It being Library Week, let’s chat about depictions of home in literature.
For books strictly about the home, the hands-down best book I’ve read is Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
Bryson explores how the concept of home came to be — as in, how people invented houses. And how further inventions, like electric lighting, changed culture monumentally. It’s brilliant and insightful non-fiction and you won’t believe you overlooked a central part of life for so long — where we live.
One of my all-time favorite books is The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri. It’s a richly descriptive novel, but I specifically love that Vishnu goes into detail about several Indian households, and the main character’s childhood homes. It’s a very different look at life; families in an apartment building share a kitchen and squabble over stolen ghee, and as a group they hire the main character to be a servant to the building. It’s a perfect book for a bit of escapism.
Any book by Ray Bradbury is worth reading, but many give lovely, nostalgic descriptions of home. The Martian Chronicles calls up imaginative Martian homes as well as classic Americana and small town life. Dandelion Wine is an autobiographical description of Bradbury’s own childhood hometown. Bradbury’s pegged pretty solidly as a scifi writer, but you don’t have to be into science fiction to find something to love in his books.
All right, what else is out there? What books do you think of when you consider the idea of a home?