Here is Bill Bryson's entertaining and illuminating book about the history of the way we live - complete, unabridged and read by the author.
Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be. Along the way, he researched the history of anything and everything, from architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the spice trade to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets. And he discovered that there is a huge amount of history, interest and excitement - and even a little danger - lurking in the corners of every home.
Where A Short History of Nearly Everything was a sweeping panorama of the world, the universe and everything, At Home peers at private life through a microscope. Bryson applies the same irrepressible curiosity, irresistible wit, stylish prose, and masterful storytelling that made A Short History of Nearly Everything one of the most lauded books of the last decade.
©2010 Bill Bryson (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"More Fact Pact Bryson"
I am a lifelong fan of Bill Bryson. His travel books are legendary. However since he has ceased travelling he now writes books such as this and many previously, basically packed with interesting facts and historical anecdotes.
He uses his house here to take us on a journey to each room, then onward to tell us for instance the story of archaeology or the life of the inventor Alexander Graham Bell or the origin of underwear.. see what I mean random, but it has to be said mostly fun.
My only two gripes (and why I did not give it 5 stars) are firstly it is read by the author. He is not a bad reader, but at times tends to drone, I do wish authors would leave reading there books to the people trained to do so. Many of his older books were read by Kerry Shale, and very good they are to.
Secondly he does have a tendency to repeat some items from his earlier books, not sure if this intentional or not, but it is a bit annoying, if like me, you have read all his output.
If this is your first foray into Bryson, I should start with an earlier book, but that is not to say this is a bad book by ant means, but he has done much better.
"A fascinating journey"
Bill Bryson is a great writer and this is a spell-binding book, but I must agree with Stewart that this would have been very much easier on the ear if read by a professional. Mr Bryson's reading is hurried and his diction nasal and it would have put me off completely if the content hadn't been so wonderful. I kept thinking 'if only Stephen Fry were reading this'. On balance, though, the depth of research and Bryson's wit and compassion compensate.
"An absolute thrill..."
I must also disagree with the first review. I found the harsh tones of Mr Shale reading '...Nearly Everything' quite annoying and the production meant I was forced to have the volume up louder than I would usually.
Not so with the lovely lilt of Bill Bryson. He bestows such facinating insight into the outwardly mundane subject matter of this book with wit and gentle enthusiasm and it is very difficult to 'put down'.
Highly recommended. If you are reading this, you must be thinking of getting it. My advice? You'll love it.
I'm only part-way through listening, but I'm absolutely hooked. I must disagree with a previous reviewer in that I find Bryson's narration much better than the reader of A Short History of Nearly Everything; I love his reading here. Like that book though, this will be one I anticipate returning to re-listen to several times. Wonderful!
"Good but not the best Bryson book"
I enjoyed this book, although it isn't the best he's written. Its factual, well referenced and interesting. Its also value for money/credit as it is a decent length. I found the narrator a bit annoying and after huffing and puffing about it for a bit I checked who narrated it only to find out it was Bill Bryson himself! Although I normally love it when the author narrates their own book, in this case I have heard his books read better. He does tend to slur his words, get a bit tongue tied in parts and doesn't speak as energetically as I'd hoped for. William Roberts who narrated a Short History of Nearly Everything (another Bryson book) would have been an improvement. Definately worth getting if you're a Bryson fan.
A history book with a difference. A truly enthralling read, taking you on a trip through the history of 'home' plus a whole lot more thrown in for good measure. Loved it and would of happily read another 10 chapters. Brilliant Bryson as always.
Bryson does it again weaving a merry path of fact upon fact upon fact as he takes us on a tour around the origins of the home. If you like interesting general and not so general knowledge and are interested in the way we are, where we are from and how we came to develop ideas then you should listen to this. Its like throwing open an encyclopaedia and exploring and researching thread after thread of information. Absorbing!!
This book is an interesting look at our houses and how the things inside it came to be. It may not be everyone's taste but I enjoyed it. If you have a curious mind about history this book is for you.
Being a massive Bill Bryson fan I was delighted to see this new addition. It did not disappoint and blended meticulous research with witty story telling. As a subject matter it was less interesting to me than some of his other works but I never found the content dry. As always, his narrations are excellent.
"Sorry Bill - you're just not a narrator"
BRYSON: So I want to do a follow up called "A short history of some other stuff too" - a potted history about lots of other odds and ends I find interesting.
PUBLISHER: No, no, no. You can't do that - you need a new title and a new theme.
PUBLISHER: Here's a whacky idea. But it might just work. Call it "At home" and base each chapter on a room of your home and then just talk about whatever you like.
BRYSON: Really? And not have anything to do with the room I'm talking about?
PUBLISHER: Well there will be a few easy ones at the start, like the kitchen and the bedroom. You have enough material for those to make them very topical. But then you could start getting more and more tenous in other chapters, no one will notice.
PUBLISHER: Yeah it'd be hilarious - do a whole chapter called The Study - but instead talk about mice and rats, and don't even mention the study. By the end you can talk about whatever you want. The Attic can be about Darwin, you like Darwin don't you?
BRYSON: Erm - yeah
PUBLISHER: So what are you waiting for? Off you go.
So some chapters are specifically related to the room at hand, others amusingly bear not the most tenuous link. Not that that takes anything away from the content. It's a good book It's not quite the fantastic read that "A short history of nearly everything" is, but it's in the same vein.
In fact despise lots of amusing historical stories, and word origins, and top notch trivia, I didn't enjoy this book half as much as some of his others, and hardly laughed at all. Unusual for reading Bryson.
Pretty sure I can put it all down to buying the audiobook even though I knew better after having major doubts while listening to a sample. Someone told me I'd get used to it. He was wrong. Bryson just doesn't have the delivery to read an audiobook and amazingly makes his own words sound far less interesting by merely reading them out loud. So I imagine it's a much better book on paper.
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