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

      Most of us take our homes for granted, finding comfort in a familiar ambiance created by months, years or even generations of living in a house or apartment without examining how or why that comfort evolved. Bill Bryson opens our eyes to the rich cultural history of the past that resides in a typical home. Granted the typical home for Bill Bryson is a 19th century English parsonage, but the facts he reveals and discusses could be applied universally. As he takes the listener from room to room in his home, he chronicles a history of private life by discussing the architecture of the rooms, their various uses and the items found in them. The result is a fascinating account of everything from salt to sex. For example, by looking around the kitchen he's inspired to discuss topics such as nutrition, the spice trade, entertaining, agriculture, and sanitation to name a few. As he makes his way from room to room, from cellar to attic, he talks about hundreds of items, events and concepts, so that when he finishes, he's accomplished what he set out to do. He's told " a history of the world without ever leaving home."

      This book is not only vastly informative, it is very entertaining. Bryson's witty observations and reflections add warmth to a comprehensive collection of historical data. Topics that could be tedious with a different treatment become appealing thanks to his insightful comments. His narration is friendly and engaging and adds to the appeal of the audio presentation. This book would make a perfect gift for anyone, but especially for a new homeowner or for a weekend host or hostess. There is so much to learn, to consider and to appreciate in this book that it can be enjoyed again and again. At Home is an audio book that invites frequent revisiting.

      At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
      Read by the Author
      Random House Audio, unabridged: 16.5 hours on 13 Cds