A Short History of Private LifeeBook - 2010
From the author of that classic of modern science writing, A Short History of Nearly Everything, comes a work of what you might call domestic science: our homes, how they work, and the fascinating history of how they got that way.
Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as found in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home." The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demostrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.
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“We are so used to having a lot of comfort in our lives—to being clean, warm, and well fed—that we forget how recent most of that is. In fact, achieving these things took forever, and then they mostly came in a rush.”
― Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life
"Throughout many periods of history—perhaps most—it can seem as if the whole impulse of fashion has been to look maximally ridiculous. If one could be maximally uncomfortable as well, the triumph was all the greater."
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