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

    The largest number of people ever to be indoors at a single location is 92,000, at the Great Exhibition in 1851 [p50]. Clergymen sometimes preached against the potato since it does not appear in the Bible [p131]. Families used to move between their various properties a lot, requiring furniture to be portable, so chests and trunks usually had domed lids in order to throw off water during travel [p86]. The aspidestra features prominently in Victorian photographs because it was the only flower which was immune to the effects of the gas which leaked from the lights [p184]. The diamond pattern of different coloured bricks used for decoration in a wall is called a diaper, from which the baby's undergarment originally made from linen threads woven in a diamond pattern gets its name [p291]. Rats have sex up to twenty times a day [p348]. The first person in America to slice potatoes lengthwise and fry them was Thomas Jefferson [p126]. The expression sleep tight comes from the requirement to tighten the supporting lattice of ropes in a bed when they began to sag [p456]. Buttons under the sleeve near the cuff of a jacket are the last relic of a fashion for attaching (useless) buttons in decorative patterns all over a coat [p538]. In the face of objections to run a railway line through the middle of Stonehenge in the 19th century, an official pointed out that the site was entirely out of repair, and not the slightest use to anyone now [p615].These are just a few of the interesting facts you'll learn (along with a few things you probably already knew such as why British people are known as 'limeys') from this book. It's ostensibly inspired by the author wandering through the rooms of his house hall, kitchen, dining room, bedroom and many (it's a big house) and using each location as a starting point for burrowing back in time, unearthing anecdotes, facts and biographies of personalities who contributed to making our world the way it is, and presenting them in his characteristic, pleasantly familiar discursive style.Sometimes the connections between the location and the story appear tenuous: for example, the (truly fascinating) story of the building of the Eiffel Tower arises when in the passage between the kitchen and the rest of the house, as does an account of the inventions and character of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. In other places the link is explicit: thus, visiting the bathroom brings forth a history of ablution, cleanliness and disease particularly smallpox, which I (yet again) didn't know was named to distinguish it from the great pox, or syphilis.Bryson has a teacher's gift for telling you things you didn't know (or want to know, such as infant mortality rates, or that flushing a toilet with the lid up spews billions of microbes into the air) in an engaging fashion. His writing here lacks much of the humour which is on show in his other books, probably because that's usually employed in describing himself in a self deprecating fashion, or his encounters with other people. Here, the author stays in the background, gently pointing out one intriguing vista after another. To be sure, not all discourses are successful, but it's a big book (belying its title) with a well stocked bibliography and index, indicating the breadth and depth of the author's homework (hah!). Recommended. At Home: A Short History of Private Life Este me parece uno de los mejores libros de Bryson. Es sorprendente la cantidad de información contenida en el libro y, como de costumbre, el estilo es sumamente ameno. At Home: A Short History of Private Life The title of this book is too limiting. 'At Home And All Over The Place' would have been accurate. So if you are expecting a book which concentrates in an academic way on the development of the home over the centuries, then you'll be sorely disappointed. But what the hell it's an interesting read and written in Bryson's usual engaging style. Did I learn anything? Yes, lots of things. Will I remember most of the things I learned? Nope. Is the book worth buying? Yes, if you want to while away a happy hour or three.. And that's good enough for me. At Home: A Short History of Private Life I've always enjoyed Bill Bryson's writings.. He can make the unlikeliest subjects not just interesting but fascinating. This book is no exception, being packed with the sort of facts that make you want to repeat them to everyone you know (and probably turn into a first class bore!) such as the origins of the names of various parts of the house (did you know that 'pantry' comes from the French word for bread?) and the fact that the hall was once the most important part of a house.The book is well laid out and goes through the history of the home room by room. But than that is also covers lifestyles though the ages, including a chapter about the sad, strenuous life endured by servants. There are numerous 'potted biographies' of people famous, infamous and almost anonymous, who helped shape our way of life, whether landscape gardeners, engineers or inventors.But what makes the book areal delight is Bryson's literary style, full of humour and with his own personal touches. It's like being in the presence of an old friend who has a lot to say.The whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, an entertaining, compulsive read. At Home: A Short History of Private Life At Home; a short history of private life. (Bill Bryson)I never cease to be amazed at the vast range of Bill Bryson’s sources, or the depth and intensity of his research. Here, once again, he has delved deeply into the minute histories behind the growth and development of every room in the house, his starting point being his own home in Norfolk, which set out as a Rectory, and is still so called.His revelations cover centuries of discoveries and inventions, as well as the lives, loves, highs and lows, and extremes of character of those responsible for them. To describe this book as less than utterly riveting would be doing it an injustice. At Home: A Short History of Private Life

    In these pages the beloved 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 inuisitive minds on the planet and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life In these pages, the beloved 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.

    In these pages, the beloved 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.

    At Home: A Short History of Private Life

    This may be my last Bill Bryson read (and have read several) and I am giving up on the book after 400 hundred pages and with 200 to go. For me it might have been a book called 'Hooks and Digressions'. Bill Bryson has greased facility in gathering information and shaping it for his retelling. He I'd rather something directly related to the subject than may of 'orbital' stories. Some are fine truly but too many are not. It may be that there is an acceptance that his are the kind of books to take away as a holiday read, or something for when you are in isolation with nothing else to read (or you need to get off to sleep). And, by the way, his take on bats will need some post Covid 19 revision. Disappointed and annoyed that I did not want to see the book to the end. It will be donated to my usual charity shop. At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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