Book Brief: Bill Bryson's At Home
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.
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
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