At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Generally, I am in the minority when it comes to Bill Bryson’s works, preferring “Notes from a Small Island,” to his more acclaimed books like “A Walk Through The Woods.” His reputation is built on travel and his unquenchable curiosity to know the story behind everything and every connected story.

His most recent book, “At Home: A Short History of Private Life,” will probably satisfy anyone, whether they are a long-time devoted reader or newcomer to the mind of Bryson. Even within the first few chapters, the book perpetuates his infallibly inquisitive mind about the small things in life that we never consider. Bryson’s goal with his latest book is to move through each room in the house, albeit the, bedroom, living room or even the stairs to see how these have developed with and as the private life. Then he examines the most common place of items. His never-ending probing opens the walls of the home into world history, filling the book with bizarre stories about long-lost conservatories and other miscellaneous tidbits, which always wraps back into the main point.

Like his other texts, Bryson’s dry humor resonates throughout the book, bringing up snippets of information that bring into focus the absurdity of the human condition. The factuality behind his humor adds depth and the apparently tangential methodology of writing somehow manages to pull everything into a tightly woven net to that encapsulates and catches everything within his anecdotes.

“At Home: A Short History of Private Life,” is sure to cause you to look at each aspect of your house in a different way, to know more about the evolution behind you house than you ever knew could exist and segue into his other books like “A Short History on Nearly Everything,” which breaks down the science of the world. In short, Bryson’s texts will show you there are more stories that you ever knew existed about things you didn’t know could have stories, without any tone of pretense or patronizing.

4 thoughts on “At Home: A Short History of Private Life

  1. I absolutely loved this book! Information you can’t imagine. Bryson is a wonder. “A Walk in the Woods” is one of my favorite books of all time.

  2. I really loved this book, as I do all of Bill Bryson’s books. But, you really must read one of his older ones, “Neither Here Nor There”. I literally made a fool of myself by reading much of this in public, laughing with tears running down my cheeks.

    1. I agree completely. Neither Here Nor There was the first book of Mr. Bryson’s I’d ever read and made me an immediate fan. I also felt the same about “The Lost Continent”, it was laugh out loud funny. All his books are full of humor as well as information, but those two travel books stand out in my mind as his best.

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