Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

On the jacket:

“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.


What do I say about this book? It was a one of a kind read. 

A book where every section of a house, we live in without thinking of it's past, is spoken about and analysed. Bryson has gone into the history of each section of the house he lived in. One can see a whole lot of curiosity in the authors mind and how much extensive research he has undergone to sum up this book.

Primarily about the domestic lives in Britain and in America, there is a lot of history in here. It's full of numerous trivia. In the research, Bryson has brought up some questions like - Why do forks have four tines and not five? Why do humans eat pigs and keep dogs as pets .. why not the other way round?

Logical? Yes. Yet, we never pondered over them. Bryson has. Bryson has gone into the depth and got answers to why and how have things come into being as they are now, in an average home.

This book is like nothing I have read before; and am glad I did. Reading it was an experience.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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