Friday, 19 August 2011

Book Review: At Home: A Short History of Private Life [Audiobook]

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

Narrated By: Bill Bryson

Publisher: AudioGO Ltd.

Category: Narrative Non-Fiction

Synopsis: Bill Bryson takes the reader on a journey through the house and the history of our homes.

My Thoughts: I am a bit of a history nerd. I prefer social history to military (my high school history teacher would have a FIT if she heard that) so this book hit all the right buttons for me on the surface.

And for the most part I really liked it. Like most Bryson books it is hysterically funny in places, and there is certainly a lot of interesting historical nuggets. However, the book also had some problems. The focus of the book is most definitely on the UK and the US. This might not be a problem for some but for me it became a bit repetitive and boring. In addition the idea of using Bryson’s own house as a starting point is at first a smart one, but after a while it becomes clear that there are certain limitations to this approach. The layout of the house is somewhat strange and there are rooms that either don’t exist in other houses or look very different in some houses. This means that some chapters feel somewhat disjointed and not very interesting. The chapter on the basement becomes not so much about the basement as it is a chapter on architecture, and while this is interesting I would have liked to hear what people actually USED their basement for, and this was only sparsely commented on.

All this said, at no point did I want to put the book down. I think that for a history buff it is definitely a must add to the home library. It touches on some of the most important people in history, such as Tomas Jefferson and George Washington as well as famous architects and engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel as well as events that shaped how we live today.

Overall the book seems factually quite accurate and I did learn quite a bit from it. It is a book I will probably add in hardcopy to my history library. I would like to read it and take notes. I listened to large portions of it while driving at it is hard then to make notes to remember both for reviews and for future information.

soundbytesAudio production: Bill Bryson narrates his own book and does so very well. It really feels like he is sitting there telling the story himself, to me. I don’t recall having any real issues with any part of the audio production. I thought it was well done and easy to listen to.


Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Jessica said...

I got given this because my husband could not get through it although that was the novel rathe than the audio book. My mum quite enjoyed it but did have the same problems you had. Hopefully Ill enjoy it although I do like history

Bailey (The Window Seat Reader) said...

I've heard lots of good things about Bryson's work! Might have to listen to one of his audiobooks someday... glad I came across your review!

Anonymous said...

Interesting book. I'm also prefer social History .

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

I've liked some of Bryson's previous work, but I seem to hear such mixed things about this one. I have the audio, still considering it.

Kitchen Benchtops said...

The greatest strength of this book; its ability to send the reader and listener enthusiastically scampering off through the corridors of humanity's amazing history.