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At Home: A Short History of Private Life…

At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bryson) (edition 2010)

by Bill Bryson (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,2342391,441 (3.94)258
Bryson takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in the evolution of private life.
Title:At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bryson)
Authors:Bill Bryson (Author)
Info:Transworld Digital (2010), Edition: 01, 706 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

  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. 41
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (petterw)
    petterw: Same style, same author, same enthusiasm, same fun
  3. 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)
  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
    Home; a Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski (liao)
  6. 00
    Nails, Noggins and Newels: An Alternative History of Every House by Bill Laws (meggyweg)
  7. 00
    How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both books address some of the same technological advances, such as refrigeration and electricity and artificial light, for a popular audience.
  8. 00
    Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Tangential histories of commonplace things.
  9. 00
    If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley (Booksloth)
  10. 00
    In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz (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
    Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant by Jeremy Musson (meggyweg)
  13. 00
    The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider (Othemts)
  14. 00
    How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built by Stewart Brand (Othemts)
  15. 01
    London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert (meggyweg)

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» See also 258 mentions

English (220)  Dutch (5)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (237)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
I get excited when I pick up a Bill Bryson book but after a while I get disappointed. His first chapters are brilliant, really get you hooked but after that it gets diluted and distracted. There were times in this book where I could have sworn that he had just lifted out the stuff that his researchers had given him and pasted it in with minor modifications. You can almost detect a style change in the text.

It's as if he wants to fluff the book out with fact after fact and in the process he dilutes the content to the point that it becomes waffle.

Is it just me? ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
very fun, very readable, but a bit random. No question I enjoyed it, but I love random earthy/domestic history. But I was wanting a bit more depth and relevance. ( )
  JenniferElizabeth2 | Aug 25, 2020 |
Bryson uses his British home, a former Church of England rectory in a small village, as a launching place to talk about anything British. Particularly Britain in the 19th century. His research makes him appear omniscient. It's transparent and homey. Always interesting. No one does the droll and fascinating segue better. ( )
  Mark-Bailey | Aug 7, 2020 |
Very entertaining, if meandering and unfocused - this really is all an excuse for Bryson to dump lots of interesting factoids he's discovered.

Bryson's breezy style feels a little at odds with some of the darker history he discusses and there's certainly little criticality - it does all feel like a slew of trivia rather than anything approaching a true history or wider contexts. It's also almost entirely focused on upper/middle classes (so much architecture!), men and extremely Anglo-American centric - essentially nowhere does he consider how the home develops outside of either the UK or USA, and the living conditions of the poor are barely discussed. He does explain this a little by using his own house as the model, but some of the tangents he goes off down feel very far removed from his quirky Norfolk ex-vicarage adode.

Saying that, as an audio-book read in Bryson's own dulcet tones it flew by and was exactly the distraction I needed in the past week. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
Informative as always, plus it's nice to be entertained while being informed. ( )
  jeanbmac | Jul 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (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
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collica, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Jesse & Wyatt
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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.
Jane Loudon published "Gardening for Ladies" in 1841. It was the first book to encourage women of elevated classes to get their hands dirty and even to take on a faint glow of perspiration. It bravely insisted that women could manage gardening independent of male supervision if they simply observed a few sensible precautions - working steadily but not too vigorously, using only light tools, never standing on damp ground because of the unhealthy emanations that would rise up though their skirts. Here is Mrs Loudon explaining what a spade does.
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Bryson takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in the evolution of private life.

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