Did you know the historical significance of having a front or back lawn? How about what early lawnmowers looked like? Do you know the bloodied history of how salt and pepper became an everyday flavor-enhancer? How about the number of tines on your fork?
You may never have thought about these things, and yet it's the kind of stuff that makes you think. Bryson's master craftmanship as a storyteller, infromation-gatherer and fact-provider makes him uniquely qualified to tackle a subject as big as your house.
One of his reviewers once said that Bryson could write about dryer lint and make it interesting. While I don't recall specific mention of the stuff in this book, it doesn't matter. Bryson can (and does) write about forks and napkins and make it interesting.
If you have any desire to learn anything about what you take for granted day in and day out, definitely get yourself a copy of this book immediately!
Harvey Beute, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Harvey Beute)
This was almost like taking a college course in history. An easy read, jammed full of facts (Almost too many), but lots of triva one can use to amaze frineds and people in the bar.
jksquires, July 5, 2012 (view all comments by jksquires)
This is the first Bryson book I've read and now I want to devour all of his books. The scope of his knowledge is incredible, and he tells the story of the ordinary with so much humor, historical perspective and great narrative style, I'm ready to start in on his complete catalog of books. I'm recommending "At Home" to all my friends--because it truly offers something for everyone.
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punknmusher, January 15, 2012 (view all comments by punknmusher)
First of all I must say that Bill Bryson is absolutely our favorite writer ever. The fact that Bill is so naturally witty and that he studies his subjects in such great depth creates more of a humorous allure and authentacy to his writings. His work draws you in with such a depth that you feel as though you are with him in his adventures. We love all of Bills work and were very pleasantly pleased again with his most recent, "At Home". We have "At Home" in audio, as well as hard back, and have listened to the CDs intently several times over. Superb!!! Thank you Mr. Bryson!!!!!!! We are ready for more.
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There is nothing on this planet that Bryson cannot make fascinating. In his hands, exploring the minutiae of his house becomes an adventure. (Granted, his house is a Victorian vicarage in Norfolk, England.) At Home is a joyful, chatty dip into the history of everyday life.
by Tracey T.
Bill Bryson could make paint drying seem utterly fascinating. In his own house, a former parsonage in a tiny village in England, Bryson is perplexed by the attributes (and non-attributes) he finds there. There are no stairs up to the attic, but what is up there is a beautifully finished door to...nowhere. So starts Bryson's quest to discover all things homey. The original reason people started living in houses, the immensity London's sewer system, America's love of ice, your fuse box, Jefferson's Monticello, the cholera epidemic, Thomas Chippendale, life without light, poisonous wallpaper, the seasonings on your dining table — it's all in there. Bryson's amazing mind and intelligent wit will completely win you over.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Bryson (A Short History of Everything) takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, and finds it crammed with 10,000 years of fascinating historical bric-a-brac. Each room becomes a starting point for a free-ranging discussion of rarely noticed but foundational aspects of social life. A visit to the kitchen prompts disquisitions on food adulteration and gluttony; a peek into the bedroom reveals nutty sex nostrums and the horrors of premodern surgery; in the study we find rats and locusts; a stop in the scullery illuminates the put-upon lives of servants. Bryson follows his inquisitiveness wherever it goes, from Darwinian evolution to the invention of the lawnmower, while savoring eccentric characters and untoward events (like Queen Elizabeth I's pilfering of a subject's silverware). There are many guilty pleasures, from Bryson's droll prose — 'What really turned the Victorians to bathing, however, was the realization that it could be gloriously punishing' — to the many tantalizing glimpses behind closed doors at aristocratic English country houses. 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by Miami Herald,
"At Home is a great survey of how we reached our current state and a valuable reminder of how recent that state is....This book is a wide-ranging but unflaggingly fascinating chronicle."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"In a sense, Bryson's book is a history of 'getting comfortable slowly,'....Informative, readable and great fun."
"A beautifully written ode to the ordinary and overlooked things of everyday life in the home."
by Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review,
"Fascinating....Bryson is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious...[his] enthusiasm brightens any dull corner....You'll be given a delightful smattering of information about everything but...the kitchen sink."
by People magazine,
"[D]elightful....Considering our homes means a dash through history, politics, science, sex, and dozens of other fields. If this book doesn't supply you with five years' worth of dinner conversation, you're not paying attention."
From beloved author Bryson comes a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place people call home.
With his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room-by-room tour through his own house, using each room as a jumping off point into 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.
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