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Extended Audio Sample At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (24,876 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bill Bryson Narrator: Bill Bryson Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It takes a very particular kind of thoughtfulness, as well as a bold temperament, to stuff all this research into a mattress that’s supportive enough to loll about on while pondering the real subject of this book—the development of the modern world…Bryson is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious…[His] enthusiasm brightens any dull corner.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “There are many guilty pleasures, from Bryson’s droll prose…to the many tantalizing glimpses behind closed doors at aristocratic English country houses. In demonstrating how everything we take for granted, from comfortable furniture to smoke-free air, went from unimaginable luxury to humdrum routine, Bryson shows us how odd and improbable our own lives really are.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Fans of Bryson’s previous works will be pleased, as will those who enjoy their nonfiction with a fun, witty edge.”

    Library Journal

  • “A delightful stroll through the history of domestic life…In a sense, Bryson’s book is a history of ‘getting comfortable slowly’…Informative, readable and great fun.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Delightful…Considering our homes means a dash through history, politics, science, sex, and dozens of other fields.  If this book doesn’t supply you with five years’ worth of dinner conversation, you’re not paying attention.”


  • Selected for the October 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Matthew Perry | 2/17/2014

    " Interesting read on the history of the home. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Angela | 2/6/2014

    " Really interesting how our homes became what they are. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by JoAnn | 2/2/2014

    " Read it for book club. Very well done. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Rachel Oliver | 2/1/2014

    " This book started out somewhat boring, but interesting. Each chapter explores a different room in a home and explains how each room evolved over centuries to what we know today. Interesting facts are abundant, if not overwhelming. There are some great stories such as how the modern chimney came to be and when glass in windows started becoming prevalent. However, this book slowly sinks into the depths of stomach-churning, nauseating descriptions of Victorian life. I was so completely turned off by Bryson's gory details of the dreary, horror-filled life of 19th-century English citizens that I actually put this book down and I don't expect to finish it. For instance, the chapter entitled "Nursery" was almost totally devoted to recounting the tragedies, misfortunes and abuses of the unfortunate English children of the Victorian era. Bill Bryson really got off track on this one! A more fitting title would be "The Victorians: A Damned Crazy Bunch". "

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