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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: October 2010 ISBN: 9780307707505
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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.”

    People

  • 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 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 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 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 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". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne-Marie | 1/26/2014

    " Bryson is one of my favorites. His meandering, conversational is exactly how I like to learn history. Ostensibly a book of the history of the various parts of the house--living room, stairs, kitchen, and so on--Bryson weaves together changes in architecture, advances in engineering, shifts in social classes and the status of women, national trade relations, developments in cookery, and many many many other fascinating threads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meagan Greygor | 1/20/2014

    " Oh, Mr Bryson, you fill me with so much somewhat useless knowledge that I actually feel smarter for reading your books. I think my family is smarter too thanks to my frequent blurts of "wow, did you know that..." Loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rochelle Torke | 1/4/2014

    " If you like to read history as a slew of odd factoids, this is a good one. Humans are weird. We've always been weird. Bill shows us proof. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charity | 12/15/2013

    " Very interesting, although more appropriately titled: "At Home: Random But Interesting Stuff I Think of When I think of the Rooms in My House (Pre-historic to the time I was born). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric Bjerke | 12/11/2013

    " I loved it. So many cool anecdotes on the origin of things and words. Right up my alley. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Letitia | 11/29/2013

    " Found it interesting in the beginning, but he lost me somewhere around the 1/3 to 1/2 mark. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lizzie | 11/23/2013

    " Really loved this book. Never put it down, an anthology of the home and how and why the way we live and the homes and spaces we live in have changed over time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carly | 11/21/2013

    " I really enjoyed this, and even the meandering way he goes from one idea to another until you forget what the book is supposed to be about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy Sokolski | 11/3/2013

    " Anything Bill Bryson writes is magic, in my opinion. This book is an amazing look at the history of how we live in our homes from the orgins of the bedroom to the reason we have hallways. It so fascinating and I learned so much. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 LikeTheDog | 9/9/2013

    " Very interesting and PACKED with information. I like Bill Bryson, and liked the subject matter (and all the minutiae). But I found I couldn't read much of this at a time -- small doses went down more easily. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick Riemondi | 2/25/2013

    " The history of home life, as could only be told by Bryson. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Covina Bookstore | 11/17/2012

    " I thought I would like it, but not so much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaisa | 8/14/2012

    " "No-one, possibly except the Luftwaffe, has done more in changing the look of London during the following years than the architect John Nash." Well put, huh? Listened as an audiobook read by author - had to buy the book as well. 'Cause I love it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Livia | 7/10/2012

    " This is an interesting book. I was reminded that many of our modern conveniences are recent inventions. Thank God for sanitation. The nursery chapter was difficult to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jo Chester | 5/23/2012

    " This was fascinating on all levels. Loved the...how some English sayings came about...Bigwigs etc. Also the depth of filth that people lived in on a daily occurrence, not that long ago was incredible. An interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric Dymond | 1/4/2012

    " Very enjoyable, somewhat random look at the history of domestic life from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian Rees | 9/26/2011

    " A really entertaining read. Bryson moves effortlessly from one subject to the next, making a fascinating series of connections and links. Great stuff! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 7/26/2011

    " This book is really not about homes but a random assortment of interesting facts that will improve your trivial pursuit game skills "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Coastalmegan | 6/29/2011

    " I'm only on page 100 or so, but I'm in love with this book! I am a huge fan of a Short History of Nearly Evrything and this book is very similar. I must forewarn that in order to really enjoy the book you have to be willing to take in a lot about of information about England. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martine | 6/27/2011

    " I love Bill Bryson's books and this one did not dissapoint. I learned so much about why we now live the way we do, and the people who came before who influence everything that we have in our homes, from spices to furniture. A must read. Funny and informative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 6/27/2011

    " Great fun. Discursive, chatty, informal, but illuminating history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nichole | 6/27/2011

    " Interesting and yet at the same time boring.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Norma | 6/26/2011

    " Wonderful recounting of the meaning/contents/etc. of each room in a house told in Bryson's droll style. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Knitme23 | 6/23/2011

    " LOVED this book--spent weeks enthralling (ahem) both my family and my students with tidbits from it. It gives you tons of info to carry around in your head, info that changes the way you perceive the world. WOW. My first whole-book Bryson, but I hope not my last! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 6/23/2011

    " Loved it! Fascinating look at how some traditions in home life came to be—or at least pretty good speculation about said things. It helps that the author uses his English former vicarage home as the frame for the story, but even for those less enamored of all things British, a fun read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 6/21/2011

    " Once on the Bryson kick, I started reading all of his work. This was on the new book shelves in my Austin branch library. I enjoyed the mental images of his current house in England, but the book was just OK. No laughing out loud. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Smoovp | 6/20/2011

    " Really fun read. Chock full of interesting stuff and beautifully written. Author has a great way of digging out fun facts and relevant trivia to illuminate obscure but important details on significant historical events that inform the way we live. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rahime | 6/18/2011

    " Wow, why have I never read this author before? This was fascinating and entertaining the whole way through. Now I need to read his other books! "

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About the Author
Author Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is the New York Times bestselling author of At HomeA Walk in the WoodsThe Lost ContinentMade in AmericaThe Mother Tongue, A Short History of Nearly Everything—winner of the Aventis Prize—and various other works. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he now lives in England, where he has worked for both the Times and Independent and written for most other major British and American publications.