“Quite as ambitious as his A Short History of Nearly Everything. This is a genuinely compelling book…a kind of layman’s encyclopaedia full of ‘did you know’ moments…This companionable volume is as dense as a rich fruit cake and, by the same measure, rewarding, too.”


I always look forward for a few chuckles reading a Bryson book, however this is not that book. After the first few chapters, I realize this is a quite serious read but I’m not all that disappointed, he is after all a very good writer. Take a house, his home and what goes into that home and that is the basis of the book. From top to bottom he takes us through the basics of the items we take for granted, marvelous inventors that made it all possible.

We don’t stay land locked at all as nothing began or was inspired by being just in the one house so we are set to go all over the globe and what a trip it is. I was doing just fine, very enjoyable and maybe slightly too comfortable and then…Mr. Bryson dared to go there…go figure…the question of human waste…I suddenly am slung back in time to reading more about sewers and sewer systems when I read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo…I didn’t ever want to revisit that topic but here we are. I muddle on and frankly I don’t want to know how it works or where it goes, I just know when I turn on a faucet or flush a toilet the business is taken care of. Well, it is part of the house so yep he went there.

All kidding aside it’s a wonderful work full of the history of things we take for granted and the people that we owe a big thanks for their visions and making our lives a little safer and quite a bit easier so we can do what we most enjoy….like reading.


Reviewed by:

Diana Long

Added 4th April 2020

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Diana Long