I just finished Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Random House 2010), or rather Bryson just finished reading it to me on CD. I love listening to this author read his own works, and this book is so very Brysony. Maybe my geek card just fell out of my wallet, but I loved learning about the history of the rooms in our houses, as well as the stuff in them, and the details of domestic life: contemporary diseases of medieval origin, heavy-metal wallpaper, painful powdered wigs, and the obedience of Charles Darwin to his father (which might have prevented his journey). This author is the master of irony, and domestic life is nothing if not ironic.
Maybe what I appreciate the most is the way Bryson made me realize that the rituals and conflicts of our day are seamlessly connected to everything that came before. And that the most accidental events can lead to massive shifts in beliefs and practices. I guess this sounds obvious, but I don't always remember it. It helps me let go of the feeling that we're inescapably entrenched in our ways.
Terrific book. All thumbs up.