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At Home : A Short History of Private Life by…

At Home : A Short History of Private Life (edition 2011)

by Bill Bryson

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4,1692051,202 (3.94)207
Title:At Home : A Short History of Private Life
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Black Swan Books, Limited (2011), Paperback, 700 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

  1. 40
    Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders (digifish_books, Booksloth)
    digifish_books: A more detailed room-by-room consideration of domestic life in Victorian Britain
  2. 41
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (petterw)
    petterw: Same style, same author, same enthusiasm, same fun
  3. 10
    Schott's Original Miscellany by Ben Schott (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: Bryson likes to wander from one topic to another, and toss in bits of trivia and history. Schott's Miscellany is a fascinating collection of trivia without the attempt to thread it together.
  4. 10
    Home; a Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski (liao)
  5. 10
    Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge (fannyprice)
    fannyprice: Bryson's discussion of the development of the home from a more open, collaborative space to a warren of special-purpose rooms as the concept of "privacy" became more important dovetails nicely with Lethbridge's discussion of the increasing physical separation between servants and the served in 18th and 19th century British homes.… (more)
  6. 00
    If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley (Booksloth)
  7. 00
    Nails, Noggins and Newels: An Alternative History of Every House by Bill Laws (meggyweg)
  8. 00
    Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Tangential histories of commonplace things.
  9. 00
    Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant by Jeremy Musson (meggyweg)
  10. 00
    The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider (Othemts)
  11. 00
    House Thinking: A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live by Winifred Gallagher (jcbrunner)
    jcbrunner: Adds the developments of the 20th century to Bryson's story (from a US point of view).
  12. 00
    In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz (Othemts)
  13. 00
    How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built by Stewart Brand (Othemts)
  14. 01
    London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert (meggyweg)

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» See also 207 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Was at the airport bookshop with my sister, looking for something to bring along to our Sri Lanka Maldives trip. I recommended this to her (feeling slightly guilty because I myself hadn't finished reading the science/history version of this), but she flipped through it and pronounced it boring, so I ended up buying it for myself.

Started reading in Colombo during the 3 hour wait for the other member of our traveling party. Pleased to find it was, as advertised, a page turner, except for the parts about architecture (yawn). Otherwise, I was constantly reading out snippets to the great annoyance of my sister ("Oooh, cool. Did you know that...?") until she told me she was reading her own book thank you very much, and that she was politely going to ignore me whenever I did that. Well! Consider yourself deprived of all the fascinating info you *could* have learned.

Bryson had my attention at Roman phallic knickknack, and was able to sustain it throughout the book, such that while my companions were out snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters of the paradise that is Fihalhohi Island, I stretched out on a beach chair and immersed myself in this book instead (okay so I took a quick swim later on). Dipped into the book now and then for the rest of the trip, and finished reading on the plane back home. I now know more about London's sewers than I would ever need to know. (Coincidentally, I bought this along with Terry Pratchett's Dodger", so when Bazalgette made a cameo I was all "!!")

Bryson presents the plans of the old rectory he now lives in, then goes through the rooms one by one as a neat way to structure the narrative (like "House of Memory"). Even so, I kept on forgetting who Reverend (I have to look it up) Marsham was, and had to take a few seconds to remember who he was whenever Bryson started referring to him again. Still, good way of organizing what could have otherwise been a messy variety of topics.

Now off to tackle A Short History of Nearly Everything. ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
It may be a short history, but it is an intensive one. Bryson uses the rooms of his home, an old English rectory, to contemplate every imaginable aspect of the modern life - all those things we now consider indispensable. It was much denser and more varied than I had thought it would be. ( )
  colleenrec | Jun 23, 2017 |
Bill Bryson can somehow take the most mundane sounding of themes and turn it into an adventure spanning the globe with seemingly little effort. At Home: A Short History of Private Life takes readers on a magnificent journey spanning our entire existence and every facet of our lives and introduces us to people, places and events that have shaped our everyday lives whether we know it or not. Bill Bryson's great skill is in presenting facts and history that serve as a launching pad for you to think more closely about everything you encounter and to be curious about the smallest of things. Something like that cannot be praised highly enough.

It's one of those books that once you start reading it you will struggle to put it down. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you're at all familiar with Bill Bryson's other books then this is a must have. If you're at all interested in interesting and strange facts then you'll fall in love instantly with this book. In fact as soon as you're done reading this review I've written go out and buy this book as soon as possible! ( )
  MerkabaZA | Jun 12, 2017 |
This wasn't my favorite Bill Bryson book, so I wouldn't recommend it to a reader looking to check him out for the first time, but as a big Bryson fan, I definitely enjoyed his characteristic wit as I learned the history of so many things about which I hadn't previously thought much. I was less interested in learning the history of his house, in particular, which is the frame that the rest of the book hangs on, but I love seeing how his home sparked his curiosity seemingly mundane features of domestic life. Having just bought my first house, the timing of my read couldn't have been better. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
I was more than a little disappointed by how Anglo-American centric the history of the home apparently is, but it's still a Bill Bryson book. ( )
  porges | Dec 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
“At Home” is baggy, loose-jointed and genial. It moves along at a vigorously restless pace, with the energy of a Labrador retriever off the leash, racing up to each person it encounters, pawing and sniffing and barking at every fragrant thing, plunging into icy waters only to dash off again, invigorated. You do, somehow, maintain forward momentum and eventually get to the end. Bryson is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious.
Bryson is certainly famous enough to have got away with a far less bulging compendium. Instead, on our behalf, he’s been through those hundreds of books (508 according to the bibliography) some of which even the most assiduous readers among us might never have got around to: Jacques Gelis’s History of Childbirth: Fertility, Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern Europe, say, or John A Templer’s The Staircase: Studies of Hazards, Falls and Safer Designs. He’s then extracted their most arresting material and turned the result into a book that, for all its winning randomness, is not just hugely readable but a genuine page-turner — mainly because you can’t wait to see what you’ll find out next.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collica, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Some time after we moved into a former Church of England rectory in a village of tranquil anonymity in Norfolk, I had occasion to go up into the attic to look for the source of a slow but mysterious drip.
Chapter I
The Year

In the autumn of 1850, in Hyde Park in London, there arose a most extraordinary structure: a giant iron-and-glass greenhouse covering nineteen acres of ground and containing within its airy vastness enough room for four St. Paul's Cathedrals.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767919386, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) turns his attention from science to society in his authoritative history of domesticity, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. While walking through his own home, a former Church of England rectory built in the 19th century, Bryson reconstructs the fascinating history of the household, room by room. With waggish humor and a knack for unearthing the extraordinary stories behind the seemingly commonplace, he examines how everyday items--things like ice, cookbooks, glass windows, and salt and pepper--transformed the way people lived, and how houses evolved around these new commodities. "Houses are really quite odd things," Bryson writes, and, luckily for us, he is a writer who thrives on oddities. He gracefully draws connections between an eclectic array of events that have affected home life, covering everything from the relationship between cholera outbreaks and modern landscaping, to toxic makeup, highly flammable hoopskirts, and other unexpected hazards of fashion. Fans of Bryson's travel writing will find plenty to love here; his keen eye for detail and delightfully wry wit emerge in the most unlikely places, making At Home an engrossing journey through history, without ever leaving the house. --Lynette Mong

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in the evolution of private life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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