Wednesday, July 18, 2012

At Home

I love trivia and historical facts, so I knew I would appreciate being At Home with Bill Bryson. Exploring his rectory, room by room, he recounts fascinating details about things we so often take for granted.  Salt and pepper, upholstered furniture, the telephone....

I'll often read a novel or book and think how it would translate cinematically... this time I was thinking what a great rich media experience it would be, embedding hot spots about the room and having people click and explore.

This was Pat's pick for the Book Babes and it generated lots of discussion and laughter.  In my kobo I've annotated 19 pages so far and I'm not yet done reading the text. I can see myself buying a hard copy of this to keep to keep handy, to pick up and graze and snack as time permits.

As much as I enjoyed reading it, I'd often hit a wall and feel as though my brain and thoughts were suddenly bloated.  I'd over-indulged, binged, and not been aware just quite when I'd crossed that line.

I'm not going to transcribe all of my annotations or I'd be re-typing the book, but here are some of the quotes I found irresistible:

  • Houses aren't refuges from history. They are where history ends up.  
  • That's what history mostly is:  masses of people doing ordinary things.
  • People moved around the house looking for shade or sunlight and often took their furniture with them, so rooms, when they were labelled at all, were generally marked 'mattina' (for morning use) or 'sera' (for afternoon).
  • By 1851, one-third of all the young women in London - those aged from about 15 to 25 - were servants.... another one in three was a prostitute.
  • Virginia Woolf's diaries are almost obsessively preoccupied with her servants and the challenge of maintaining patience with them.  Of one she writes: 'She is in a state of nature, untrained, uneducated... so one sees a human mind wriggling and undressed.'
  • Where Edison truly excelled was as an organizer of systems.  The invention of the lightbulb was a wondrous thing but of not much practical use when no one had a socket to plug into.  Edison and his tireless workers had to design and build the entire system from scratch.
You get the idea.....  the work is very tangential, loosely organized, very non linear, and absolutely enjoyable.

I think Nicolette summed it up well as, "the perfect bathroom reader."

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