2011-2012 Summer Reading Project: At Home


When I started my summer reading project last year, I knew that I was going to wind up reading Kerouac’s On The Road and my plan was going to be that I should end with that–after all, it was supposedly some “ultimate” road book. But last Christmas, my sister bought me Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life>, and as I wound my way through trip after trip, I thought that it would be wholly appropriate if I finished … well, at home.

I’ve loved Bryson’s writing for a good decade now, after a friend loaned me A Walk in the Woods (which I left off my reading list because the library’s copy is perpetually out and by the time I got around to consider buying it, I wanted to finish this project and therefore didn’t feel like adding another book), so I was looking forward to a book wherein a writer known for his travelogues spends time not going anywhere except through different rooms in a parsonage in the English countryside that he and his wife now own. It doesn’t disappoint. Through his examination of each room of the house, Bryson gives a pretty thorough history of domestic life, even going as far as to give the very gross details of how sewer systems came about in Victorian England, as well as give a background on the invention of the door. I know, it doesn’t sound that interesting, but Bryson’s easy style and natural curiosity really do make it interesting, even if he does get a little long -winded or goes off on tangents that are pretty exhausting. But as uninteresting as this post is (I started writing this at 9:00 this morning … left, came back, left again … it’s now 3:10 p.m.), I recommend it because of the way it piques your natural curiosity. I’ll be back soon with a post that kind of wraps up this whole project when I am feeling more eloquent.


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