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

At Home is a sure bet for diehard Bill Bryson fans and those who love anecdotal history – dive right in.  It’s a rambling but always entertaining collection of musings about the human idea we call the home.  

Bryson’s loose focus is his home itself – a two-story former rectory in England.  He bases each chapter on a particular room or area of the house, and takes us on a breathless journey through the inventions and developments through the centuries that have produced the specifics of each room.  Or does he…

It is very easy to lose oneself in this book.  Come to think about it, it’s very easy to forget what a particular chapter is about when reading it.  Perhaps that is the sheer joy of Bill Bryson’s writing – his writing style is such that the reader probably won’t care that he/she has been carried away to the farthest shores of the unknown in a chapter called “The Plum Room.”   Bryson is chatty, snarky, a bit naughty, always a hoot, and he gives a new meaning to “historical tidbits.” 

Other books to consider:

 I would recommend The Discovers and The Creators by Daniel Boorstin for great examples of far-flung but very readable history.  Another good read about the concept of the family home is Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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