Monday, December 24, 2012

Reads for Writers: Bill Bryson Provides a Masterclass

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide Masterclasses for me within their books.
          Masterclasses take place when performance artists or musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be Masterclasses for characters, dialogue, backstories, plots, settings, voices and/or creativity.

          Most of us just want to be home for the holidays--whether that means our own homes or the homes of loved ones.
           After all the festivities are over, this is the perfect time of year to read At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. You will appreciate your homes as you never have before.

          From the front cover flap: Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in...England...[where] he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as found in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home."

         Do not read the word history and think dry and dusty facts. This book is filled with entertaining, fun, and funny facts, but sad, poignant, and even disgusting ones, too. Sadly, humans took a long time to realize the importance of good hygiene.

           People who changed the course of history--and improved our homes--with inventions and discoveries were sometimes honored and rewarded and sometimes cheated and forgotten yet our homes would not be the same without all of them. And you will be surprised how often synchronicity played a part in the history of homes.

          From page 4, "Sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, playing idly with the salt and pepper shakers, it occurred to me that I has absolutely no idea why, out of all the spices in the world, we have such an abiding attachment to these two. Why not pepper and cardamom, say, or salt and cinnamon?"

          Such a simple observation and questions about ordinary things led to this fascinating book.

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