Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we will unlock the book “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” When it comes to history, we tend to believe that it only concerns significant events, famous figures, the succession of monarchs, and the rise and fall of dynasties, rather than ordinary people. The author of this book believed so too until he purchased a 150-year-old apartment in the English countryside. This happened to be a former Church of England rectory. During a discussion on local historical and archaeological discoveries, the author suddenly came to realize that even Einstein, a historical figure, would have spent a large part of his life thinking about eating, dating, and his holidays. To a great extent, history is an accumulation of people doing quite ordinary things. One afternoon, the author was playing with salt and pepper shakers, and a thought occurred to him. Why, out of all the spices in the world, would only these two appear on every household table? Another day, while dressing, another thought occurred to him. Why did all of his suit jackets have a row of buttons sewed on every sleeve; wasn’t this pointless? Then, he wandered from room to room in his apartment and slowly realized each functional area, facility, and item surely could not have appeared at the very beginning of private home life. When did they in fact appear? And, for what reason? As such, the author started to thoroughly research the answers to these questions and came to the decision to write a book about the history of household life. But when he started, he realized that it would not be such a simple book, as each item in the house had such a momentous history. He later wrote that his most prominent finding was that “whatever happens in the world, whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over, eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house.” In other words, houses are museums of history, and there is splendid history hidden behind every single room. The author of this book, Bill Bryson, is a world-renowned American non-fiction writer who mainly focuses on travel essays and science books. In recognition of his prodigious literary achievements, Queen Elizabeth awarded him an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2006. The Times rated him as the most interesting living travel writer in the world. His most famous book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” which can also be found in our Bookey, has been translated and published in more than 50 countries with over 10 million copies sold globally. If “A Short History of Nearly Everything” explores the universe through a telescope, then this book explores household life through a microscope. Next, let’s dive into the history hidden in everyone’s house in three parts: Part 1, The history of the kitchen Part 2, The history of the bedroom Part 3, The history of the garden
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