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

by Bill Bryson

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3,5131711,509 (3.95)186
Member:rWd
Title:At Home : A Short History of Private Life
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Black Swan Books, Limited (2011), Paperback, 700 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

Recently added byrobertwmartin, BEArra, JeanneHyatt, private library, rexparte, summerluv, myjujuself
  1. 40
    The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders (digifish_books, Booksloth)
    digifish_books: A more detailed room-by-room consideration of domestic life in Victorian Britain
  2. 31
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (petterw)
    petterw: Same style, same author, same enthusiasm, same fun
  3. 10
    Home; a Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski (liao)
  4. 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.
  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
    Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant by Jeremy Musson (meggyweg)
  9. 00
    The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on 1000 Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider (Othemts)
  10. 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).
  11. 00
    In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz (Othemts)
  12. 00
    How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built by Stewart Brand (Othemts)
  13. 01
    London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert (meggyweg)
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» See also 186 mentions

English (162)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (171)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
I've been meaning to read this book since last fall. Since then, a lot of people around me have read it, and my husband kept mentioning bits of interesting trivia from it. Most of the book was interesting, or would have been if a bit more of it had been new to me. It wasn't all my husband's fault. I found the sections about architecture particularly dull, since I'd studied architecture, and I was already familiar with a lot of it. The book focuses mostly on the 19th century, an interesting stretch of technological development, but one which I've read too much about lately.

Aside from the lack of fit with what I'd hoped for, it was pretty good. It covered a lot of ground. My one other complaint is the pacing. There's no thread that holds it all together, and each section seems about the same as the last in terms of depth of coverage, length, etc., which gets monotonous after a while. I wouldn't discourage someone from reading this, but I'm not that excited about it, either. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
interesting reference for historical fiction ( )
  NoelleGreene | Mar 18, 2015 |
interesting reference for historical fiction ( )
  NoelleGreene | Mar 18, 2015 |
A delightful, easy-to-read book about the history of house and home. This lovely book could be expanded into multiple volumes, as the majority is placed in recent history. Understandably, Bill Bryson could not have covered the whole of history and prehistory with the whims, ideas and artifacts of all there is to do with the invention, reinvention and continual adaption and evolution of our everyday lives. And yet I would gladly read through several more thousands of pages of his writing.

The book does focus a lot on the architectural and financial history of the house. There are a few rooms' evolution described in detail. However, there are equally enough rooms that lack explanation for existence. In these cases, the goings-on of everyday life in these rooms is described historically to present. ( )
  Sovranty | Feb 2, 2015 |
Bryson's history of everyday life has his trademark charm and seeming effortlessness. Greatly enjoyed it, and recommend it as a bracing dose of anti-nostalgia. On balance the good old days were always more nasty, brutish and short than the present. ( )
  AThurman | Dec 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (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.
 
In a sense, Bryson’s book is a history of “getting comfortable slowly,” and he notes that flushing toilets were the most popular feature at theCrystal Palace exhibition in 1851. Informative, readable and great fun.
added by khuggard | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 1, 2010)
 
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.
 
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.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collica, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Introduction

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:23 -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 15 descriptions

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