At Home was one of my bargain finds at the post-Christmas sales. However, I would recommend against hardcovers for the daily commute because they’re too heavy to carry around! The story however, is very interesting and diverse.
At Home is a non-fiction book, not about any of Bryson’s travels but of the family home- in particular, his home in England. It is sectioned into chapters room by room but don’t be fooled in thinking that it’s just about the history of plumbing in the bathroom or cooking in the kitchen. No, Bryson is far more diverse than that, describing inventions that fell in and out of favour quickly, interesting houses and why glass in windows was a sign of prestige. Many situations and items are covered in each chapter, giving a good overview of things you may be more interested in reading about – or not. The relatively short description of each situation is both the downfall and the saving grace of At Home. It was relatively easy to skim over parts I wasn’t very interested in (eg. the dimensions of stairs) but I felt cheated at times when the narrative changed abruptly after reading something very interested (such as the Crystal Palace). This books whets the appetite for reading more, but in this day and age, we’ll probably turn to Wikipedia rather than seek out well referenced and factually correct publications!
I enjoyed this book, it was a nice change from his travel books.
Read it if: you enjoy random facts about everyday life.