At Home by Bill Bryson
Posted by Caitie F on September 15, 2012
Summary from goodreads:
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.
While this is not a fast read at all, it IS a fascinating read. It took me about two months to read this, and I usually read at most ten pages at a time. There was just so much information in this book that any more than that and I could not get much out of the book. That is probably not true for everyone, but I usually feel like that when I read nonfiction books, especially ones that have so much in them! I want to read his other book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, but that would probably take me veen longer!
Bryson has such an engaging style and has a way to talk about history in a fun way. This book really had so many things that I wondered about. You wouldn’t think the history of the toilet could possibly be anything but boring…but it was! There is also the history of clothing, the hallway, and so many other things we see every single day!
I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys finding out about history that they probably never heard before. But be warned, you will want to share the cool knowledge you learn with others and they may get a little annoyed!