The Smell of Fresh Rain (Paperback)
The Unexpected Pleasures of Our Most Elusive Sense
Icon Books, 9781785783418, 304pp.
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
What do we actually mean when we say that something smells of fresh paint? Or frying bacon? And what does five o clock in the morning smell like?
Inspired by an unsettlingly synaesthesic question put to him by his son, Barney Shaw looks into the science of smell: peering behind its sensory nature to discover its complexities, and finding surprising beauty in its processes.
We use smells to communicate, to warn us of danger, to give us a sense of place, and as a form of social messaging - it is one of the primary ways in which a mother bonds to her kin, for example. But smell has other, less obvious uses: a sniff of peppermint can increase alertness and productivity, and introducing a slight whiff of fish oil into the environment will make people scrutinise information more closely.
An investigation into the biology, psychology and history of smell, and a search for effective ways to describe things we instantly relate to, but find strangely ineffable, The Smell of Fresh Rain, includes a 200-entry thesaurus of succinct descriptions of common smells.