Bill Bryson is a delightfully dorky guy full of interesting and trivial facts. In this book, he utilizes his own English country home as a launching pad to discussing, room by room, the history of the modern home. The concept works well to take us everywhere, from the kitchen (that’s why it’s called “room and board”) to the bathroom (weirdly enough, was once considered something for poor people) to the bedroom (people love sex).
I never knew I would care so much about the history of chairs, or what “limelight” actually means, or whether people always stayed up late, or why wallpaper kept killing people, but I do. Bryson’s book meanders through subjects the way one may meander through a vacation cottage. He takes his time, diverts from the tour, nods appreciatively, and moves along. I can’t tell whether or not I enjoyed the meandering nature or not, but overall I think I did. My only other complaint is that I would’ve liked the book to go into the carriage house/garage.
The weirdest thing about this particular reading experience is that I started this book on my Kindle three years ago, and just got around to finishing it on audiobook this year. While I liked reading the book just fine, it’s better for me as an audiobook because it’s perfect for walks through the neighborhood. I’m a dorky guy interested in trivia, so walking through a neighborhood alongside Bill Bryson why he talks about neighborhoods was the best way for me to experience the book.
If you like trivia and history, give it a go.