Current Reads: How to Be A Victorian

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The links in the cover images take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

How To Be A Victorian
How to Be A Victorian
By: Ruth Goodman
Genre: Non-fiction
First published in 2013

We know what life was like for Victoria and Albert. But what was it like for a commoner like you or me? How did it feel to cook with coal and wash with tea leaves? Drink beer for breakfast and clean your teeth with cuttlefish? Dress in whalebone and feed opium to the baby?

Moving through the rhythm of the day, from waking up to the sound of a knocker-upper man poking a stick at your window, to retiring for nocturnal activities, when the door finally closes on twenty four hours of life, this astonishing guide illuminates the overlapping worlds of health, sex, fashion, food, school, work and play.

I saw this at a bookstore and instantly went and – ordered it from the library! :D I’ve been pretty successful with buying less books. This non-fiction book seemed like something I’d really enjoy. It tells about the day to day lives of ordinary British people, focusing on the poor to upper middle class, I think. I was really sold by the structure of the book, with chapters starting from waking up and washing up, then going through the various daily activities, such as meals, and ending with going to bed.

I’ve read the first chapter, and it was very interesting. I learned for example that most Victorian people slept with their bedroom window open, even though their houses were cold, since they thought that carbon dioxide from their breath could fill up the room and end up poisoning them in their sleep! (It might have actually been a good practice because of the gas lamps and coal dust in their houses, though, you never know.)

I’m also reading

The Three Musketeers Ship of Magic
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb

I’m still in the middle of The Three Musketeers – I put it down at one point and now I should really pick it up again and finish it. I also started Ship of Magic as part of my 2014 High Fantasy Challenge.


10 thoughts on “Current Reads: How to Be A Victorian

  1. Oddly, we were all discussing the other day about what particular time period we’d like to go back to – I only went to something like the 1950s – the reason, if I’d have been born decades ago, I would have been the equivalent of a peasant, living in a hovel and probably would have died of the pox. A bit grim but more than likely true. I might be a princess in my mind (or when I read a book) but otherwise – nope!
    Lynn :D

    • I’d like to visit the Sun King’s court in French history. But you’re right – going back in time would not be very great unless you were one of the higher and mightier persons!

  2. The Victorian period would be fascinating- especially if you were a royal or wealthy. Otherwise maybe not so much. :) This looks really good, I may pick this one up.

    • Yep, visiting other time periods should almost always come with a “if I were wealthy” caveat. :D So far, so good, but I’m only at the beginning of the book. I’m reading it more leisurely, one chapter at a time.

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