Review: A Million Years in a Day – Greg Jenner
I came across this book at the launch of the first Hillingdon Literary Festival back in 2015. Greg Jenner was the invited author of the evening (his brother Seb being the person behind the event).
Never having heard of Greg Jenner before, my ears perked up when Horrible Histories was mentioned – anathema to my professional historian ears – but he deserved a chance to be heard. I was sufficiently impressed to try one of his history books, never a Horrible History, and invested in A Million Years in a Day, which I only got to read in 2018.
Given how well Greg came across as a speaker, I was surprised at how slow and tedious I initially found the book, but having got through the first few chapters, it did seem to pick up pace. Perhaps this was done on purpose reflecting how he feels in the morning, only really getting going later in the day. For those who haven’t read the book, it simply (!) takes a day from the moment we wake to going back to bed (it is a Saturday) and explores the history of all the things we do and use, from toothbrushes to toilets, beds, clothing and food.
It’s not a book I’ll be putting on my ‘to read again when I ever get a chance’ list, but it will be staying relatively handy for its content and snippets of wonderfully useless information which can be dropped into conversation and talks to prove a point. There are ‘grand narratives’ but this is the first I’ve come across which deals with everyday life in a concise and recognisable manner.
It’s definitelly worth a read for those interested in how we got to where we are today in terms of daily habits and practices.