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

At Home

I have long been a fan of Bill Bryson.  His wry humor and fascination with history, humans and science, have earned a place on my bookshelves as part of my permanent collection.  At Home did not disappoint.  In fact, it ranks right up there with my all time Bryson favorite, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Finding himself living in a Victorian parsonage, Bryson examines the history of our living condition, room by room.  That’s not to say it’s an in-depth look at how, say, the closet came into being; but rather a vicarious examination of whatever popped into Bryson’s mind when he pondered both history and the room at the same time.  For instance, we learn about food preparation, spices and dining tools when visiting the dining room.  A trip to the drawing room elicits a discussion about architecture.

I have to admit, Bryson’s topics were not what I expected.  As a woman, I naturally think of social changes and technological innovations that changed the way we live – like educating women and the washing machine.  But then again, Bill Bryson is a man, and one with a keen interest in science.  It shouldn’t have surprised me he chose topics he was interested in.  Luckily for me, I found them fascinating, too.  And of course, Bryson doesn’t just make them interesting, he injects quite of bit of that wonderful wit as well.

4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2010
497 pages


About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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