I had heard great things about Bill Bryson but he seemed like one of those writers that looked good but was always second or third on my list. I heard him interviewed on NPR a few months ago about his latest book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, and I decided it was time to tune in to Bill.
Bill Bryson is probably most well known for his travel memoirs like In a Sunburned Country and A Walk in the Woods which I have meant to read but never had the time. Over my winter holiday I made time for this most recent book and enjoyed all of it. He contends that we write history books over monumental wars, elections and discoveries but really everything settles to what happens in the home. He answers the questions behind the big question: how did our modern homes become the way they are? Why do we sleep on beds? Why do we put salt and pepper on our tables? What are buildings made of and why? What is the history of bathing? He explores critters that live in homes, the history of childhood, gardening, servants and historic preservation. It all comes together beautifully and is really very interesting and oh so readable. I am sorry I put him off for so long.
I have put two more of his books on my list and would be interested to know if you have any favorite Bill Bryson books? Which one should I read next?