At Home by Bill Bryson
A Short History of Private Life

69%

18 Critic Reviews

Sharp-eyed readers may note that in places the seams in this patchwork quilt are a little clumsy. A tougher editor might have clamped down on some of Mr Bryson's lazy habits, such as the tiresome re-use of the phrase “very real”.
-The Economist

Synopsis

From one of the most beloved authors of our  time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone—a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

“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.

Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Bill Bryson's One Summer. 
 

About Bill Bryson

See more books from this Author
BILL BRYSON's best-selling books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything (which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and At Home. He lives in England with his wife and children.































Author Residence: Norfolk, England































Author Hometown: Des Moines, IA
 
Published October 5, 2010 by Anchor. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, History, Political & Social Sciences, Business & Economics. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 23 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for At Home
All: 18 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jul 26 2010

Bryson...takes a delightful stroll through the history of domestic life...Informative, readable and great fun.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by DOMINIQUE BROWNING on Oct 08 2010

...Bryson’s enthusiasm brightens any dull corner. I recommend that you hand over control and simply enjoy the ride. You’ll be given a delightful smattering of information about everything but, weirdly, the kitchen sink.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Carole Cadwalladr on Jun 05 2010

In the last third of the book, there's a mad dash through the greatest hits of the Industrial Revolution for what seems like completeness's sake. It's as if the headmaster has walked in and schoolmaster Bryson has been forced to take the Beatles off the turntable and relate the facts of the spinning Jenny.

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Guardian

Below average
on May 29 2010

...in a book ostensibly about private lives we might have hoped for a sneak peek behind public data.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by xoxoxoe on May 13 2012

As long as you’re willing to go along for the ride, Bryson has some very interesting stories to tell. But At Home: A Short History of Private Life should be viewed more as a series of entertaining essays which have the home as a common denominator, rather than a complete history of private life.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by WILLIAM BRYANT LOGAN on Oct 25 2010

What is missing is reflection on private life itself. It is indeed a comfortable book, but it has little to say about what all this seeking of comfort might mean.

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The Economist

Below average
on Sep 02 2010

Sharp-eyed readers may note that in places the seams in this patchwork quilt are a little clumsy. A tougher editor might have clamped down on some of Mr Bryson's lazy habits, such as the tiresome re-use of the phrase “very real”.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Donna Bowman on Oct 21 2010

The best non-fiction illuminates what we found impossible to see without it, and perhaps more so than any of his other wonderful books, At Home proves that Bryson writes some of the very best.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Emily Green on Nov 21 2010

An American might seek out an MIT expert on household accidents for the stairs chapter, which Bryson does, but with "At Home" he joins the quintessentially British ranks of historians such as Elizabeth David, Lucinda Lambton and Reay Tannahill, all mordant, all brilliant, and all of whom viewed the history of the world through a domestic lens.

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The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Louis Bayard on Oct 17 2010

...the experience of reading a Bill Bryson book is something you don't want to stop -- a pip and a spree and, almost incidentally, a serious education. And never tiresome...

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The Telegraph

Good
on Jun 19 2010

...a genuine page-turner — mainly because you can’t wait to see what you’ll find out next.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
on May 23 2010

His great skill is to make daily life simultaneously strange and familiar, and in so doing, help us to recognise ourselves. At Home is a treasure: don’t leave home without it.

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Huffington Post

Good
on Nov 07 2011

...collection of fascinating stories of how life has changed over time. These are stories that are a powerful reminder that it wasn't so long ago that we were complete ignorant idiots...

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The Seattle Times

Below average
on Oct 09 2010

...the sheer amount of information presented in this 452-page book is daunting...

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Oregon Live

Below average
on Oct 23 2010

"At Home" feels like a closet-cleaning project, like the end result of a desire to make something out of the little-known tidbits he unearthed while researching books...

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Chicago Sun Times

Good
Reviewed by Rob Merrill on Mar 21 2014

As in his acclaimed travel writing, Bryson never misses a chance to point out the absurdity of history. Arsenic in wallpaper, sawdust and urine diets at sea and rotting bodies in sitting rooms - they're all part of how we got here. And how lucky we are to have a writer like Bill Bryson reminding us of the journey.

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Nerdist

Excellent
on Apr 04 2011

...At Home is an entertaining and SUPER informative book, full of wonderful stories...and many, many interesting details.

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EE Times

Below average
on Jan 11 2011

Sometimes he rambles on a bit and many times he wanders off-topic...

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Reader Rating for At Home
81%

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