JG (The Introverted Reader)'s Reviews > At Home: A Short History of Private Life

At Home by Bill Bryson
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Nov 28, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: arc, own, 4_stars, z_author_american, non-fiction, z_read_in_2010, received_for_review, reviewed
Read from October 12 to November 19, 2010 — I own a copy

We take so much in our daily lives for granted. Bill Bryson looked around his house one day, realized how little he knew about the everyday objects surrounding him, and, being Bill Bryson, decided to research and write a book about them.

I read this slowly as my before-bed book, and I'm not sure that was always a good idea. Reading about how ingenious rats are as I hear the pitter-pat of little rodent feet in my attic space is not necessarily a good idea. But at least now I know who invented the traps my husband set out!

This book is hard to describe. It's roughly arranged by room, but my gosh, it travels around on some tangents. I'm not complaining. It all flowed together naturally and I only questioned how I had gotten to one subject if I really stopped to think about a particular chapter title. "The nursery" goes from childbirth to child labor to poor house conditions to the repression of wealthy children to conditions at boarding schools. But I promise you it all flows together, and it's all interesting in the way that only Bill Bryson can pull off.

I am not a huge fan of non-fiction, so I don't know that I could really have enjoyed this as much if I had read it straight through with no breaks, but as an in-between book, I really enjoyed it. I'm now full of trivia about all kinds of things that could even remotely be considered to have anything to do with private life.

They always say that truth is stranger than fiction. Bryson proves it. I read some of the more outrageous tidbits to my husband, who pretty much refuses to believe that they're true. But I don't question Bryson's research, so I believe him when he says that an Australian town was literally overrun with mice and collected over 1500 tons of dead mice before the outbreak was over. It gets crazier from there.

If you're a fan of Bryson, you'll enjoy this latest book as well. This isn't my favorite of his work, but it was surprisingly entertaining for a subject that sounds so dry.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Petar X Should have got in the Pied Piper long before there were 1500 tons of live mice!


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