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At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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“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.
(front flap)

497 pages, Hardcover

First published May 27, 2010

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About the author

Bill Bryson

147 books19.6k followers
William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first travel book, he chronicled a trip in his mother's Chevy around small town America. It was followed by Neither Here Nor There, an account of his first trip around Europe. Other travel books include the massive bestseller Notes From a Small Island, which won the 2003 World Book Day National Poll to find the book which best represented modern England, followed by A Walk in the Woods (in which Stephen Katz, his travel companion from Neither Here Nor There, made a welcome reappearance), Notes From a Big Country and Down Under.

Bill Bryson has also written several highly praised books on the English language, including Mother Tongue and Made in America. In his last book, he turned his attention to science. A Short History of Nearly Everything was lauded with critical acclaim, and became a huge bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, before going on to win the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. His next book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, is a memoir of growing up in 1950s America, featuring another appearance from his old friend Stephen Katz. October 8 sees the publication of A Really Short History of Nearly Everything.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,173 reviews
Profile Image for Sonja.
5 reviews67 followers
January 17, 2011
I came across a review that dismissed Bill Bryson's work as being entertaining fact collection that doesn't present anything new. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, if not the implication. There is nothing wrong with entertaining fact collection, and, in my mind, everything right with it. In this age of information overload, the kind of clear-minded research and fact-sorting he performs for his readers is manna sent from communication heaven. The ability (and the willingness) to collect, order, set out and present information in the most simple and logical way possible is something that I will always treasure in my favourite writers and thinkers. The desire to popularise science and historical research marks an author, for me, as intellectually generous.

The fact that the book has such a logical flow is actually a triumph, arising primarily from the the way the facts have been organised. The hallmark of a good idea is the way it seems blindingly obvious in retrospect, and it must be said that it was very astute to choose the home as an organising metaphor, one with which every reader is familiar. A history of domestic life could just as easily been organised chronologically, for example. Or divided into discrete units by subject - 'servants', 'hygiene', 'architecture' - just like the school textbooks that turned us off this stuff in the first place.

Using a tangible concept allows Bryson to create easily-visualised conceptual spaces from which to launch his explorations, allowing him ramble freely across history, linguistics and science without losing us. It allows him a safe space to create links between Victorian prudishness, evolution, poor houses and nursery rhymes without leaving us reeling in confusion. The judicious introduction of a smattering of already-familiar historical figures such as Washington, Jefferson, Columbus and Darwin also saves the narrative from spiralling into abstraction.

In my view, the real magic in Bryson's brand of popular science is turning everyday items into objects of mystery. Why have pepper and salt become the only two condiments that feature on every western table? Why do forks have four tines and not five? Why do we cultivate lawns? Why do we have buttons on our jacket cuffs? Why are pigs eaten and dogs domesticated and not the other way around? Everything from our windows to our mattresses suddenly holds a story.

I have enough of an aversion to the Dan Brown brand for it to have prevented me from reading any of his work, but I have the deepest admiration for the way he, in a similar manner, has been able to suggest that existing, accessible, tangible locations hold clues to a larger conspiracy. Injecting a little bit of play into everyday life is a marvellous thing. And stretching it a little further, it's not so different from Foursquare, which also transforms our everyday places into part of a broader narrative (in the case of Foursquare, a social narrative, in Bryson or Dan Brown's case, an historical narrative).

Making us feel like we have a tangible connection to our own history is important for someone like me, and presumably some others of my generation, who don't feel it very often. Suddenly, the USA's AT&T, which I only know from its stranglehold over iPad contracts, is also Alexander Graham Bell's American Telephone & Telegraph company. The tobacco we smoke is the same stuff that the fifteenth-century American Indians were inhaling, and we're still eating stone age crops and using the names of their gods for the days of the week ('Tiw, Woden, Thor... and Woden's wife Frig').

I'm also a sucker for anything that links real life with the abstractions of language, and the book's full of etymological delicacies for language nerds. For example, we find out that the earlier incarnations of our 'toiletries' could be found on the 'toile' cloth on top of a dresser, 'banquet' comes from the french word for the benches people used to sit on, and the pantry or 'bread room' is derived from the latin word 'panna'. And why do we still say 'sleep tight'? Because we used to kip on mattresses supported by ropes that could be tightened by a key.

On the other hand, the book also forces us to consider how abruptly different our current period is from most of the rest of human existence.For instance, Bryson tells me that although running water has been around since Caeser was a boy, adequate lighting and heating are luxuries that are extraordinarily recent. Even the weekend is a very young concept. Doctors haven't been washing their hands between patients for very long, and operations, anaesthetic, germs, vitamins and minerals were unknown terms not so long ago. People haven't been washing their whole bodies at all, or even parts of it regularly, for most of history. The logical consequence of all of this, as far as I can see, is for us to reconsider those things we take for granted, which is never a bad thing.

For me, this is another way of disempowering the almighty status quo, calling into question the norms we take for granted by showing how they are culturally determined and stubbornly anchored to an historical context.

It's easy to read, it's full of facts you can pull out during the next awkward silence. And, to quote Winnie the Pooh, 'it's more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy ones'
Profile Image for Anita.
1,793 reviews37 followers
March 18, 2011
If Bill Bryson and Sarah Vowell wrote all the history texts, and Mary Roach wrote all the science texts, our society would be more educated and amused than anywhere on earth. I want to say that this book was a greatly informative text on the history of sanitation, architecture, anglo-saxon culture, farming, growth of cities, and society in general, but I'm afraid that would put you off.
This is the story of his house in England. He takes us through each room discussing the history, scientific breakthroughs, and characters that helped create it. Through this device, we learn the history of English and American culture and everyday life. Bryson is such an entertaining and knowledgeable writer that he informs while amusing us. He tells the stories of numerous inventors and craftsmen that are important but obscure. He tells those fascinating incidents that make us laugh and ponder how we got to where we are today. I learned more from this book than I did from a year's worth of history classes in college. He is even a good reader-the audiobook is narrated by him and is often laugh out loud funny. Reading the book is laugh out loud funny too. More miraculously, he is the only author that both Rick and I read and agree on.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
Looking for a new book but don't want to commit? Check out my latest BooktTube Video: One & Done - all about fabulous standalones!

Now that you know this one made the list - check out the video to see the rest!

The Written Review :

The things that were a thing back in the day boggles my mind

Even though sugar was very expensive, people consumed it till their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn't turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealthy and marvelously self-indulgent they were.

Bill Bryson goes from room to room in an ordinary house and asks questions. Questions that have never (and will never) think to ask. Why do we have four walls? How did doorways get invented? When did people start eating in the kitchen? Where do dining tables originate?

The dining table was a plain board called by that name. It was hung on the wall when not in use, and was perched on the diners' knees when food was served. Over time, the word board came to signify not just the dining surface but the meal itself, which is where the board comes from in room and board. It also explains why lodgers are called boarders.

You see? It's just fascinating - so, so many unasked questions and fabulously researched answers. This book is just chock-full of tangents - often leading down rabbit-holes to equally interesting topics:

Pantaloons were often worn tight as paint and were not a great deal less revealing, particularly as they were worn without underwear. . . . Jackets were tailored with tails in the back, but were cut away in front so that they perfectly framed the groin. It was the first time in history that men's apparel was consciously designed to be more sexy than women's.

Highly, highly recommended for a fun read that will have you looking twice at everything in your house. All my unasked questions are now answered.

It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.

Audiobook comments
Excellent to listen to - I felt like the reader was just as excited as I was!!

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Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,275 followers
June 13, 2016
Reading this book is rather like having a trivia buff give you a sixteen-hour, cocaine-fueled tour of his house. It is exhilarating, exhausting, and often alarming.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
May 10, 2022
At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson

The book covers topics of the commerce, architecture, technology and geography that have shaped homes into what they are today, told through a series of "tours" through Bryson's Norfolk rectory that quickly digress into the history of each particular room. Bill Bryson gives us a fascinating history of the modern home, taking us on a room-by-room tour through his own house and using each room to explore the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted. As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in the paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture. Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز نهم ماه می سال2016میلادی

عنوان: در جستجوی خوشبختی؛ نویسنده: بیل برایسون (برایسن)؛ مترجم: علی ایثاری‌کسمایی؛ تهران، نشر آموت، سال1390؛ در525ص؛ شابک9786005941401؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده21م

نویسنده در این کتاب دل انگیز ناداستان، ‌تاریخ تکامل انسان را بیان کرده، و کوشش داشته اند، تا آن را با سبک و نگاهی تازه به نگارش درآورند، مترجم کتاب میگویند «این کتاب یک تاریخ تمدن است»؛ در این کتاب، نویسنده، مسائل و مباحثی را که در گذر تاریخ رخ داده اند، در بخش‌های گوناگون یک خانه همانند: پذیرایی، هال و اجزای گوناگونی که هر خانه‌ ای دارد، بررسی کرده، و از این رو، در این کتاب، نگاهی تازه را می‌خوانیم

نقل از پشت جلد کتاب: (خانه‌ها مخزن‌های پیچیده‌ ی حیرت‌آوری هستند؛ آنچه پی بردم، در نهایت شگفتی، این بود که هر چه در جهان رخ می‌دهد، هر چه کشف یا ساخته می‌شود، یا بر سر آن به شدت مبارزه می‌شود؛ در نهایت به شکلی به خانه‌ های ما راه می‌یابد؛ جنگ‌ها، قحطی‌ها، انقلاب صنعتی، عصر روشنگری، همه‌ ی آنها در کاناپه‌ ها و قفسه‌ های شما، در چین‌های پرده‌ ها، در نرمی کرک‌های بالش شما، در رنگ‌های دیوارها و در آب لوله‌ های خانه‌ های شما وجود دارند؛ به این دلیل تاریخ زندگی خانواده آن‌طور که من کمابیش تصور کرده بودم، فقط تاریخ تختخوابها و کاناپه‌ ها و اجاقهای آشپزخانه‌ ها نیست، بلکه تاریخ اسکوبرت و کود مرغ دریایی و برج ایفل و ساس و دزدیدن جسد، و درباره‌ ی هر چیز دیگری است، که تاکنون رخ داده است، خانه مکانی برای فرار از تاریخ نیست بلکه جایی است که تاریخ به آنجا منتهی می‌شود.)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Labijose.
985 reviews460 followers
July 29, 2021
Otro libro de Bill Bryson con el que me lo he pasado muy bien. “En Casa” es la historia de las cosas pequeñas, aquellas en las que apenas nos fijamos. Partiendo del plano de la casa del autor en Norfolk (Inglaterra), Bryson va recorriendo habitación tras habitación, y nos va contando el recorrido de esos pequeños grandes inventos. Inventos que significaron grandes avances para la humanidad. Desde la conservación de alimentos a la electricidad. Desde el agua corriente a la creación de los retretes. De la calefacción al control de las epidemias. Todo narrado con su ingenio característico y su convincente manera de hacer divulgación.

Del corte de su otra obra maestra “Una breve historia de casi todo”, y con el mismo sello que caracteriza a sus numerosos libros de viajes, de personajes históricos o de las vicisitudes de la lengua inglesa, encuentro que Bryson es un compañero indispensable para este tipo de lecturas. Es ameno. Es divertido. Es “suficientemente” riguroso (aquí habrá muchos que opinen lo contrario, cada cual según su credo). Y su lectura, en mi caso, constituye un auténtico placer.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,717 followers
December 24, 2013
I have a brain crush on Bill Bryson. I find his books entertaining, insightful and delightfully humorous. "At Home" did not disappoint, giving a fascinating, rambling, Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink view of world history.

The book is structured into chapters based on the different parts of a house, such as the kitchen, the drawing room, the cellar, the bedroom, etc. In the introduction, Bryson explains that he and his wife moved into a former church rectory in a village in eastern England, and some odd quirks of the Victorian house piqued his interest. Soon he was investigating why things are the way they are, and he shares some interesting stories of yesteryear. For example, why are salt and pepper the two main spices on a dining table? How was cement discovered? Who decided how stairs should be sized? When was the fuse box created? Why is there a telephone in the hallway? And on and on, covering dozens of inventions and events.

One of the many things I liked about this book was the wide variety of topics discussed and how briskly Bryson moves through them. If he hits a subject you don't care for or one that you already know about, just wait a few minutes and he'll move on to something else. For example, during the chapter on the bathroom he discusses various cholera epidemics in England and who figured out that contaminated water was the problem, which is a subject I'm familiar with having read the excellent book "The Ghost Map." So I waited patiently for Bryson to summarize the cholera info, and very soon he was on to discussing how London's sewer system was developed. Brilliant!

The book is wonderfully well-written -- as all Bryson books are -- and to try and pull good quotes is an exercise in retyping most of the text. But here are a few tidbits:

"It was unquestionably a strange world. Servants constituted a class of humans whose existences were fundamentally devoted to making certain that another class of humans would find everything they desired within arm's reach more or less the moment it occurred to them to desire it." (from The Scullery and Larder)

"Salt is now so ubiquitous and cheap that we forget how intensely desirable it once was, but for much of history it drove men to the edge of the world." (from The Dining Room)

"To the unending exasperation of the Chinese authorities, Britain became particularly skilled at persuading Chinese citizens to become opium addicts -- university courses in the history of marketing really ought to begin with British opium sales -- so much so that by 1838 Britain was selling almost five million pounds of opium to China every year." (from The Dining Room)

"The real problem with beds, certainly by the Victorian period, was that they were inseparable from that most troublesome of activities, sex ... To avoid arousal, women were instructed to get plenty of fresh air, avoid stimulating pastimes like reading and card games, and above all never to use their brains more than was strictly necessary." (from The Bedroom)

"So Whitney's [cotton] gin not only helped make many people rich on both sides of the Atlantic but also reinvigorated slavery, turned child labor into a necessity, and paved the way for the American Civil War. Perhaps at no other time in history has someone with a simple, well-meaning invention generated more general prosperity, personal disappointment, and inadvertent suffering than Eli Whitney with his gin." (from The Dressing Room)

And on the first time that someone successfully drilled for oil in 1859: "Although no one remotely appreciated it at the time, they had just changed the world completely and forever." (from The Fuse Box)

I listened to "At Home" on audiobook, but I was glad to also have a print copy available to flip through because the printed book contains numerous photos and drawings of things referenced in the text, such as the Stone Age structure of Skara Brae, the famous Crystal Palace in 1851, the Eiffel Tower under construction, and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home. There is also an impressive list of references for anyone who wants to do further research.

This was the first time I've heard Bryson's voice. He is from my home state of Iowa (which has been humorously discussed in several of his books), but he has lived in England for so long that he's developed a charming accent. Bryson is a marvelous narrator and I hope to listen to his other books on audio, even ones I've read before.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a whimsical look at history.
Profile Image for William Ramsay.
Author 2 books27 followers
December 21, 2010
This is a very hard book to categorize. Ostensibly, it's a description of the author's home in England, but that really doesn't cover it. All I could think of as I was reading it was a great conversation. If we went to his home - an English parsonage built in 1851 - for dinner we would, of course, talk about the house, but like all really great conversation the talk would ramble off in every direction with stories that had nothing to do with this particular house or houses in general for that matter only to touch base again and ramble of in another direction. That a discussion of English parsonages could cover the building of the Erie canal and the use of children in coal mines is not something usually found in history books - but can be found in a great dinner conversation. The fact that it is so rambling and disjointed caused one reviewer on Amazon to give it a one star rating. Poor man. He missed the point. Try a little more wine and enjoy the conversation. I loved the book!
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
June 21, 2011
There are quite a few people I know and respect that don’t really like Bill Bryson. I’ve never quite understood why not. I’m actually very fond of his writing and from this distance I even tend to think he has the perfect life. I mean, you would think that the word dilettante (or perhaps autodidact) had been created just for him. Wouldn’t you love to have the time to think to yourself, ‘gosh, I wonder how houses first came to be as they are’ – and then to spend, I don’t know, a year? two years? finding out. Then once you have found out to write down all of your more amusing titbits in an engaging book. Does it really get better than that?

I’ve been known to complain about what I call ‘whiteboard books’ before. These are the kinds of books that are written on a topic that has popped into someone’s head – say, potatoes – and first they go to a whiteboard and draw a huge mindmap and then ardently fill in all the gaps – although, sometimes ardent isn’t quite the right adjective, the resulting meal having too much of the texture of bran. Generally, these books need a unifying theme – in the case of this book a walk around the person’s house, or in say Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories the seven ages of man. These unifying frames often don’t quite work the whole way though the book, the frame struggles to contain all of the picture – and if I had one criticism of this book it was that there were quite a few times when I thought, ‘hang on, which room are we supposed to be in again? Why is he talking about this in the passage?’

But the truth is that you need to more or less put the organising scheme out of your mind when you read these kinds of books (otherwise that way madness lies) and just take these books as being a kind of ideal dinner party with someone chatting away amusingly and knowledgeably about things it would be hard not to find interesting. That is, the kind of dinner party you might wish you actually got invited too. Which really must be one of the great benefits of books.

I think we don’t actually read just to know we are not alone – we read to spend time with people being at their best behaviour and trying hard to be at their most interesting. Few people can really sustain this for an entire book – Bryson has proven able to sustain it throughout many, many volumes.

The part of this book I found the most interesting was right towards the end where he does his best to dispel the myth that childhood is a very recent invention and that parents loving their children is likewise a modern idea brought about by the remarkable drop in infant mortality the last hundred years have brought about. The idea that people ‘couldn’t afford’ to love their children – because their subsequent dying in infancy would be too painful for them to allow such affection – can almost seem to make sense in a strange sort of way. However, I think he makes it clear that, really, such a view is pretty well counter to all of the evidence.

This is a book where someone wanders about picking up interesting bits and pieces that initially might seem quite commonplace and then explaining just what it is that makes them quite so interesting. It is light read, but never slight, and just often enough makes you smile or laugh or gasp in revulsion in that way everyone enjoys. This was lots of fun and well worth the read.
Profile Image for Eric_W.
1,923 reviews368 followers
February 29, 2012
Bryson brings us another fascinating tome filled with delightful trivia and anecdotes in this history of housing in Britain.

The “hall” as we know it today is a place to leave the muddy boots and hang coats. Originally, it *was* the whole house. With an open hearth in the middle and members of the family (this included slaves and servants since the one large room made everyone party of the unit) congregating around it, little was private and everyone shared in the heat (or lack thereof.) The invention of the chimney and fireplace (in the early 14th century) changed all that. Now private spaces could be created including an upstairs and separate rooms from which lesser members of the unit could be excluded. Sometimes fireplaces were built big enough to have seats in them since they radiated much less heat than the open hearth. On the other hand, smoke collecting on the ceiling would prevent birds from nesting there and many people complained that without the smoke they were more subject to ill-health.

Bryson, as is his wont and to my delight, wanders all over the place. His section on food, the politics and reality of adulteration, and the early methods for saving and transporting ice are simply fascinating. Lots of delectable trivia regarding eating habits and what they ate. The 18th century was notoriously gluttonous. Queen Anne got so fat she couldn’t walk upstairs and had to be lowered and raised through a trapdoor in the floor. That must have been a sight. And they ate foods we would never consider eating and sometimes vice versa. Lobster was considered such trash food that it was often written into agreements with servants they would not be served it more than twice a week, and in Massachusetts it was forbidden to serve it to prisoners. On the other hand in America Sturgeon was so plentiful that caviar was laid out on bars as snack food.

The relationship between servants and upper crust is detailed enough to provide a useful companion to Gosford Park. It’s perhaps ironic that servants might be said to really run the place and the tipping required of guests could make a weekend visit to the manor expensive indeed. Servants in America had a more egalitarian position - except in the South where slavery predominated. (It was pretty much abolished in the North after 1827.) The presence of servants and slaves had an effect on inventiveness and northern America was particularly adept at developing labor-saving devices although it must be noted that most of the labor saved was that done by men, some of the devices even increasing the workload of women. Electricity was to change all of that, and by WWI when blackout restrictions were vigorously enforced, people soon realized how accustomed they had become to having some ambient light at night. Cars were forbidden from even having dash lights so moving about at night became a distinct hazard. Bryson notes that during the first year of the war some 4000 people were killed in traffic accidents, a 100% increase over the previous year and the Germans, without dropping a bomb, were killing Britons at the rate of 600 per month.

This book serves as a welcome antidote to those of us suffering from a delusional nostalgia for the past when the society we yearn for existed only among the rich; the rest dying young from numerous diseases we no longer even recognize, or working at laborious twelve-hour jobs for miserable pay, and having nothing to show for it.

One of the most interesting sections dealt with the hazards of paint and wallpaper. I had no idea. Apparently, wallpaper was filled with toxic chemicals including a form of arsenic and moving a patient outside to fresher air had real benefits. It was noted early on that rooms with wallpaper had no bedbugs -- for good reason. Paint, as we now know, was also filled with noxious toxins and vivid, bright colors were prized, unlike the muted pastels we seem to favor today.

The temptation when reading such a book is to fill one’s review with delectable tidbits of trivia, a temptation to which I usually succumb.

And, by the way, Thomas Jefferson created the french fry.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
May 6, 2015
Tremendously interesting history book for people with ADD and butterfly minds. It's as if someone had taken an encyclopedia and very cleverly joined all the entries so it looked like a proper book. Oh, it was a proper book! Well then, very clever.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,447 reviews480 followers
March 3, 2016
This book has lots of interesting factoids but these are buried under many pages-long avalanches of words about "unfairly neglected" minor personages of history. It sort of delivers on the promise of telling us something about the home we live in and what's inside it, but the cost of that information is a ton of tangential trivia I found extremely boring. Others surely find all the meandering anecdotes entertaining and that's fine, but then the book should be titled something like "shooting the breeze with Bill Bryson; a rather long history of inconsequential trivia." I liked the premise of the book and was hoping for something that stuck with it and got to the point a bit more often.
Profile Image for Caroline.
506 reviews585 followers
August 21, 2020
I am currently only reading books as a bedtime ritual, but this one turned out to be hopeless for winding me down at the end of the day. Lying in bed roaring with laughter is not the best way of preparing for sleep - and roar I did. The book is a hotch-potch of amazing descriptions of Victorian life. It has a pot-boiler's thirst for sensationalism, and it's highly entertaining as well as informative. It's not all fun. Bryson doesn't only write about the funnier eccentricities of British Victorian life, he also discusses some of the horrors.

He covers a large range of issues..... Half polymath and half dilettante he leaps and skips from one issue to the next. I enjoyed his meanderings, but perhaps that was in part because I am reasonably familiar with the Victorian period, so could just sit back and enjoy his delvings. He also discusses some issues from the 18th century and earlier, but the bulk of the book centres on Victorian life.

Herewith my usual dollop of copious notes - totally for my own interest.....

The Great Exhibition

The Chartist Rallies



Workers and the industrial revolution.:

Women in Service:


Opium and Tea:

Municipal Parks:

John Snow, cholera and fake news:


Thomas Barnardo:

And finally a topic that was to me quite unexpected. Perhaps an issue that would particularly strike an American who has made Britain his home.

Death Duties & the loss of big country houses:

All in all a great read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,297 followers
August 15, 2017
"If you had to summarise it in one sentence, the history of domestic life is the history of getting comfortable slowly."

Whew... Ladies and gentlemen, I have spent an exhausting yet exhilarating ten days with Bill Bryson at his Norfolk home. When he invited me to take a look at this former Church of England rectory, I hardly expected spend more than an afternoon there - a spot of tea, maybe a couple of beers in the evening, along with the promised tour of the house. But I got much more than I bargained for.

Initially, Bill took me up to the attic (we had to clamber up a stepladder and wiggle through a ceiling hatch - an extremely uncomfortable exercise, mind you) to show me a small door which opened out into a curious rooftop space, which afforded a view of the countryside which was breathtaking and panoramic. As I stood entranced, drinking it up, Bill asked me whether I would like to chat with him about domestic life - and I agreed.

What followed was an expedition through the house, starting with the hall and ending, once again, in the attic. But I must confess I had little time to notice the features of the domicile in particular, as Bill was filling my head with an absolute avalanche of trivia connected with domestic life in Britain and the United States of America.

After giving me a general background on the era on which he was going to hang his exposition of domesticity (the Victorian Age, with the 1851 Great Exhibition as its pivot) and the development of English clergy in general, Bill Bryson properly got going on how the British forgot all about the civilised Roman Era and started from scratch once they left England. In the hall, he told me that most homes were just that - a big hall - until the 1500's, when the fireplace was invented and people could think of building upstairs; till then, the people all lived together communally and slept, ate and copulated around a roaring fire in the middle of the room. He gave so many fascinating details (though some of them were definitely unsavoury) that my head was hopelessly spinning by the time he pulled me into the kitchen and started to talk about how eating habits developed and changed. The things he told me! I am extremely glad that I did not have to visit England prior to the advent of ice in 1844, let me tell you (though being something of a trencherman, I would have been perfectly at home in the eighteenth century - if I was able to ignore the quality of meat an fish on the table, that is).

Going now into the scullery and ladder, the discussion turned to the subject of domestic servants - how great a workforce was required, and how they had to be punishingly overworked, to keep the gentry in comfort. I was so blown away by the account that I asked him why there hadn't been a revolution. Bill then told me that even though life was tough for a servant, most country houses were lived in only a two to three months a year, so they had a relatively calm life for the rest of the year: and considering the circumstances, they made good money.

Under the fusebox, Bill waxed lyrical about electricity, and how it changed domestic life for ever - about how unsafe it was initially, but how ultimately this elemental force was tamed by mankind. Happily here I could contribute something to the conversation, as I work in the field of safety and am aware of how the concept of electrical safety is improving day by day.

Now he took me down to the cellar. I was expecting to be treated to some vintage wine, but no: Bill started on giving me a lecture on the building of the Erie Canal! It was quite some time before I caught his gist - he was talking about house construction in general, and about bricks in particular. The exposition was so interesting that I forgot the damp and mustiness, I must tell you.

Then we came up to the passage. Here also, the subject was only tenuously connected to the room: we talked about the Eiffel Tower (of all things!), the development of architecture and civil engineering (a subject which interested me), concrete and the invention of the telephone, based on an instrument of this particular family sitting quietly in an alcove in a corner. We moved on to the study then, a dark and dingy room, which was never used for the purpose it was named for - or so Bill said. Here, he began to expound at length on mice, rats, bats, locusts, microbes and myriad other pests until I was on tenterhooks, expecting a rat to take a bite at my ankle at any moment!

By this time, I wanted a breath of fresh air very badly, so Bill took me out into the garden. He told that my apprehensions were quite understandable: it was the same obsession that Britons had for fresh air (and the rather mistaken belief that all maladies were the product of bad odours) that led to so many of the beautiful gardens and parks we see in England. He then gave me such a fascinating history of parks and gardens in England and America that left me spellbound. This was undoubtedly the most pleasurable part of the tour.

After a while, we went in again, and visited the "Plum Room". Bill confessed that he did not know what it was used for - they called it that because the walls were painted that colour. He hazarded a guess that the original rector, Mr. Marsham may have used it as a library. It was built in great architectural style: and the mere mention of the fact sent Bill into the history of ornate architecture. It was originally conceived by an Italian stonemason named Andrea di Pietro della Gondola - better known as Palladio - in the sixteenth century, and copied by stately homes in England and America in later centuries. The most famous examples are Monticello in Virginia built by Thomas Jefferson and Mount Vernon in Colombia built by George Washington.

We climbed up to the bedroom now; and on the way, Bill explained to me the dangers of staircase climbing (the main safety hazard in any home) and the history of paint, through an extremely toxic past to the relatively safe present. But in the bedroom (one my favourite places in my house), Bill treated me to such stories of horror that I was almost sick. Beginning with the extremely uncomfortable nature of old-time mattresses, he proceeded to sex and how it was seen as a lamentable necessity; the horrific devices employed to stop "self abuse"; the travails suffered by women because doctors knew nothing about their anatomy; the ravages of syphilis; and finally about surgery without anesthesia, the disposal of dead bodies... well, you get the point, I guess.

But these were nothing compared to the stories of squalor he related in the bathroom. It seems that up until the eighteenth century when Dr. Richard Russell popularised his water cures, Britons were strongly opposed to exposing themselves to water. (There was the story of a lady who had not bathed for 28 years, and the Marquis d'Argens, who wore the same undershirt for so many years that when it was removed finally, pieces of his skin came along with it.) As if this was not enough, Bill started talking about toilets, and... no, better hear that yourself; just the memory of that scatological exposition makes me sick.

When we entered the dressing room next, however, Bill came off this morbid thought stream and started discussing about fashions - about how Victorians made dressing a sort of torture with the men's wigs, women's tall hairdos, and impossible dress items such as the corset and the crinoline. He also educated me on the history of cotton - a fascinating subject.

Then we came to the nursery. I thought this would be one of the areas for discussing the pleasantest subjects - but guess what? Bill took me to streets of Victorian London: the filth, the squalor, and the inhumanity. This was the world of Oliver Twist and the chimney sweeps, where poor children could hope to survive for a maximum of twelve years with backbreaking labour. Even though not life-threatening, however, life was no cakewalk for well-to-do children also: they lived in a loveless world of strictures and duty, with frightening stories and the ever present cane to keep them in line.

I thought then that the tour was over. But no: Bill hauled me up to the attic again, and gave a scholarly lecture on Charles Darwin and Sir John Lubbock, the man responsible for the preservation of most of Britain's archaeological heritage and also the creator of the secular public holiday. He also talked wistfully about the stately homes which disappeared due to the agricultural crisis of 1870.

As we were climbing down, he said:
"Today it takes the average citizen of Tanzania almost a year to produce the same volume of carbon emissions as is effortlessly generated every two and a half days by a European, or every twenty-eight hours by an American. We are, in short, able to live as we do because we use resources at hundreds of times the rate of most of the planet's other citizens. One day - and don't expect it to be a distant day - many of those six billion or so less well off people are bound to demand to have what we have, and to get it as easily as we got it, and that will require more resources that this planet can easily, or even conceivably, yield."

Sobering thought, that.


Well, Bill, I really enjoyed my visit with you. But pardon me if I do not make another visit in the near future. I need some time to digest all these information that you have poured into my head!
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
May 28, 2017
Well that wasn't very "at home" at all, quite frankly! But hey, it was still good!

In At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson, that transient American-Brit, is in England for this look at the house, that thing humans use to keep the rain off their heads. If you've ever gone out for a drive you've probably seen one.

Using the house he bought in the Norfolk area of England (northeast of London), Bryson takes us for a lengthy and meandering tour of each room of the standard home from the cellar to the attic. He also details a few different styles of homes over time and takes in a good deal of history in the bargain...Western history that is, and most of that is specific to the UK and US.

The function, usage, transformation and more of each room is described, occasionally exhaustively. Tangents ensue often and are sometimes longwinded. For instance, while discussing the bedroom Bryson goes beyond sex and sleeping, getting on to the topics of surgical practices and the Plague among other things.

As luck would have it, I'm the sort of person who loves facts, factoids, tidbits, walking encyclopedias, and brainiacs. When someone starts a sentence with "Did you know...", I'm the guy pulling my chair up closer. I am Bryson's perfect audience. Not everyone is, so I expect quite a few readers would be annoyed by the writer's wandering ways, especially house-lovers who aren't necessarily interested in Samuel Pepys' extramarital affairs and who just want to focus on the bloody house for the love of Frank Lloyd Wright!

However, even I have my limits and this is probably my least favorite Bryson book so far, but that's not to say it's bad. It's quite good and I really enjoyed it. The thing is, I REALLY enjoyed the other books of his I've read so far and this one lacks the joy and exuberance of the others. RATING: 3.5
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,536 followers
June 12, 2015
A fun and mind expanding tour of Anglo-American cultural history structured loosely around the rooms of his Victorian rector’s house in village in Norfolk, England. If you have experienced the pleasures of some of his travel books, you will recognize his method of using an experience in the present as a launching pad for circles of digression down many fascinating paths before returning with amazing insights into the curious behaviors and marvelous accomplishments of human creativity. It all started for him with wondering about oddities of his house, which led to a basic curiosity about how living in houses evolved. A farmer neighbor’s discovery of a Roman artefact in a field made him consider why the civilized comforts of home enjoyed by the Romans took so long to reinvent:

Now as I stood on the roof of my house, taking in this unexpected view, it struck me how rather glorious it was that in two thousand years of human activity the only thing that had stirred the notice of the outside world even briefly was the finding of a Roman phallic pendant. The rest was just daily business—eating, sleeping, having sex, endeavoring to be amused—and it occurred to me, with the forcefulness of a thought experienced in 360 degrees, that that’s really what history mostly is: masses of people doing ordinary things.

As an example, he uses a room like the kitchen for excursions into the history of diet, food preparation, food borne disease, appliances, cookbooks, entertaining, etiquette, and servants. The obscene and often absurd excesses of the aristocracy makes for delicious forays, outdone only be American wannabes of the likes of Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Even for a country rector like the man who occupied his house experienced a typical meal recorded in a published 1794 diary:
Dover sole in lobster sauce, spring chicken, ox tongue, roast beef, soup, fillet of veal with morels and ruffles, pigeon pie, sweetbreads, green goose and peas, apricot jam, cheesecakes, stewed musrooms and trifle

Beyond obvious rooms like the bedroom, dining room, and bathroom, others used for his explorations include scullery, larder, nursery, cellar, attic, stairway, and garden. As just one example, the innovation of glass windows leads you to the story of William Paxton’s construction in five months of the Glass Palace in Hyde Park, the largest building in the world and built from a million square feet of glass and cast iron struts to house 14,000 exhibits of progress of the Industrial Age. By the time you are done you will have an appreciation of hidden connections of history and creativity that underlie the domestic life we take for granted. Along the way you have a frame to hang a lot of knowledge from such fields as art, architecture, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, economics, public health, and technology. The kaleiodoscope of the reading experience makes for a fascinating ride that doesn’t always cohere to a logical. With Bryson, that doesn’t matter as his curiosity, erudition, and wit draws you eagerly on in the adventure of his journey.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,945 followers
July 15, 2011
Bill Bryson's curiosity is boundless, and he loves research. He seems to have a particular fondness for digging up bizarre, creepy, and freaky tidbits to share with his readers. If you don't mind skimming over the dull parts, At Home is worth reading for all the trivia and historical weirdness Bryson shares.

The book is essentially a history of domestic life in Britain and America--its comforts and discomforts, and the inventions along the way that made things easier and cleaner. I found both the title and chapter headings to be a bit misleading, but Bryson was going for a sort of theme that didn't quite come together. If he'd dropped the theme, the book could have been organized a lot more sensibly.

Several of the chapters could be named Architecture, More Architecture, and Still More Architecture. I had to scan over all the long architectural descriptions. I like to look at architecture, but it numbs my brain to read about it.
The chapter called The Passage should be entitled VERMIN! *shudder* And the chapter called The Garden would be more appropriately called Cemeteries, Guano, and More Vermin. Oh, and trust me on this: You do NOT want to read the chapter on The Bathroom at any time directly before, during, or directly after meals. GROSS!

If you like history and don't mind "editing" as you go along (i.e. scan past the boring stuff), you can learn a lot from this book. If nothing else, it will cure you forever of wishing you lived in "the good old days."

As a little teaser, here are some of the strange, fascinating, and alarming things you'll discover in this book:

* In the 1780s, it was fashionable to wear fake eyebrows made of mouse skin.

* Contrary to common legend, the person who invented the brassiere was not named Otto Titzling.

* If you completely remove zinc from your diet, your taste buds will stop working.

* A sample of ice cream in London in 1881 contained human hair, cat hair, insects, and cotton fibers, among other things. EEEEEEEWWWWW!

* If a girl wears a corset six days a week, she can reduce her waist size from 23 inches to 13 inches in just two years.

* The expression "in the limelight" comes from the days before light bulbs, when they actually burned lumps of lime to light up the theater stage.

*Of the total energy produced on Earth since the Industrial Revolution began, half has been consumed in just the last twenty years. (Wake up, America.)

Profile Image for Micah Cummins.
205 reviews208 followers
January 29, 2021
"... whatever happens in the world, whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over, eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house."
- from the introduction

Bill Bryson's wonderful word webbing style shines in AT HOME, a wonderful history of domesticity, and the origins of what we all just accept as constants when it comes to living. Indoor plumbing, electricity, and even the physical structure of the house we live in, started somewhere, and as this book illustrates, often in the midst of radical world changes.

I loved the format of this book. Bill Bryson walks through the rooms of his English home, and tells the history of everything that makes up such a room, and through this form, literally every subject is touched upon. Science, history, politics, medicine, warfare, art, and architecture are all given much page time, resulting in an incredibly fascinating and truly page turning read. Wonderful in every way, a must read for anyone interested in where "home life" began. Five stars.

Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,731 followers
May 30, 2016
“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.”
― Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life


Bryson uses his own family's Victorian parsonage to map out the history (mainly focused on the 18th - 20th Century) of the private life. His discussion of specific rooms ends up allowing Bryson to tangent off onto related topics as wide and varied as sex, family, shit, medicine, architecture, makeup, rope-making, etc.

This book is a movement through a house that allows Bryson to riff on people and ideas that are funny, iconic, and always peculiar. Bryson is amazing at flipping over a stone and telling three different stories about the stone, the flip, and the bugs hiding underneath the stone. He will also examine the shoe that flipped the stone and occasionally inserts his own experience with stones and shoes.

There is rarely a Bryson book that I hasn't made me laugh verbally while reading and filled me with a sort of awe at his ease at relaying interesting trivia and making you look at a place (his travelogues are amazing), a time, or a people in a different way. My wife and I share a love of books, but the oven diagrams of our interests don't often intersect. Bill Bryson is one of those authors we can both read, both enjoy, and often quote back and forth as we read. He seems to possess the same, self-efacing, Midwestern wit as Garrison Keillor, but with just a bit more Anglophile whipped in.

This book follows his the model of his other expansive history: A Short History of Nearly Everything.
Profile Image for James.
430 reviews
September 5, 2017
For Bill Bryson, this is poor: What could have a fascinating, amusing and insightful social history turns out to be a meandering series of not very interesting or particularly entertaining passages on the vague subject of the 'home' and 'private life'. The whole book unfortunately just feels poorly edited, unfocussed and directionless.

As a fan of Bill Bryson's books, this one came as a somewhat of a disappointment. Having now read his subsequent books - it is good to know that he is once again (for the most part) back on form.

This one is for completists only.
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
December 1, 2020
It had been on my reading list for a good long while,but I had never found it.When I finally found it,I was reminded of the saying,"Be careful what you wish for,you might just get it."

It is the most disappointing,yawn inducing Bryson book of them all.

He had written a couple of bad ones before,Bizarre World and Bill Bryson's African Diary.But those,mercifully,were short ones.

This one just went on and on,forever.
It really taxed my patience.The anecdotes and trivia were not interesting,not entertaining and extremely boring.At the start,Bryson says that this book is about the ordinary things in life.

Actually,the book itself is very ordinary.It is the only Bryson book I skimmed through,and even then it never seemed to end.Bored me to tears.

1.5 stars,rounded up.
Profile Image for Martin.
327 reviews143 followers
February 27, 2019
Proof that a writer does not need to go anywhere outside their home in order to produce a good story.

Bill Bryson tells us all about the evolution of our homes in a delightful and personal style.

I had previously read this book before I began to oversee my building crew construct my house on the island of Pilar, Philippines. At one point my construction manager asked me about the proposed stairs to the attic. "An angle of 45 degrees", I said, remembering Bryson's detailed notes on safe types of stairs. My remark impressed my construction manager as apparently this was the right answer.

Bryson relates the fascinating tale of the missing Roman amulet. An amulet was recently found outside the remains of a Roman house in Britain. He imagined the amulet owner patting his pockets and saying to his family "I had it just a moment ago. Now where is it?"

It had been on the ground for nearly 2,000 years until it was found!

When I talk about Bill Bryson's stories to my friends I often want to introduce Bill as another of my friends - because he writes as through he is telling ME of his situations.

All of Bill Bryson's stories are a delight to read and this is one to enjoy.
Profile Image for Julie.
2,011 reviews38 followers
April 29, 2020
Despite the author's wry humor & jaunty reading style this is a very sobering book on social history. Personally, it reminded me that had I begun life just a few decades earlier I would have died during the birth of my first child. Instead, I & my 3 children exist thanks to the marvels of modern medicine & look to make a difference in this amazing world of ours.

Bill Bryson's writing style reminds me of Australian artist Rolf Harris' painting style. Rolf would slap paint on the wall in a seemingly haphazard way. He would keep adding colors & shapes until the aha! moment when all of a sudden the shapes & colors would come together in an amazing picture which would take your breath away. Bill Bryson seems to meander all over the place, however, there is so much enthusiasm in his writing you actually enjoy the journey & the realization that you are learning something creeps up on you. The end comes all too soon leaving you wanting more.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,029 reviews2,385 followers
September 30, 2011
It took me a while to warm up to this one. All the other Bill Bryson books I've read have been about, well...Bill Bryson. HIS trip to Australia - In a Sunburned Country, HIS hike on the Appalachian Trail - A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, HIS childhood in Iowa - The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. This book seemed mostly like a list of facts.

Then around chapter five, The Scullery and Larder, while I was learning about servants and the running of massive estates - one house had 600 copper pots and pans! - I fell under its spell.

True, the book is a collection of facts, but what fascinating facts they are. Everything from the spice trade to the building of the Erie canal to why a fork has four tines.

Bryson's meandering style may drive some readers to drink. A little of this, a little of that...no deep delving on any subject, but I liked it. He manages to trip merrily from bedding material to syphilis to mourning rituals in a matter of 14 pages. Quite honestly, I found the few pages he devoted to London's 1854 cholera outbreak just as informative as the almost 300 page The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.

I added many titles from the bibliography to my "to-be-read" list, so thanks for that, Bryson. I think.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews17 followers
April 22, 2015
Read by His Nibs himself.

Description: “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.
Everything AND the kitchen sink in this one. Even though I was late to this particular house party, the praise I mentally lavish on 'At Home' will make up for this tardiness.
Profile Image for Anne.
442 reviews79 followers
November 26, 2021
“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.”

I became a Bill Bryson fan years ago after reading In a Sunburned Country. Since then, I have enjoyed other books by this author. But, for whatever reason that prevented me, the title or the cover or the book description, I never felt interest in reading At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed this Bryson book just as much as the others I have read. As fascinated and engrossed as I was in this audio, I will admit, it is not for every reader.

This book explains the etymology, architecture, technology, and transformation of everyday rooms, features and items in the home. Things that are so ordinary we don’t think of it as a wonder or innovation. How did people get along without it? How and when did it come into usage? For instance, the stairs in my home don’t seem special to me, but I cannot imagine how I would get around without them. However, this simplistic summary grossly undersells the vast array of topics covered in this book. And frankly sounds a little boring for a book that engaged my attention for over sixteen listening hours.

I chose the audio format, read by the author; it is a wonderful way to experience this book. With his pleasant voice and gentle pacing, Bryson brought history to life.

Well-written and researched, it is wealth of knowledge for history and historical fiction fans. Covering periods from the Middle Ages to present day as they relate to the home. I found clothing and food development particularly interesting. Cleverly organizing the topics by room allows for a vivid mental image of each space. Some spaces that were discussed are basic like readers may guess, the kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom, the bathroom, and the nursery. Others like the drawing room, the scullery and larder, the passage, the cellar, and the fuse box were surprises to me. There are spaces outside of the home too, like the garden.

A word of caution to readers easily grossed out. While making the rounds through the house, topics arise on disease, germs and medical practices, rodents, insects, bathing (or lack of), and unbelievably, things added to food. And death. A lot of toxic and deadly substances found in ordinary objects.

Overall, this was a fascinating, and sometimes disgusting, book full of factoids that should engage the history and reference book lovers alike. Fans of historical fiction, Georgette Heyer fans for instance, will find an interesting look “below stairs” here also. Plus, I found this an excellent supplement to The Remains of the Day.

Profile Image for Anna.
270 reviews91 followers
March 10, 2018
Bill Bryson's work -- and this book in particular -- have been on my list for a long time. I finally grabbed this at the library from the staff recommendations shelf, and it is definitely a good one.
I really enjoyed this volume which provides amazing, jaw-dropping, at times very funny anecdotes of how day-to-day life at home grew to what it is today, and the key dates, figures and time periods that became definitive.
Bryson uses his own home, a former parsonage in England where he lives, as a base for a study of how domestic life grew and changed from the last two centuries to modern times.
Each room serves as a springboard for an exploration of the activities and amenities for each room. For example, the bedroom includes a chapter on beds themselves and how sleeping arrangements evolved with bedding itself, how and from what materials it was manufactured, etc. "The Bathroom" provides a look at how indoor plumbing and sewers evolved and became commonplace. It made me grateful, as no other chapter did, that I live in the 21st century...each room contains an infinite number of opportunities to explore how life at home changed and the very concept of being comfortable came into being.
My only criticism is that Bryson seemed to find so many interesting aspects of history to write about that he diverged from his initial points about domestic life throughout the book, and ended up on tangents about world history that got to be a little arcane at times. Overall, though, I loved this and plan on reading his other work, which also has come very rightly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Thomas.
767 reviews177 followers
April 3, 2016
This is a very informative book about everyday furnishings in and around people's homes and how they evolved over the centuries. Bryson mentions that one huge English mansion had a room devoted entirely to cleaning bedpans.
Profile Image for Mari Carmen.
490 reviews75 followers
September 22, 2021
Con la excusa de hablar de las estancias de la antigua rectoría, el narrador nos da un paseo por la historia, unos datos cuanto menos curiosos y que me han sacado más de una carcajada, otros me han abierto los ojos de par en par.
Muy recomendable.
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