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Showing 1-10 of 697 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 998 reviews
on May 11, 2017
I am really enjoying this book though I find I am forgetting what I've read almost as soon as I have read it! That is because there is SO much information in here! I enjoy Mr. Brysons writing, it is like listening to a charming and well read friend. If ind I prefer to own his books (rather than borrow from the library) so that I can jump in and out of the conversation or refer back to them. This one in particular is crammed full of the intriguing histories of all sorts of unnoticed daily spaces and objects. I feel as if I know my ancestors better after reading and therefore know myself a bit more. Quite a nice book if you like this sort of thing!
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on February 25, 2015
I came on Bill Bryson a few weeks ago, never having heard of him previously. Just took a 'punt' that the book I chose would be readable. I couldn't put it down, once I started. When reading, I was constantly smiling and laughing ,(Even though there's plenty of 'serious' stuff in his books) which my wife found intriguing, since it's not something I normally do!
Bill has a wonderful way of writing; quite unique and down to earth. He also has a amazing command of the English language, to my never ending delight. So far, I have read five of the books he has written -every one enjoyable in different ways. I intend to read every one he has ever written.
"At Home. A short history of private life" is also an amazing book. In spite of the fact there is a lot of history within it's pages, it is so very readable and enjoyable. I feel as though I know Bill personally; I'm sure I would enjoy being around him. I cannot commend him highly enough. You cannot help but become enriched through reading any of his books. What a guy!!!
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on July 28, 2013
My expectations were that Mr. Bryson's book would cover different household items and traditions, but I was clearly mistaken. Each room that he investigates in his home is more a launching pad to cover topics that only remotely apply to the rooms. Darwin's theory of evolution, penile pricking rings, Otzi the Iceman, and rodents' qualities are but a few examples of odd tangents. Mercy, the man is all over the place in this thing but no matter. The information was still interesting. There are nineteen chapters covering from the building of his home in 1851 to the kitchen, the study, the dining room, the stairs, the cellar, the garden, the bedroom, the garden, and so on and so on until the author finishes up in the attic.

Mr. Bryson's playful curiosity about the world around him is infectious. Some topics, such as the bathroom and the difficulties of waste management prior to water treatment facilities made me queasy. I'll never complain about cleaning our toilets ever again. That's for sure. Ultimately, the book is chock full of many home qualities that we never or rarely wonder how they came into being. He also focuses a great deal of time on the oodles of lunatic Victorian mores that make me darned happy to be living in our more enlightened age. Heck, the whole book makes me happy that we have electricity, indoor plumbing, advanced medicine, mattresses, bathing and less draconian social services for the destitute.

'At Home' is not as entertaining as Mr. Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods' but more informative. It is light reading, full of fun facts and an occasional dry sarcastic remark which always made me chuckle. If you're interested in something other than a murder mystery, science fiction, romance or whatnot then the author's easy-to-read book is a nice way to kill a few hours.
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on July 16, 2016
Bill Bryson never disappoints and this book is no exception. I read it several years ago, recommending it to everyone I knew. Such fascinating material for him to work with and he works with all material so well. When I saw it was available in an audio book I decided to buy it for an upcoming drive from Florida to New England. We enjoyed it very much. Nothing personal to the author but I know he's an American so I did find his British "ness" terminology a bit annoying. Having lived overseas for many years and knowing many people taught in British English, I full well know how easy it is to pick up their interesting terminology, still I found it somewhat difficult to put up with coming from a mostly American accent. . Overall though I enjoyed the audio version and I recommend it and the book itself highly.
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on June 11, 2015
Well, first of all let me say this, this is one long read!
Once again this is one of those Bryson compilations containing so many, "I didn't know that!", facts that there is no way I can remember them, no matter how hard I try. Mr. Bryson is my favorite author. Here he takes you on a tour of his historic home and describes the history of houses and how each room came to be. He goes into great detail about how people lived long ago, and believe me it is an eye opener. If you think that living the life of Royalty in a castle would be wonderful, you'll change your mind after reading this book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know about ancient social development, how common folks lived day to day. There is a lot of funny stuff here too. Silly things that happened and silly people that caused them to happen. You'll smile a lot.
Thank you Bill Bryson for another hit.
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Bryson hits another out of the park. Information about our homes that is very interesting and mostly unknown in today's world. It is guaranteed that you will learn things about our homes that you did not know.
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on September 17, 2016
This very well written book takes the reader on a journey through history using the metaphor of home and domesticity. While the topics and figures encountered range in time, scale, and scope, taken together they paint a comprehensive picture of the amazing changes that occurred during the 19th century. As a reader, I was reminded of things I'd learned before and inspired to research more about new ones.
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on January 31, 2016
I love reading books, I have a ritualistic approach. I have certain times of day when I either sit down with a cup of tea in the back yard or when I go to bed, I love to finish my day with a read. It relaxes me. But I did find that, oddly, I wasn't quite as enthused as I have been with his others. I have been a fan since I read my first, 'Notes From a Small Island'.
I gave this book four stars because of that. In truth though I would love to give it 4 1/2. It is still a great and very entertaining read, The authors dry humour spills through the chapters and his details are fascinating for a trivia obsessive like myself. I still recommend it as his four and a half stars would be well above most other writers of this ilk.
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on November 6, 2013
The most unintentionally subversive book ever written. On the surface, Bill Bryson sets out to uncover the origins of everyday ordinary items we find around the modern home and the rooms themselves. What he achieves is opening closet after closet to reveal the repulsive skeletons hidden deep in the history of humanity. Everyone imagines that in previous lives, they were royalty or something rather special or wealthy or talented, but fact is, 99% of people were peasants, servants, and slaves. They were grunts toiling in filth and disease, polluted by nonsensical myths and beliefs, oppressed by a shameless ruling class, often starved, often sent off to wars to die or become hideously maimed. Countless women were raped and he states at one point, a third were servants and a third were whores. The rich were vulgar and classless and cruel. The peasants, well, they were all stupid, uneducated, and dirty. For quite some time Europeans thought water carried germs, so they never bathed. The Native Americans thought they stunk like pigs. I mean who the heck spits into ones handkerchief and then stuffs it back into one's pocket but a filthy pig! Swine. The 99 percenters in America protest that the 1% don't care and they're ruthlessly corrupt and indifferent to the suffering of the other 99%. Well, guess what? If you're an average American, you're in the top 1% of the world, so when's the last time you noticed a working class American open his wallet book for some poor peasant in Pakistan, Kenya, or Indonesia??? If you went back in time, a statistician would bet you would wind up being in the 99%, a peasant, but worse than today, because back then, without the development of media, the rich could do whatever they wanted with the peasants including all their children, and the peasants were lucky enough to live to adulthood with all the disease, war, filth, stress, and starvation. Over a million Irish died during the potato famine yet Bryson notes, the Irish were EXPORTING food to England! Irish nobles were making money while their peasants died! Unfortunately, Bryson seems peculiarly obtuse. He finds it puzzling that some accounts led you to believe there was ample foods to eat, all types of meats, yet on another account, they eat 90% potato and infrequently cheese and some meats. Uh, hello Bryson! The rich ate well, the poor ate empty starches!!!

There are countless trivial things about how things came to be like the way we call the President's close advisors, his Cabinet because the Cabinet was the private room for private affairs. But the true gem to this book is showing off how absolutely disgusting and horrible life was back in the day. People would piss and vomit on their flooring and leave it there and only clean it out twice a year. Ever smelled a homeless person? That's how 99% of the people smelled back then. 99% of literature in human history has glossed all this over with art and drama and adventure and ideas. Yet life, remember is not the 1% of romance and adventure, the courtship and kissing and killing but the 99% of sitting on the toilet, washing your feet, clipping your toenails, washing dishes, cleaning the floor, etc. Bryson has uncovered the 99% of human history that is the dirty, boring, oppressive, horrible, banal suffering and peasant bullsh t. This is reality. It's not pretty, and this subversive big book uncovers all that is inhumane, uncivilized, banal, oppressive, and disgusting about the human race. Civilization tells us that without it, we would be savages. Bof! We were more civil before civilization turned us into wretched delusional savages.
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on October 6, 2014
I am a big fan of everything Bill Bryson has written and this book was no exception. He can make anything interesting and funny. This is a look at our homes and how they have taken on the form they have today. In the process he discusses the history of all sorts of mundane things that become fascinating facts under the pen of Mr. Bryson. One of the weirder things I remember is the idea of how many people are buried in the average English churchyard. It's an incredibly large number. How burying all these people has raised the earth up many feet over hundreds and hundreds of years. Its macabre but you have to admit that's pretty interesting. I don't remember how this fit into the story of the home, but then that's often the way his books are.
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