Book Brief: Bill Bryson's At Home

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Some thoughtful soul in Hanley Wood's D.C. office forwarded me a review copy of Bill Bryson's new book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. It was a pleasant surprise. I've enjoyed Bryson's books on hiking the Appalachian Trail, the English language, Australia, and (almost literally) everything. I'm especially enjoying this one, because it covers a subject of obvious interest: the history of houses and domestic life.

I just cracked it open yesterday, so I can't offer much of a review. But Bryson is both a tireless researcher and an engaging and amusing writer. That combination works for me, and I'm enjoying this book very much already. The first few pages touch on a subject I find utterly fascinating: the neolithic settlement at Skara Brae in Scotland's Orkney Islands. This small group of stone structures is staggeringly ancient--at 5,000 years old, it predates Stonehenge--yet it contains such familiar architectural and domestic features as built-in beds and dressers. And check out that masonry! Forty centuries with no maintenance. It makes me wonder why one would ever build a wall out of wood. --B.D.S.


Comments (2 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 4:04 AM Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    Good one

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 10:58 AM Friday, October 29, 2010

    The Discovery of these buried stone buildings is fascinating! Each year at Cumar, Inc. we travel extensively throughout the world to hand select our stone products. We would love to check out this site on our next trip. If you are as fascinated as we are about stonework, visit our blog at

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