A Short History of Private Life
Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385537285, 553pp.
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
From one of our most beloved authors, a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home—now richly illustrated with more than three hundred images.
National bestseller At Home is Bill Bryson’s epic chronicle of domestic history. In this handsome new edition, his riveting room-by-room journey of discovery around his house—a Victorian parsonage in southern England—is enhanced by more than three hundred carefully curated illustrations, the large majority
of them in full color. As he did in the hugely successful A Short History of Nearly Everything: Illustrated Edition, Bryson complements his sparkling prose with striking illustrations selected from a wide array of sources to create a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. He has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive brains on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly mundane into an occasion for the most diverting exposition imaginable. When you’ve finished this book, you will see your house—and your daily life—in a new and revelatory light.
In Bill Bryson’s hands, the bathroom provides the occasion for the history of hygiene; the bedroom for an account of sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen for a discussion of nutrition and the spice trade. From architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the telephone to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets—and the brilliant, creative, and often eccentric minds behind them—Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world ends up in our houses, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.
Praise for At Home
“Delightful . . . Bryson’s enthusiasm brightens any dull corner . . . He is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“If this book doesn’t supply you with five years’ worth of dinner conversation, you’re not paying attention.”
“An exuberant, shared social history . . . Told with Bryson’s habitual brio . . . A personal compendium of fascinating facts, suggesting how the history of houses and domesticity has shaped our lives, language, and ideas.”
—The New York Review of Books
“A treasure trove . . . Playful, yes, but Bryson is also a deft historian.”
—Los Angeles Times
“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, for Bryson has the gift of being the student and not the tutor.”
—The Washington Post
“Readers who enjoyed Mr. Bryson’s apparently inexhaustible supply of nifty facts in such previous books as A Short History of Nearly Everything . . . will be happy to find the author’s pen as nimble and his narrative persona as genial as ever.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Reading Bill Bryson is like having one of those friends around who’s always discovering something new—some pastime or place or piece of information—and can’t wait to breathlessly pass it along.”
—The Dallas Morning News