading title"
    Any additional comments?

    An interesting history of the daily objects that constitute our life. This history is often unknown, as we take too much of the present for granted and most historical narratives don't focus on objects but people and great events. But the title of the book--while a great title--really doesn't reflect the contents of the book and felt forced. There is also a bit too much overlap between this book and one of his other books on the history of everything. Still, he is an excellent writer, and the stories are interesting, so the lack of artistic integrity, like in a good piece of journalism, is at most a minor annoyance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AberrantWolf Denver, CO 08-28-15
    AberrantWolf Denver, CO 08-28-15 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

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    18
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    "Wandering and random, and I love it!"

    The author covers an enormous range of topics, often only loosely related to the topic of each chapter, but it doesn't matter because it's all interesting. The history presented is often surprisingly intertwined.

    The author himself, who performs, is sometimes less clear in pronunciation and less compelling in emotion as I would like, but he is easily enough understood; and I think it lends an interesting subtext having the author read his own book to you. :P

    Recommended if you, like I, enjoy all the random bits of trivia knowledge. If you want a cohesive, narrative history, then this is not for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Oldbat Houston, Texas 08-17-15
    The Oldbat Houston, Texas 08-17-15 Member Since 2006

    The Oldbat

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    "Interesting approach to a "walk through history""
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. If you have an interest in the origin of words and customs, you will love this book.


    What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

    Bill Bryson entertains with humor and a speaking voice that is pleasant for listening. He doesn't "yell" at you but doesn't put you to sleep either.


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

    Not really. I found it interesting but not particularly funny and did not make me cry.


    Any additional comments?

    The book may have gone a little long and he lingered a little long on some aspects of his walk through the house but generally fun and I learned some things about the origins of words and customs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary 07-27-15
    Gary 07-27-15
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    "Great."

    Wonderful writer, always and every time. He is on point in every detail. I love his work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jason oyer 07-22-15
    jason oyer 07-22-15
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    "Another GREAT Novel by Bill Bryson"

    Great Novel- I can't give it a better rating than A Short History of Nearly Everything though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Frankenfeld Rapid City, SD USA 07-21-15
    Donald Frankenfeld Rapid City, SD USA 07-21-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "First rate"

    A fascinating book, and perfect for the Age of Short Attention Spans, as Bryson strings his facts together with only the barest hint of connective narrative. With an author of less skill this would be annoying. But Bryson leaves you with a sense of loss with each subject from which he departs so quickly, and a sense of anticipatory riches for whatever comes as his next surprise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 07-16-15
    David 07-16-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Outstanding book!"

    Great book. As always Mr. Bryson provides an incredible amount of information in an enjoyable and easy to understand format. I was constantly amazed at how he is always able to tie all the details together no matter where or how he starts a particular part of the history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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