Book #2: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

I have a deep and abiding love for facts.

All kind of facts.  Facts about science, and history, and pop culture, and anything else you can think of.  If you’re knowledgeable on some subject, I want to hear about it, because I love collecting facts.  I would like to have ALL THE FACTS, thank you very much.

For this reason, books like Bryson’s latest, At Home: A Short History of Private Life are like crack to me.  Crack, I tell you, CRACK.  Yes, I do want to hear about the lives of servants in nineteenth century English country homes.  I absolutely want to hear about the history of sanitation in London, or the cholera epidemic.  I honestly do want to read about how electric lights transformed civilization and how the entire structure of modern society can be traced to the simple practice of crop rotation. 


So I loved this book greatly and with vastness.  Some reviewers remarked that it lacked Bryson’s trademark wry humor, and it is true that it’s lighter on humor and stronger on data than his other books, but that’s okay.  I don’t mind.  Because, facts.

When Bryson wrote A Short History of Nearly Everything, I was amazed (as a scientist) at how adeptly he took many disparate scientific disciplines and wove them together, demonstrating that they are not, in fact, disparate at all, but that everything is connected.  He does the same in At Home, weaving a tapestry of history, sociology, culture, architecture and industry to demonstrate how daily life changes with and is a reflection of large-scale civilization.  I dig that, man.

5 out of 5 stars


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