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Looking for a new book but don t want to commit Check out my latest BooktTube Video One Done all about fabulous standalones Now that you know this one made the list check out the video to see the rest The Written Review The things that were a thing back in the day boggles my mind Even though sugar was very expensive, people consumed it till their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn t turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealt Looking for a new book but don t want to commit Check out my latest BooktTube Video One Done all about fabulous standalones Now that you know this one made the list check out the video to see the rest The Written Review The things that were a thing back in the day boggles my mind Even though sugar was very expensive, people consumed it till their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn t turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealthy and marvelously self indulgent they were Bill Bryson goes from room to room in an ordinary house and asks questions Questions that have never and will never think to ask Why do we have four walls How did doorways get invented When did people start eating in the kitchen Where do dining tables originate The dining table was a plain board called by that name It was hung on the wall when not in use, and was perched on the diners knees when food was served Over time, the word board came to signify not just the dining surface but the meal itself, which is where the board comes from in room and board It also explains why lodgers are called boarders You see It s just fascinating so, so many unasked questions and fabulously researched answers This book is just chock full of tangents often leading down rabbit holes to equally interesting topics Pantaloons were often worn tight as paint and were not a great deal less revealing, particularly as they were worn without underwear Jackets were tailored with tails in the back, but were cut away in front so that they perfectly framed the groin It was the first time in history that men s apparel was consciously designed to besexy than women s Highly, highly recommended for a fun read that will have you looking twice at everything in your house All my unasked questions are now answered It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before Audiobook commentsExcellent to listen to I felt like the reader was just as excited as I was YouTube Blog Instagram Twitter Snapchat miranda.reads Happy Reading I have a brain crush on Bill Bryson I find his books entertaining, insightful and delightfully humorous At Home did not disappoint, giving a fascinating, rambling, Everything But the Kitchen Sink view of world history.The book is structured into chapters based on the different parts of a house, such as the kitchen, the drawing room, the cellar, the bedroom, etc In the introduction, Bryson explains that he and his wife moved into a former church rectory in a village in eastern England, and s I have a brain crush on Bill Bryson I find his books entertaining, insightful and delightfully humorous At Home did not disappoint, giving a fascinating, rambling, Everything But the Kitchen Sink view of world history.The book is structured into chapters based on the different parts of a house, such as the kitchen, the drawing room, the cellar, the bedroom, etc In the introduction, Bryson explains that he and his wife moved into a former church rectory in a village in eastern England, and some odd quirks of the Victorian house piqued his interest Soon he was investigating why things are the way they are, and he shares some interesting stories of yesteryear For example, why are salt and pepper the two main spices on a dining table How was cement discovered Who decided how stairs should be sized When was the fuse box created Why is there a telephone in the hallway And on and on, covering dozens of inventions and events.One of the many things I liked about this book was the wide variety of topics discussed and how briskly Bryson moves through them If he hits a subject you don t care for or one that you already know about, just wait a few minutes and he ll move on to something else For example, during the chapter on the bathroom he discusses various cholera epidemics in England and who figured out that contaminated water was the problem, which is a subject I m familiar with having read the excellent book The Ghost Map So I waited patiently for Bryson to summarize the cholera info, and very soon he was on to discussing how London s sewer system was developed Brilliant The book is wonderfully well written as all Bryson books are and to try and pull good quotes is an exercise in retyping most of the text But here are a few tidbits It was unquestionably a strange world Servants constituted a class of humans whose existences were fundamentally devoted to making certain that another class of humans would find everything they desired within arm s reachor less the moment it occurred to them to desire it from The Scullery and Larder Salt is now so ubiquitous and cheap that we forget how intensely desirable it once was, but for much of history it drove men to the edge of the world from The Dining Room To the unending exasperation of the Chinese authorities, Britain became particularly skilled at persuading Chinese citizens to become opium addicts university courses in the history of marketing really ought to begin with British opium sales so much so that by 1838 Britain was selling almost five million pounds of opium to China every year from The Dining Room The real problem with beds, certainly by the Victorian period, was that they were inseparable from that most troublesome of activities, sex To avoid arousal, women were instructed to get plenty of fresh air, avoid stimulating pastimes like reading and card games, and above all never to use their brainsthan was strictly necessary from The Bedroom So Whitney s cotton gin not only helped make many people rich on both sides of the Atlantic but also reinvigorated slavery, turned child labor into a necessity, and paved the way for the American Civil War Perhaps at no other time in history has someone with a simple, well meaning invention generatedgeneral prosperity, personal disappointment, and inadvertent suffering than Eli Whitney with his gin from The Dressing Room And on the first time that someone successfully drilled for oil in 1859 Although no one remotely appreciated it at the time, they had just changed the world completely and forever from The Fuse Box I listened to At Home on audiobook, but I was glad to also have a print copy available to flip through because the printed book contains numerous photos and drawings of things referenced in the text, such as the Stone Age structure of Skara Brae, the famous Crystal Palace in 1851, the Eiffel Tower under construction, and Thomas Jefferson s Monticello home There is also an impressive list of references for anyone who wants to do further research This was the first time I ve heard Bryson s voice He is from my home state of Iowa which has been humorously discussed in several of his books , but he has lived in England for so long that he s developed a charming accent Bryson is a marvelous narrator and I hope to listen to his other books on audio, even ones I ve read before.I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a whimsical look at history If Bill Bryson and Sarah Vowell wrote all the history texts, and Mary Roach wrote all the science texts, our society would beeducated and amused than anywhere on earth I want to say that this book was a greatly informative text on the history of sanitation, architecture, anglo saxon culture, farming, growth of cities, and society in general, but I m afraid that would put you off This is the story of his house in England He takes us through each room discussing the history, scientific br If Bill Bryson and Sarah Vowell wrote all the history texts, and Mary Roach wrote all the science texts, our society would beeducated and amused than anywhere on earth I want to say that this book was a greatly informative text on the history of sanitation, architecture, anglo saxon culture, farming, growth of cities, and society in general, but I m afraid that would put you off This is the story of his house in England He takes us through each room discussing the history, scientific breakthroughs, and characters that helped create it Through this device, we learn the history of English and American culture and everyday life Bryson is such an entertaining and knowledgeable writer that he informs while amusing us He tells the stories of numerous inventors and craftsmen that are important but obscure He tells those fascinating incidents that make us laugh and ponder how we got to where we are today I learnedfrom this book than I did from a year s worth of history classes in college He is even a good reader the audiobook is narrated by him and is often laugh out loud funny Reading the book is laugh out loud funny too More miraculously, he is the only author that both Rick and I read and agree on Let me preface this review by saying that, yes, I am a fan of Bill Bryson and I love history books At Home is not Bryson s best work Its loosely organized premise a room by room history of everyday life and everyday objects feels overly contrived and, in practice, makes for a rather clumsy and wandering book I could only put up with a very little bit at a time It took me a month to finish.Nevertheless, I m glad I read it There are sundry interesting factoids to be had here, and you ll be a Let me preface this review by saying that, yes, I am a fan of Bill Bryson and I love history books At Home is not Bryson s best work Its loosely organized premise a room by room history of everyday life and everyday objects feels overly contrived and, in practice, makes for a rather clumsy and wandering book I could only put up with a very little bit at a time It took me a month to finish.Nevertheless, I m glad I read it There are sundry interesting factoids to be had here, and you ll be amazed at some of the surprising stories behind the development of modern life I couldn t help but read some passages aloud to my husband, and there s plenty of Did you know ammunition here to keep you stocked for many dinner parties to come In all honesty, this IS a book I would go back and read again.If you love Bryson, you ll be willing to put up with his meandering style, in return for his charming and congenial brand of storytelling In lesser hands than his, this book would be completely dry and dull Though it s also likely no publisher would publish a book like this if not for Bill Bryson If you ve not read Bryson before, don t let this book be your first Start instead with one of his many travel essay books or his childhood memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid He s much better there Reading this book is rather like having a trivia buff give you a sixteen hour, cocaine fueled tour of his house It is exhilarating, exhausting, and often alarming. This is a very hard book to categorize Ostensibly, it s a description of the author s home in England, but that really doesn t cover it All I could think of as I was reading it was a great conversation If we went to his home an English parsonage built in 1851 for dinner we would, of course, talk about the house, but like all really great conversation the talk would ramble off in every direction with stories that had nothing to do with this particular house or houses in general for that ma This is a very hard book to categorize Ostensibly, it s a description of the author s home in England, but that really doesn t cover it All I could think of as I was reading it was a great conversation If we went to his home an English parsonage built in 1851 for dinner we would, of course, talk about the house, but like all really great conversation the talk would ramble off in every direction with stories that had nothing to do with this particular house or houses in general for that matter only to touch base again and ramble of in another direction That a discussion of English parsonages could cover the building of the Erie canal and the use of children in coal mines is not something usually found in history books but can be found in a great dinner conversation The fact that it is so rambling and disjointed caused one reviewer onto give it a one star rating Poor man He missed the point Try a littlewine and enjoy the conversation I loved the book Bryson brings us another fascinating tome filled with delightful trivia and anecdotes in this history of housing in Britain The hall as we know it today is a place to leave the muddy boots and hang coats Originally, it was the whole house With an open hearth in the middle and members of the family this included slaves and servants since the one large room made everyone party of the unit congregating around it, little was private and everyone shared in the heat or lack thereof The inv Bryson brings us another fascinating tome filled with delightful trivia and anecdotes in this history of housing in Britain The hall as we know it today is a place to leave the muddy boots and hang coats Originally, it was the whole house With an open hearth in the middle and members of the family this included slaves and servants since the one large room made everyone party of the unit congregating around it, little was private and everyone shared in the heat or lack thereof The invention of the chimney and fireplace in the early 14th century changed all that Now private spaces could be created including an upstairs and separate rooms from which lesser members of the unit could be excluded Sometimes fireplaces were built big enough to have seats in them since they radiated much less heat than the open hearth On the other hand, smoke collecting on the ceiling would prevent birds from nesting there and many people complained that without the smoke they weresubject to ill health.Bryson, as is his wont and to my delight, wanders all over the place His section on food, the politics and reality of adulteration, and the early methods for saving and transporting ice are simply fascinating Lots of delectable trivia regarding eating habits and what they ate The 18th century was notoriously gluttonous Queen Anne got so fat she couldn t walk upstairs and had to be lowered and raised through a trapdoor in the floor That must have been a sight And they ate foods we would never consider eating and sometimes vice versa Lobster was considered such trash food that it was often written into agreements with servants they would not be served itthan twice a week, and in Massachusetts it was forbidden to serve it to prisoners On the other hand in America Sturgeon was so plentiful that caviar was laid out on bars as snack food.The relationship between servants and upper crust is detailed enough to provide a useful companion to Gosford Park It s perhaps ironic that servants might be said to really run the place and the tipping required of guests could make a weekend visit to the manor expensive indeed Servants in America had aegalitarian position except in the South where slavery predominated It was pretty much abolished in the North after 1827 The presence of servants and slaves had an effect on inventiveness and northern America was particularly adept at developing labor saving devices although it must be noted that most of the labor saved was that done by men, some of the devices even increasing the workload of women Electricity was to change all of that, and by WWI when blackout restrictions were vigorously enforced, people soon realized how accustomed they had become to having some ambient light at night Cars were forbidden from even having dash lights so moving about at night became a distinct hazard Bryson notes that during the first year of the war some 4000 people were killed in traffic accidents, a 100% increase over the previous year and the Germans, without dropping a bomb, were killing Britons at the rate of 600 per month.This book serves as a welcome antidote to those of us suffering from a delusional nostalgia for the past when the society we yearn for existed only among the rich the rest dying young from numerous diseases we no longer even recognize, or working at laborious twelve hour jobs for miserable pay, and having nothing to show for it.One of the most interesting sections dealt with the hazards of paint and wallpaper I had no idea Apparently, wallpaper was filled with toxic chemicals including a form of arsenic and moving a patient outside to fresher air had real benefits It was noted early on that rooms with wallpaper had no bedbugs for good reason Paint, as we now know, was also filled with noxious toxins and vivid, bright colors were prized, unlike the muted pastels we seem to favor today.The temptation when reading such a book is to fill one s review with delectable tidbits of trivia, a temptation to which I usually succumb.And, by the way, Thomas Jefferson created the french fry There are quite a few people I know and respect that don t really like Bill Bryson I ve never quite understood why not I m actually very fond of his writing and from this distance I even tend to think he has the perfect life I mean, you would think that the word dilettante or perhaps autodidact had been created just for him Wouldn t you love to have the time to think to yourself, gosh, I wonder how houses first came to be as they are and then to spend, I don t know, a year two years There are quite a few people I know and respect that don t really like Bill Bryson I ve never quite understood why not I m actually very fond of his writing and from this distance I even tend to think he has the perfect life I mean, you would think that the word dilettante or perhaps autodidact had been created just for him Wouldn t you love to have the time to think to yourself, gosh, I wonder how houses first came to be as they are and then to spend, I don t know, a year two years finding out Then once you have found out to write down all of youramusing titbits in an engaging book Does it really get better than that I ve been known to complain about what I call whiteboard books before These are the kinds of books that are written on a topic that has popped into someone s head say, potatoes and first they go to a whiteboard and draw a huge mindmap and then ardently fill in all the gaps although, sometimes ardent isn t quite the right adjective, the resulting meal having too much of the texture of bran Generally, these books need a unifying theme in the case of this book a walk around the person s house, or in say Atlantic Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories the seven ages of man These unifying frames often don t quite work the whole way though the book, the frame struggles to contain all of the picture and if I had one criticism of this book it was that there were quite a few times when I thought, hang on, which room are we supposed to be in again Why is he talking about this in the passage But the truth is that you need toor less put the organising scheme out of your mind when you read these kinds of books otherwise that way madness lies and just take these books as being a kind of ideal dinner party with someone chatting away amusingly and knowledgeably about things it would be hard not to find interesting That is, the kind of dinner party you might wish you actually got invited too Which really must be one of the great benefits of books.I think we don t actually read just to know we are not alone we read to spend time with people being at their best behaviour and trying hard to be at their most interesting Few people can really sustain this for an entire book Bryson has proven able to sustain it throughout many, many volumes.The part of this book I found the most interesting was right towards the end where he does his best to dispel the myth that childhood is a very recent invention and that parents loving their children is likewise a modern idea brought about by the remarkable drop in infant mortality the last hundred years have brought about The idea that people couldn t afford to love their children because their subsequent dying in infancy would be too painful for them to allow such affection can almost seem to make sense in a strange sort of way However, I think he makes it clear that, really, such a view is pretty well counter to all of the evidence This is a book where someone wanders about picking up interesting bits and pieces that initially might seem quite commonplace and then explaining just what it is that makes them quite so interesting It is light read, but never slight, and just often enough makes you smile or laugh or gasp in revulsion in that way everyone enjoys This was lots of fun and well worth the read {READ PDF} ì At Home: A Short History of Private Life ⚦ 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 front flap Well that wasn t very at home at all, quite frankly But hey, it was still good In At Home A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson, that transient American Brit, is in England for this look at the house, that thing humans use to keep the rain off their heads If you ve ever gone out for a drive you ve probably seen one Using the house he bought in the Norfolk area of England northeast of London , Bryson takes us for a lengthy and meandering tour of each room of the standard home from th Well that wasn t very at home at all, quite frankly But hey, it was still good In At Home A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson, that transient American Brit, is in England for this look at the house, that thing humans use to keep the rain off their heads If you ve ever gone out for a drive you ve probably seen one Using the house he bought in the Norfolk area of England northeast of London , Bryson takes us for a lengthy and meandering tour of each room of the standard home from the cellar to the attic He also details a few different styles of homes over time and takes in a good deal of history in the bargainWestern history that is, and most of that is specific to the UK and US The function, usage, transformation andof each room is described, occasionally exhaustively Tangents ensue often and are sometimes longwinded For instance, while discussing the bedroom Bryson goes beyond sex and sleeping, getting on to the topics of surgical practices and the Plague among other things As luck would have it, I m the sort of person who loves facts, factoids, tidbits, walking encyclopedias, and brainiacs When someone starts a sentence with Did you know , I m the guy pulling my chair up closer I am Bryson s perfect audience Not everyone is, so I expect quite a few readers would be annoyed by the writer s wandering ways, especially house lovers who aren t necessarily interested in Samuel Pepys extramarital affairs and who just want to focus on the bloody house for the love of Frank Lloyd Wright However, even I have my limits and this is probably my least favorite Bryson book so far, but that s not to say it s bad It s quite good and I really enjoyed it The thing is, I REALLY enjoyed the other books of his I ve read so far and this one lacks the joy and exuberance of the others RATING 3.5