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A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life

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"One of my all time favourite books about history: erudite, witty and packed with things you've never thought about" (DR PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World ----------------- Structured around one ordinary modern Saturday, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. I "One of my all time favourite books about history: erudite, witty and packed with things you've never thought about" (DR PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World ----------------- Structured around one ordinary modern Saturday, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history, peppered with amusing pop culture references, Greg Jenner explores the gradual and often unexpected evolution of our daily routines. This is not a story of politics, wars or great events, instead Greg Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising and sometimes downright silly nuggets from our past. Drawn from across the world, spanning a million years of humanity, this book is a smorgasbord of historical delights. It is a history of all those things you always wondered - and many you have never considered. It is the story of your life, one million years in the making. The UK paperback edition (2016) is revised and updated with extra facts. OTHER REVIEWS: "If you find yourself secretly relishing your children's Horrible Histories books, you will love Greg Jenner's jolly account of how we have more in common with our ancestors than we might think ... all human life is here, amusingly conveyed in intriguing nuggets of gossipy historical anecdote" (DAILY MAIL) "A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice, Greg Jenner is as witty as he is knowledgeable" (TOM HOLLAND) "Delightful, surprising and hilarious, this is a fascinating history of the everyday objects and inventions we take for granted" (LAUREN LAVERNE) "Greg Jenner's magpie mind takes you through the history of who we are and what we do, answering tons of questions you never thought to ask" (AL MURRAY) "Like visiting the most wonderful and cluttered museum, each chapter like another room teetering with illuminating ideas and information" (ROBIN INCE) "Hugely entertaining...full of astonishing insights" (HISTORY REVEALED MAGAZINE) "Jenner has a vivid, colloquial turn of phrase...lively, funny and completely absorbing" (CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE)


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"One of my all time favourite books about history: erudite, witty and packed with things you've never thought about" (DR PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World ----------------- Structured around one ordinary modern Saturday, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. I "One of my all time favourite books about history: erudite, witty and packed with things you've never thought about" (DR PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World ----------------- Structured around one ordinary modern Saturday, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history, peppered with amusing pop culture references, Greg Jenner explores the gradual and often unexpected evolution of our daily routines. This is not a story of politics, wars or great events, instead Greg Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising and sometimes downright silly nuggets from our past. Drawn from across the world, spanning a million years of humanity, this book is a smorgasbord of historical delights. It is a history of all those things you always wondered - and many you have never considered. It is the story of your life, one million years in the making. The UK paperback edition (2016) is revised and updated with extra facts. OTHER REVIEWS: "If you find yourself secretly relishing your children's Horrible Histories books, you will love Greg Jenner's jolly account of how we have more in common with our ancestors than we might think ... all human life is here, amusingly conveyed in intriguing nuggets of gossipy historical anecdote" (DAILY MAIL) "A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice, Greg Jenner is as witty as he is knowledgeable" (TOM HOLLAND) "Delightful, surprising and hilarious, this is a fascinating history of the everyday objects and inventions we take for granted" (LAUREN LAVERNE) "Greg Jenner's magpie mind takes you through the history of who we are and what we do, answering tons of questions you never thought to ask" (AL MURRAY) "Like visiting the most wonderful and cluttered museum, each chapter like another room teetering with illuminating ideas and information" (ROBIN INCE) "Hugely entertaining...full of astonishing insights" (HISTORY REVEALED MAGAZINE) "Jenner has a vivid, colloquial turn of phrase...lively, funny and completely absorbing" (CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE)

30 review for A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra can see again but through a smoky lens

    I haven't got anything to add to what I wrote whilst reading the book. Except it's very forgettable. Not a substantial tome but for someone interested in a light and entertaining presentation of history by a light and entertaining author, you might really enjoy this book. It's not a bad book just one where the style was at odds with the content and I found that very disconcerting. In other words, it drove me mad. This is my car book. It's kind of giving me car rage. The author is obviously tremen I haven't got anything to add to what I wrote whilst reading the book. Except it's very forgettable. Not a substantial tome but for someone interested in a light and entertaining presentation of history by a light and entertaining author, you might really enjoy this book. It's not a bad book just one where the style was at odds with the content and I found that very disconcerting. In other words, it drove me mad. This is my car book. It's kind of giving me car rage. The author is obviously tremendously erudite and in a few short chapters I've learned quite a bit (about the development of the identity and measuring of time mostly) but he is such a horrible writer and narrator it's driving me mad. It's as if he thinks that he must appeal to the lower orders, the masses who don't know any science or history by throwing in lots of stupid little jokey bits in various sorts of slang. See he's one of 'us' not an intellectual at all. An example, "Cleopatra and her man were knocking ugly bits". Talking about neanderthals and early humans how they wouldn't have the pleasure of "riding in a finely-tuned Mercedes or secretly listening to Bon Jovi." I'm hoping for either improvement (I don't really think it will) or that the history will be interesting enough that I just sigh and get used to the excreble asides.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Since it's still August and therefore still History Month for me, I spiced things up with this hilarious non-fiction book. Basically, it goes into detail about our daily routine and where many things come from by looking at one day (a Saturday, thank goodness, or we'd have had to talk about work - URGH!). The chapters are divided into hours of the day, starting at 9:30am and ending at midnight. We look at getting up, the concept of time, bathrooms and bowel movements, clothing (sadly, nothing abo Since it's still August and therefore still History Month for me, I spiced things up with this hilarious non-fiction book. Basically, it goes into detail about our daily routine and where many things come from by looking at one day (a Saturday, thank goodness, or we'd have had to talk about work - URGH!). The chapters are divided into hours of the day, starting at 9:30am and ending at midnight. We look at getting up, the concept of time, bathrooms and bowel movements, clothing (sadly, nothing about shoes, I would have liked a sub-chapter about them), pets, communication and news, eating, alcohol, social interactions, dental hygiene and many other things. While looking at our habits, the author doesn't just pick one continent, country or time period but ALL OF HISTORY. Which gives a unique look at our evolution, progress and setbacks, and makes for a compelling study. What makes this book so unique is the author. And I don't just mean in the audio form I used (he narrates it himself and is REALLY good at it). Greg Jenner has a fantastic sense of humour that makes this book so very entertaining while being extremely informative. This adds to the prejudice of Brits always being funny after he himself scolded his countrymen for actually helping a prejudice by being the tea-enthusiasts everyone says they are. *lol* I knew quite a lot of the facts he was talking about and will have to look one up in particular because I learned about it slightly differently (yes, I'm talking about the sponges on a stick Romans used instead of toilet paper), but it was still great to hear about it from him and in the context he presented the facts. Some other things I simply know because they are part of my daily life - like how dinner is perceived in Italy (a social event rather than just getting nutrients into our system) and I really think that every chapter has things people recognize from their own daily routines which makes this so relatable and therefore thrilling. Many other facts I had not known about: like Genghis Khan actually counteracting global warming (by killing so many people - no humans meant no farming meant forests regrowing meant more oxygen) or the staggering amount of people being killed due to extreme alcohol consumption less than two hundred years ago! Thus, I was constantly entertained and curious. Of course it was sometimes a bit ... unappetizing ... to read about certain things like the chapter about oral hygiene, but it was so very interesting! Humans have always been a weird bunch so there are a lot of almost incredibly funny / ironic anecdotes to tell - like the (actual historical figure) poop merchant who died when his toilet seat broke and he drowned in his own excrements. I mean, you just can't make this stuff up! :D And Greg Jenner always had a joke to crack (about Trump, about Jane Austen, about Star Wars, ...) and anyone who can work that into a non-fiction history book deserves all the credit I can give. Moreover, I love how (in the acknowledgements) the author pays tribute to historians and how they work => discovering, then sharing their discoveries so all can use that knowledge to further build upon those findings and therefore, like on a staircase, steadily progressing. And let's face it: some discoveries are just too good to be true (humans have always been a weird bunch)! He also included a fantastic reading list at the back with books he used for research that I will have to check out!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    For what this is, (a witty accounting of technological progress through recorded history,) it's quite excellent. Of course, you must be naturally curious and willing to put up with a lot of excrement jokes, too, but hey! That's what history is all about! A never-ending avalanche of shit. Well, maybe I'm mostly talking about the Medievals, but the Renaissance and even the Romans were pretty gross. Oh my. Don't get me wrong, it's not all about social advancement without soap or where to put your fece For what this is, (a witty accounting of technological progress through recorded history,) it's quite excellent. Of course, you must be naturally curious and willing to put up with a lot of excrement jokes, too, but hey! That's what history is all about! A never-ending avalanche of shit. Well, maybe I'm mostly talking about the Medievals, but the Renaissance and even the Romans were pretty gross. Oh my. Don't get me wrong, it's not all about social advancement without soap or where to put your feces. We've also got telephones and clocks, too! Yay! :) You see, it's not *entirely* accurate to boil down our technological advances to clean linen and bums. Just mostly. Seriously, this should be a must read for anyone interested in history and science, but if you're already pretty conversant, it's still a fun read just for the wit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Coming at you hard and fast with silly jokes and more than you ever wanted to know about the history of various human bodily functions, this (audio)book proves that history doesn't have to be gravely serious to be valuable. While it's not breaking new ground, it does provide a humorous examination of the lens of familiarity/difference through which we view the past. After all, isn't that where the interesting questions sit? But even accounting for the limitations of the historical record, can we Coming at you hard and fast with silly jokes and more than you ever wanted to know about the history of various human bodily functions, this (audio)book proves that history doesn't have to be gravely serious to be valuable. While it's not breaking new ground, it does provide a humorous examination of the lens of familiarity/difference through which we view the past. After all, isn't that where the interesting questions sit? But even accounting for the limitations of the historical record, can we ever really know people from another time and place? It's certainly difficult (impossible?) to understand people as they really were, to comprehend their ways of thinking or the actions they took. Sometimes individuals, groups, or even whole societies seem just like us, sometimes there feels like an unbridgeable distance, and sometimes there's a blend of both. But there are undoubtedly some things we all share. Let's imagine going to the toilet. Yes, we're going there. If you're already wincing reading this review, just know that there's WAY more of this in the book. So, the toilet. We all have to do it. You probably don't much think about it. Even if you do, it probably seems obvious that whatever way you do it is the right way to do it. Maybe it hasn't even occurred to you that there's any other way. Except if you reflect on it for just a minute, it doesn't hold up. Modern societies/cultures have different toilet habits or facilities, we even argue about details like whether the toilet roll over or under...(over)... it goes on and on. There's so much more to shitting than you might imagine. And that's now. So let's add in the whole of humanity's past. All sorts of strange (to me) things start to appear. For example, you might imagine the normalised bathroom privacy many of us (in the UK at least) expect today is CLEARLY the best way to go. Well according to our way of thinking, sure. But that's not how it always was. Or is for all I know. [In fact, now that I think about it there's a horrible advert on English tv right now with a man sitting (shitting) on a toilet while a woman is in the bath... so who the hell knows what's normal **shudder**]. Anyway, you might have heard of the Groom of the Stool, a privileged position about as close to the monarch as you could get. That proximity allowed all kinds of influence. Gross, maybe, but understandable. But what about when you think of the beautiful palace of Versailles? Do you imagine people shitting and pissing in hallways? I certainly didn't. It happened so much they had to set up a weekly clear out. IMAGINE!!!! Is that what comes to mind when you picture the majestic palace of the Sun King? Wading through bodily waste. The smell of it? This is not what they taught me in school. It's so much more fun than that. History shouldn't be reverential, it should be real. Or as close to it as we can get. That's the beauty of it, of course. Dirty, grim reality might not be as impressive as the sparkle, but it's closer to most people's lived experience. French high society might have been wearing gold and jewels but their shoes and skirts could well have been crusty with shit and urine. But don't think it's been uphill all the way since then. That's not how things work. The Indus Valley Civilisation of northwestern India and Pakistan had the kind of urban sanitation systems the people at Versailles desperately needed, and that was the 3rd millennium BCE. The notion of linear human progression, whether that be scientific, technological, moral... actually by pretty much any means we use to measure society is proved by this book to be utter bollocks. What's amazing is that it does so whilst avoiding being bogged down by the kind of weighty issues that make watching paint dry a serious contender for a damn good time. 'Progress' is a backwards and forwards thing, a piecemeal, sometimes collaborative, sometimes individualist evolution that comes from all over the world and across time. It's a reminder that there are ways of living, not one right way. Wherever we are, whoever we are, the way we live is a construction, it's something that changes and can be changed. What Greg Jenner does well here is bring this grand scale thinking closer to home. Right into our dull daily lives. Change has always been part of being human, but some challenges remain. Perhaps looking outside our own ways of thinking could offer surprising answers. One last thing. This book was made for audio. I'm not sure it would have been quite so amusing without the genuine cheer of the the author and his ability to give even the most juvenile jokes a bit of life. It was fun and it made me think, an effective combination that brought Horrible Histories its huge success, and now makes this a worthy listen. Though perhaps not while eating. Trust me on this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    A clever idea for giving historical refs to our daily lives, so that the subject of breakfast touches on the history of domesticated chickens, bread, meal traditions etc. Very much in the "amusing overview that gives you funny facts" school of Horrible Histories for adults . Unfortunately it falls between two stools: it just isn't very funny to my mind, and I am unconvinced how reliable the history is (e.g. the old "spend a penny cones from the toilets at the Great Exhibition" story has been com A clever idea for giving historical refs to our daily lives, so that the subject of breakfast touches on the history of domesticated chickens, bread, meal traditions etc. Very much in the "amusing overview that gives you funny facts" school of Horrible Histories for adults . Unfortunately it falls between two stools: it just isn't very funny to my mind, and I am unconvinced how reliable the history is (e.g. the old "spend a penny cones from the toilets at the Great Exhibition" story has been comprehensively disproved but here it is again). Also needed an editor, if only to remove all the ellipses from the ends of paragraphs... Not doing it for me, DNF.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    The wonderful thing about history is that no matter how much you know, you can never truly know it all. The scope is just too vast. This brilliant book looks at a 24 hour cycle in our modern life and asks the question "why do we do that?" and "where did it come from?". Starting with getting up in the morning, it follows a person doing normal things..but looks at it from the perspective of "Why are we so fascinated with keeping time?" (blame the monks and their different calls to prayer) to "why The wonderful thing about history is that no matter how much you know, you can never truly know it all. The scope is just too vast. This brilliant book looks at a 24 hour cycle in our modern life and asks the question "why do we do that?" and "where did it come from?". Starting with getting up in the morning, it follows a person doing normal things..but looks at it from the perspective of "Why are we so fascinated with keeping time?" (blame the monks and their different calls to prayer) to "why do we eat eggs?", "why do we wear clothes", etc. Utterly fascinating and full of information that came as a surprise even to me. I was aware of many of things, but there was a tremendous range of topics that I had little to no clue about. This book was so well done that I went out and bought a copy after returning the library copy. The author has a great wit and explains a great deal of topics easily and avoids pretentious "I'm soooooo educated" language. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys history or just wants to know why the modern world is the way it is. I can't say enough good things about this book. Even if you think history is boring (shame on you for being a fool) you will still like this book as it goes a long way towards explaining how nearly EVERYTHING we do has a historical reference and background. I must also credit the humor, a few books in my life have made me smile-but it is a truly rare book that makes me laugh out loud. This is one of them. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    Historical tidbits, humorously collected and compellingly presented. How do the ordinary things done in a single day compare to those of 100, 1000, or 10,000 years ago? Topics include Time, Toilets, Food, Pets, Communication, Clothes, Beds, Alcohol and Dental Hygiene. Recommended! Not intended to be a complete history of everything and anything, this still has a lot of information while also being quite a bit of fun. I listened to the audiobook version, read by the author, and the wit is perfectl Historical tidbits, humorously collected and compellingly presented. How do the ordinary things done in a single day compare to those of 100, 1000, or 10,000 years ago? Topics include Time, Toilets, Food, Pets, Communication, Clothes, Beds, Alcohol and Dental Hygiene. Recommended! Not intended to be a complete history of everything and anything, this still has a lot of information while also being quite a bit of fun. I listened to the audiobook version, read by the author, and the wit is perfectly presented. Additionally, Jenner has a link on his website to the extensive bibliography, in case you want to delve deeper into any particular subject. http://www.gregjenner.com/a-million-y... 4 stars, rounded up for the audiobook version. I would recommend this book to anybody, and especially my dentist. Wonder if I can find a copy before I see him next Monday?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    3.5 stars. I feel as if the title put me in the wrong mindset for this book. was devoted to the how humans learned how to use private bathrooms. That is actually a subject I was extremely curious about. I even looked for books that addressed the origin of private bathrooms, private bedrooms, private houses. It wasn't easy to find information on that; so, I should have been happy to find this. But, I was mostly annoyed by the writing. The author thought he was funnier than I thought he was. Aside 3.5 stars. I feel as if the title put me in the wrong mindset for this book. was devoted to the how humans learned how to use private bathrooms. That is actually a subject I was extremely curious about. I even looked for books that addressed the origin of private bathrooms, private bedrooms, private houses. It wasn't easy to find information on that; so, I should have been happy to find this. But, I was mostly annoyed by the writing. The author thought he was funnier than I thought he was. Aside from not really liking his writing style, I did learn a lot about the history of wealth, power, clothing, bathing, the toilet, and more. So many of the histories tied back to Queen Elizabeth, which ended up being particularly satisfying.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hartzer

    A fun book. For example, I was unaware that the Tower Bridge in London used to have 'facilities' that emptied out directly over the Thames, (and the passing boats below). Gross, but pretty funny when you think about it. A good book for teens. A fun book. For example, I was unaware that the Tower Bridge in London used to have 'facilities' that emptied out directly over the Thames, (and the passing boats below). Gross, but pretty funny when you think about it. A good book for teens.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Immensely entertaining and educational! The author walks us through a typical day, and discusses the history of the key parts of the day from keeping time to brushing teeth to breakfast to food to going to sleep. I really enjoyed this!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    I was drawn to the idea of a book describing a 'day in the life' and using this as the structure for investigations into how and why we do the things we do. So many aspects of our 'ordinary day' are completely taken for granted - sleeping through the night, waking up at dawn or when the alarm goes etc. Jenner goes through the evolution of our daily rituals. We get mini histories of topics as diverse as toilets, champagne, manners and dental hygiene. Humorous, clever, always interesting and never p I was drawn to the idea of a book describing a 'day in the life' and using this as the structure for investigations into how and why we do the things we do. So many aspects of our 'ordinary day' are completely taken for granted - sleeping through the night, waking up at dawn or when the alarm goes etc. Jenner goes through the evolution of our daily rituals. We get mini histories of topics as diverse as toilets, champagne, manners and dental hygiene. Humorous, clever, always interesting and never patronising, I learnt loads! I also have a lot of respect for the research that has gone into a book like this, even if there are errors (Hadrian's Wall is NOT in Scotland!!).

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Elizondo

    I love History and random facts so I thought I would love this book, but I was pretty disappointed. Each topic drags on and seems to be filled with useless banter from the author. Like many other reviews mention, this author tries to be funny and witty, but most of the jokes fall flat and just add to the dragging. There is also a lack of consistency in how much topics are covered. Some of the information about the subjects are short, while others were so long and unnecessarily detailed that I go I love History and random facts so I thought I would love this book, but I was pretty disappointed. Each topic drags on and seems to be filled with useless banter from the author. Like many other reviews mention, this author tries to be funny and witty, but most of the jokes fall flat and just add to the dragging. There is also a lack of consistency in how much topics are covered. Some of the information about the subjects are short, while others were so long and unnecessarily detailed that I got bored and closed the book. There are some good educational moments, but the delivery is inefficient and not very entertaining. Your money is probably best spent elsewhere.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    This book was a joy to read. So much interesting information about everyday objects, so I feel a bit wiser after reading it. It was also funny, my humor exactly!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Reader

    A brilliant, informative, funny book with a very clever structure taking you through a modern day whilst explaining how the individual components, such as beds or alarm clocks, have evolved through history. Great for interesting little facts to start conversations / annoy people with, such as that up until 2011 women were legally banned from wearing trousers in Paris except when on a bike or horse! Crazy. The day I finished this I had went to a talk by the author about the book which was excelle A brilliant, informative, funny book with a very clever structure taking you through a modern day whilst explaining how the individual components, such as beds or alarm clocks, have evolved through history. Great for interesting little facts to start conversations / annoy people with, such as that up until 2011 women were legally banned from wearing trousers in Paris except when on a bike or horse! Crazy. The day I finished this I had went to a talk by the author about the book which was excellent - Greg Jenner has a head crammed full of knowledge and yet still makes it funny and incredibly interesting for adults and children alike. In fact, a child at the end of his talk asked him if he could continue as it was 'so interesting', which was cute but also true - I'd love to hear him talk again and would highly recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This book sounded fascinating in the review I read. I should have liked it. However, I am not the reader Jenner is targeting. I think that audience is middle school boys. The language is way too cutesy and full of current cultural references to appeal to this retirement age woman. I did not finish the book but did get about half way through before the library wanted it back. It has short vignettes about the historical development of the items we use in every day life. The concept is definitely 4 This book sounded fascinating in the review I read. I should have liked it. However, I am not the reader Jenner is targeting. I think that audience is middle school boys. The language is way too cutesy and full of current cultural references to appeal to this retirement age woman. I did not finish the book but did get about half way through before the library wanted it back. It has short vignettes about the historical development of the items we use in every day life. The concept is definitely 4 or 5 star but the writing style is so irritating that I just could not plow through it for the interesting nuggets.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mac

    I had been very looking forward to this based off of reviews from other authors I enjoy. I found this to be a combination of an amateur historian and an amateur comedian. The book is targeted directly at an exclusively British slapstick humour audience and I struggled to complete it. In the end, I am not sure who this book was supposed to be for. It is too advanced for children, too amateurish for adults. Perhaps it targets a small group of teenagers just starting to get interested in history or c I had been very looking forward to this based off of reviews from other authors I enjoy. I found this to be a combination of an amateur historian and an amateur comedian. The book is targeted directly at an exclusively British slapstick humour audience and I struggled to complete it. In the end, I am not sure who this book was supposed to be for. It is too advanced for children, too amateurish for adults. Perhaps it targets a small group of teenagers just starting to get interested in history or comedy?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Loved this book. I found it fascinating, insightful and funny with a clever format. Lots of delicious factual nuggets that I attempt to wheel out whenever I can. The section on cornflakes alone was a revaluation! Fascinating to find out the roots of our daily tasks. Would and have recommended it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ken Rideout

    The writing style is breezy and bit too hyper for me. Many of the items are along the lines of "I wonder when we started to... or how we came to use...." which can be answered in one google search. Without buying into the theme of "a day in the life", I quickly lost interest in the nonstop, rapid fire series of quick answers to these questions. The writing style is breezy and bit too hyper for me. Many of the items are along the lines of "I wonder when we started to... or how we came to use...." which can be answered in one google search. Without buying into the theme of "a day in the life", I quickly lost interest in the nonstop, rapid fire series of quick answers to these questions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Crispina Kemp

    I don't review every book read. The fact I'm reviewing this should let you know it's worth a read. Greg sets out to trace the origins and development of the myriad items (and customs) encountered in a single day. My one complaint of the book is he sets this day to a Saturday. Thus work in its many aspects is avoided, as is the irksome business of commuting. However, the book does cover everything else from the common divisions of time and the calendar, to beds, and bedding, to all matters bathroo I don't review every book read. The fact I'm reviewing this should let you know it's worth a read. Greg sets out to trace the origins and development of the myriad items (and customs) encountered in a single day. My one complaint of the book is he sets this day to a Saturday. Thus work in its many aspects is avoided, as is the irksome business of commuting. However, the book does cover everything else from the common divisions of time and the calendar, to beds, and bedding, to all matters bathroom-related, to clothes and food, and alcohol and ... so many things more. Every aspect of living is covered in minute detail, with anecdotes and references, all humorously written. I'm the kind of reader who likes to catch the author in an error. But I could find nothing here. Except for the date he gives for beer-brewing. But then, this has only been revised this past couple of months. I'd recommend A Million Years in a Day to anyone with an interest in the minutiae of daily living, and especially to writers who want to construct settings true to their times.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    This is popular entertainment history at its best - interesting little anecdotes presented in an amusing manner, and collected together via the structure of a modern day. At each point in the day, Jenner delves back into the history of how that tradition/item/knowledge evolved. The topics are wide ranging - covering everything from alarm clocks to dentistry, telegraphs to clothing. There's many intriguing facts to show how the history of the day-to-day mundanities of our life is anything but mun This is popular entertainment history at its best - interesting little anecdotes presented in an amusing manner, and collected together via the structure of a modern day. At each point in the day, Jenner delves back into the history of how that tradition/item/knowledge evolved. The topics are wide ranging - covering everything from alarm clocks to dentistry, telegraphs to clothing. There's many intriguing facts to show how the history of the day-to-day mundanities of our life is anything but mundane. I'm a big fan of Jenner's 'You're Dead to Me' podcasts, so his voice and tongue-in-cheek delivery were very much in my head as I read. This is no footnoted, referenced academic work - but there's a detailed index and a useful bibliography for each chapter. ✅

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jbussen

    Author takes us through his day giving us interesting tid-bits about the history of what catches his fancy. If he's sitting on the throne, he's giving us the history of how people went throughout the ages. Not exactly Neanderthal to now, but close enough to be fun and interesting. Author may be erudite, but he feels to me like a (even more) sophomoric kind of Monty python. I've read about half and may read the other half. Sometime. Oh my oh my, how do I love my bathroom readers. Author takes us through his day giving us interesting tid-bits about the history of what catches his fancy. If he's sitting on the throne, he's giving us the history of how people went throughout the ages. Not exactly Neanderthal to now, but close enough to be fun and interesting. Author may be erudite, but he feels to me like a (even more) sophomoric kind of Monty python. I've read about half and may read the other half. Sometime. Oh my oh my, how do I love my bathroom readers.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vinayak Mishra

    A collection of historical backgrounds on a number of thing we encounter in our day-to-day lives, this book was a lot of fun! I'd recommend not reading it at a stretch though - it can get a little cumbersome since the chapters aren't linked. Also, the author tries to be too witty at times. Some of the UK centric jokes fall flat with a more global audience. A collection of historical backgrounds on a number of thing we encounter in our day-to-day lives, this book was a lot of fun! I'd recommend not reading it at a stretch though - it can get a little cumbersome since the chapters aren't linked. Also, the author tries to be too witty at times. Some of the UK centric jokes fall flat with a more global audience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daragh

    A brilliant, funny read! This book is brilliant - funny yet highly informative. A wonderful gift for the curious person in your life (me) and funny to boot. Buy it, then buy it for your friends and family!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patti Beck

    Fascinating way to look at the things we do. Great book for those who are interested in oddities and some history

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bec

    This has quite a bit of interesting historical tidbits and I like the premise. I do think this would be better as a tv documentary then reading it cover to cover, it's a bit wordy but would really work well live. This has quite a bit of interesting historical tidbits and I like the premise. I do think this would be better as a tv documentary then reading it cover to cover, it's a bit wordy but would really work well live.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben Palphramand

    A fun, playful and interesting read. If you're into history of any form, I think you'd enjoy this book. Greg Jenner is a very clever and funny writer, always keeping you hooked on the next word. A fun, playful and interesting read. If you're into history of any form, I think you'd enjoy this book. Greg Jenner is a very clever and funny writer, always keeping you hooked on the next word.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diantha

    A very interesting and funny read. I liked the variety of topics, and the whole concept lines up quite nicely with my interest in seeing history in everyday life. I felt like sometimes, the author tried a bit too much to be funny, and sometimes the jokes felt a bit stale (possibly because I frequently listen to his podcast too, so I'm familiar with his style). Nonetheless, it was entertaining, interesting and informative, which is a great thing in a non-fiction book! A very interesting and funny read. I liked the variety of topics, and the whole concept lines up quite nicely with my interest in seeing history in everyday life. I felt like sometimes, the author tried a bit too much to be funny, and sometimes the jokes felt a bit stale (possibly because I frequently listen to his podcast too, so I'm familiar with his style). Nonetheless, it was entertaining, interesting and informative, which is a great thing in a non-fiction book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Enjoyable, but hit a brick wall with about 100 pages left (Dinner chapter).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    Has the same sense of humor as the show Round Planet by BBC -- dry, quick witted British smirks. You get to smirk at plays on words while learning all about historical tid bits.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY: Like Having a Funny Brother Explain History http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... Having your younger brother relate the history of the world throughout the day! Listening to this book with it’s wry commentary is like having a funny younger brother tell you the history if the world. Sometimes that little brother is going to be stuck in the realm of that bathroom humor wherein it seems young males, in particular, seem to dwell well into their twenties. Other times it wi A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY: Like Having a Funny Brother Explain History http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... Having your younger brother relate the history of the world throughout the day! Listening to this book with it’s wry commentary is like having a funny younger brother tell you the history if the world. Sometimes that little brother is going to be stuck in the realm of that bathroom humor wherein it seems young males, in particular, seem to dwell well into their twenties. Other times it will seem like the truth being uttered “out of the mouths of babes.” But the droll narration from Matthew Lloyd Davies is excellent and spot on. While I found the analogy of history being related in terms of the actions we are likely to perform at different times of day, and with the idea the same rituals of waking up, using the loo, bathing, getting dress, etc., feels a little forced, it is a good way to look into the past as relevant, and linked, to contemporary society. It did drag on, what felt like forever, and I found myself wishing that the guy would go to bed early, as I made an assumption that it would be the end of the day and the book. But, for sure the man did his research and seems to know his stuff. He also has a lot of those stupid questions that we all really think about when someone talks about history (Yes, the castle is huge, but what did they do with their poo?). I have to say that occasionally it reminded me of a time when a professor walked into an Introduction to Rhetoric and Communication class one day, and after introduccing himself as a substitute for the day delivered the following with great enthusiasm, “Today’s lecture is about hawks.” This was, of course a joke, and the professor said he had always wanted to do that. It had the effect of engaging the lecture hall and getting out attention. Since that and one other idea is all I recall from the class, I think it was an effective strategy. I also think this would make a great mini-series on PBS along the lines of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s COSMOS, and would be a great (teens and up) family listen for a car trip. I enjoyed the book, and wish I had the opportunity to listen to it in smaller doses over a longer stretch of time (the reviewer’s curse ). It started to become too many facts to absorb at once. But it was also fun, and funny and felt like a lot of stories.

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