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At home : a short history of private life (edition 2010)

by Bill Bryson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9101941,314 (3.93)207
Member:bblum
Title:At home : a short history of private life
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:New York : Doubleday, c2010.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Audio, NF, Great Britain

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. 31
    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 1000 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

English (183)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (194)
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
Bill Bryson uses his nineteenth century house, a former rectory, as a springboard for discussing all manner of tangentially-related domestic inventions and situations. He specializes in resurrecting forgotten architects and inventors, most of whom died in poverty and obscurity after designing influential houses or inventing essential household items.

While some readers will admire Bryson's Anglo-American wit and wide-ranging research, for me, it was all a bit too much. If I hadn't had to finish it for a book club, I probably wouldn't have made it to the end. ( )
  akblanchard | Jul 12, 2016 |
Not my favourite Bill Bryson book. While it is informative it is lacking the usual humour, occasionally raising a smile but never laugh out loud funny. The only reason I've marked this as a keeper is that I've kept all my other Bill Bryson books so I'll keep this one as well. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book. I listened to the book on CD, read by the author. It does tend to ramble a bit, but it's an enjoyable ramble. I thought he did a better job in the second half of the book "reminding" the reader of what room we were exploring at the moment when related topics took us rather far afield. (The interconnectivity of life!) I would be curious to learn how he decided what information to include. I am also curious to pick up the print verision and see if he has references to any of his source material.
It's actually a book I wouldn't mind reading or listening to again. I might like to delve deeper into some of his sub-topics and could easily make note of some of the names mentioned to find other materials on related topics.
I'm already looking forward to his next book. ( )
  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
Yet another great piece of work by Bryson. I first came across the writing of Bryson when a magazine article told me "The Lost Continent" was a book I had to read before I died. Not wanting to upset the now-defunct magazine's publisher and not knowing the time and date of my death, I read "The Lost Continent" asap.

While nothing beats a good travelogue, Bryson does well in "At home" as a historian looking at how dwellings have developed over millennia. Bryson can look at history from different ways and make it more interesting and humorous than it really should be. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Feb 16, 2016 |
Chocked full of facts, very readable, but only tangentially about the home. Still, glad I read it, and would recommend. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Feb 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 183 (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 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 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)

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