Given video games, cable television, and those mysterious things known as Slurpees, it can be easy sometimes to forget that we live in the real world. But we do. We are surrounded by things that were created by real people living at some specific point in history. What better way to understand the world around us than by looking at the things that we have and where they came from, their back story, their longevity or lack thereof?
In that light, I am pleased to announce this month’s Official Ask Umbra Book Club selection — At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson.
Bryson skillfully and entertainingly writes “a history of the world without leaving home.” Taking stock of the rooms in his house and their contents, the book explores the origin of cities and agriculture, how we stopped being nomads and started living sedentary lives. Did you know what you ate for dinner last night might have been on the menu of someone alive during the Stone Ages?
The book looks most closely at the past 150 years — the period when our human lives have been most dramatically changed by fossil fuels and the Industrial Revolution. What was life like before oil-and-so-much-else, and how has it fundamentally changed? Read and ye shall see!
We will begin a discussion of the book the week of Feb. 7. You can purchase it here, listen to the audio version, find it used, borrow it from a friend, or check it out of the library. Happy reading!