Published: September 2017
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 beauty in its processes.
Shaw's popular science debut is an investigation into the biology, psychology and history of smell. It's also a search for effective ways to describe the kinds of smell we instantly relate to, but find strangely ineffable, and includes a 200-item thesaurus of succinct descriptions of common smells.
Journeying around boatyards, perfume shops and memories, Barney Shaw opens your nose, breaking down the "chords" of smells into component notes and revealing new ways of understanding the world around us.