Have you ever wondered why out of all the hundreds of available spices out there it is salt and pepper that we find on every table? What makes these two so special, why not cardamom or cumin? Speaking of mysteries of our private lives, why do forks come with four tines? What exactly happens in a drawing room? These types of questions are exactly what motivated Bill Bryson to write yet another best seller, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
The author himself was born in 1951 in America, Des Moines, Iowa to be precise, as William McGuire Bryson. He is best known for writing amusing, informative and absolutely hilarious travel books. His body of work includes books on language, biographies, history and science, most notably A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson’s style is unique, always humorous and absolutely captivating. He resides in England with his wife and children enjoying country life on a small island.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life is a book about the history of anything, anything concerning our private lives. People have been doing basically the same things for centuries, kings, rulers and peasants alike, we all go about our business, eat, sleep and procreate and trying to be as comfortable as possible while doing so. Who knew that everyday life can be so interesting? For example, in our day and age we take hot food for granted, if your soup got cold while you were chatting on your mobile phone, all you need to do is pop it into the microwave and heat it up for a few minutes and voila, hot soup. For aristocrats in the earlier centuries hot foods where not a given thing, the distance from the kitchen to the dining room used to be so long, everything could get cold by the time it arrives. Lobsters and oysters used to be available in such abundance, that some houses would add clauses in cooks’ contracts that those delicious crustaceans, we hold so dearly these days, were to be served only once a week, not more, just because people were quite frankly bored of them. These and many other absolutely fascinating facts is what Bill Bryson writes about so wittingly in his book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, so get out there and get yourself a copy.
Next up, One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson’s latest creation about history in the United States and how everything changed, stay tuned.