Friday, December 28, 2012

Completed: At Home

Dear Jenny,

You gave me this book a few years back and I'm glad I finally made time to read it — it was really great!

As you know, this books takes a journey around the house (specifically, the author's house, an old English parsonage), exploring the history of things throughout — rooms, fixtures, the objects within... and beyond.

Bryson is a curious guy, so he goes on some pretty epic Curiosity Journeys throughout this book, taking the reader along for the ride. In the process, we learn fascinating stuff about the origins of things we use every day, the evolution of commonplace items, and quite a lot about US and English history.

I especially enjoyed the blueprints of the home discussed throughout the book used as the endpapers — it was neat to look at them as I was reading and they show how the rooms were originally designed vs. how they were actually built, which is fascinating stuff on its own. And the Index makes me super happy — easy reference for when I remember reading something about a certain topic covered, but I can't remember what it was!

Overall, I loved this book — Bryson is an engaging author and held my interest as he started in each room, explored the annals of history, got into little details and derailments, and brought it all back again to the room where he started. The only problem I had was with the order of the book — because it covered topics room-by-room, historical information ended up out of chronological order. There were many times when he would remind the reader of previously mentioned historical characters ("Remember when we met so-and-so in the drawing room? This was his brother!") but for a person like me, with a very loose grasp on historical events and in what order they happened, that was a little hard to follow.

Oh, yeah... and the part about all of the bugs could go. I had to skip it when he started getting into how many insects and other critters we're all living with on a daily basis, or I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. It was only a few pages, but I didn't need it.

Still, it was still an excellent read -- I'm going to give it to my mom next, as I think she'll really enjoy it (I might warn her about the bugs, though...) This is one of those books that one feels compelled to share (as you did with me), which is great.


PS - This review sort of ends up reading like, "Great book, thanks!" Maybe for two reasons: 1. I'm not going to start listing all of Bryson's fascinating facts and 2. I'm on a deadline. I've got two more books to cover in the next two days. Sorry -- the good news is that you've read it yourself, so you know! :)


  1. K,

    Actually, I never read this book! It just sounded like something you'd think was interesting---although I am quite familiar with the author. I've read many of his books, and I just think of him as being one of those guys who could make *anything* interesting! Except bugs. Those are always just gross. I'd have to skip that for sure.

    This whole business of reviewing is so tricky. I was looking over my review for Embracing Defeat, and realized I didn't actually talk that much about what the book was...I spent a lot more time talking about what it wasn't. Sometimes that's just the way it goes, I guess.


  2. When we first started keeping this blog, I read a bunch of tips about becoming a better book reviewer. Then I said, "Screw it." This thing is between you and me (if anyone else wants to take a look, that's fine, but... we're not writing for them) sooo... we can talk about whatever we want to. Yay! Adulthood!

    Meanwhile... I will say that I probably would have written this "review" (or whatever the heck it is) a little differently if I had known you hadn't read it -- this write up definitely assumes you're already familiar with the book. Buuuut.... I'm not going to edit it. I've got two more to do in the next two days. :)

    (I am almost done writing up Wonder Woman, so that leaves Nox. Which I know you have read, so... don't expect much. Heh.)

  3. Don't rewrite it! I actually read several reviews of it, so I totally know the gist of the book and how it's set up.

    Today, I'm going to go to a bookstore...just for fun! The new Seminary Co-op bookstore opened a month ago, and I haven't had a chance to see it yet. The old location was amazing. It was all nooks and corners and was underground, so a bit like a book labyrinth without any scary monsters. The best thing about my neighborhood: the many awesome bookstores.

    You can do it! You can read Nox over a cup of coffee!

  4. HA! I l*literally* just read Nox over my cup of coffee! :)