Home Life

From cabin to castle.

If Walls Could Talk

By Lucy Worsley

Though she’s the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in London, Dr. Lucy Worsley finds the humble abode equally fascinating. Her “intimate history of the home” demonstrates how seemingly trivial alterations in domestic custom can reflect societal sea changes. The book also brims with trivia. For example, in Tudor times a wooden bed was a status symbol that families took with them when they traveled. Worsley hasn’t just read about bygone lifestyle trends, she’s slept in the beds, soaked in the baths, and used the loos. Her adventures and insights comprise a four-part BBC miniseries of the same name.

At Home

By Bill Bryson

The author of the charmingly comprehensive A Short History of Everything here focuses on the objects that fill his own home, giving readers a tour of the place and sharing a small piece of compelling information about every item he comes across. For Bryson, our homes are autobiographies we write every day, journals we keep by acquiring, enduring, and loving. After reading this, no old house will ever seem ordinary; At Home shows how our dwellings are links of commonality that connect us to one another. Mi casa es su casa.

Room Temperature

By Nicholson Baker

In his first novel, The Mezzanine, Baker earned a reputation for elevating the minutiae of everyday life to a kind of symphony of detail. His follow-up manages to stretch the simple activity of a man bottle-feeding his baby for a few minutes across 128 entertaining pages that explore the wonder of a child’s continued growth in the home and in the world. As he observes his child and the living room around him, the narrator marvels at his own journey from infancy to adulthood.

Going Solo

By Eric Klinenberg

Living by yourself: it seems so unremarkable. But Klininberg demonstrates how many different factors — women’s independence, increased urbanization, societal acceptance of divorce — have contributed to the phenomenon’s growth. What was once considered “lonely” is now liberating. But the author warns against the pitfalls of living alone and advocates new ways to connect and spend time with others, even if the day concludes in a room of one’s own.  

The House Book

By the Phaidon Press Staff

500 iconic houses and traditional dwellings from all over the world yield a celebration of human ingenuity and aesthetic exuberance. From Hadrian’s Villa to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, from mud hut to royal palace, these domiciles — as documented in glorious photographs — not only please the eye, but also speak volumes about the cultures that produced them.