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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors



Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
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At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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At Home: A Short History of Private Life Cover

ISBN13: 9780767919395
ISBN10: 0767919394
Condition: Standard
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Brenda Troisi, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Brenda Troisi)
Fabulous read. Using his old, English vicarage as the jumping off point, Bryson walks the reader through fascinating historical details about all sorts of things such as toilets, the crystal palace, and daily diets in Victorian era (servants couldn't be forced to eat lobster more than once a week!). He sets the stage describing the era the house was built, it's setting, and the then (enviable) situation of English vicars (salaried for life with no real responsibilities). Then each room provides an opportunity to riff on related information. Bryson imparts it all in a very readable fashion, illuminating connections between so many of the seemingly disparate topics.
Was a great book-on-tape for the car. It appealed to both us baby-boomers, our late teen children, and my parents. 10 months later I'm giving it for Xmas gifts.

Great choice!
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
dr.srader, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by dr.srader)
My favorite book of 2011, and my choice for the Puddly. I loved A Brief History of Everything, but I listened to the audiobook version during a cross-continent drive, and wasn't sure Bryson would be as good on paper. I worried he'd drag. Foolishness. It was hard putting it down! Fascinating bit after fascinating bit. A feast.
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Lynne Williams, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Lynne Williams)
What a book! Funny, curious, wry, engaging. Illuminated the outer world by casting light on the "inside"---of a house. Readable and of course, well-written. Highly recommended.....and I want to read all Bill Bryson's books.
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SCookuie, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by SCookuie)
I found so many insights into history in this enjoyable book. Bill Bryson guides the reader through his house and the world and the history of the world.
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jsh, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by jsh)
I found this book to be informative and entertaining. A good non-fiction choice.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780767919395
Author:
Bryson, Bill
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
Domestic
Subject:
Architecture-Houses
Subject:
Home Construction-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20111031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
7.94 x 5.2 x 1.16 in 1.2 lb

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At Home: A Short History of Private Life Used Trade Paper
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Product details 592 pages Anchor Books - English 9780767919395 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Staff Pick" by ,

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 , "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)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "In a sense, Bryson's book is a history of 'getting comfortable slowly,'....Informative, readable and great fun."
"Review" by , "A beautifully written ode to the ordinary and overlooked things of everyday life in the home."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Synopsis" by , From beloved author Bryson comes a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place people call home.
"Synopsis" by , 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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