A Natural History of the Senses and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $16.95
  • Save: $6.01 (35%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Minor signs of wear. Eligible for FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping. Amazon Customer Service 24/7 with Delivery Tracking. Receive Your Item in 3-5 Business Days!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Natural History of the Senses Paperback – September 10, 1991


See all 29 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$10.94
$8.22 $0.01


Frequently Bought Together

A Natural History of the Senses + A Natural History Of Love
Price for both: $24.07

Buy the selected items together
  • A Natural History Of Love $13.13

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 10, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679735666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679735663
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"One of the real tests of writers," notes Ackerman in this liveliest of nature books, "is how well they write about smells. If they can't describe the scent of sanctity in a church, can you trust them to describe the suburbs of the heart?" Ackerman passes the test, writing with ease and fluency about the five senses. Did you know that bat guano smells like stale Wheat Thins? That Bach's music can quell anger around the world? That the leaves that shimmer so beautifully in fall have "no adaptive purpose"? Ackerman does, and she guides us through questions of sensation with an eye for the amusingly arcane reference and just the right phrase.

From Publishers Weekly

Physiology and philosophy mesh in this poetic investigation of the five senses; essays explore synesthesia, food taboos, kissing and the power and diversity of music. "Rooted in science, enlivened by her own convincing sense of wonder, Ackerman's essays awaken us to a fresh awareness," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly-acclaimed works of poetry and nonfiction, including the bestsellers "The Zookeeper's Wife" and "A Natural History of the Senses," and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist, "One Hundred Names for Love."

In her most recent book, "The Human Age: the World Shaped by Us," she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the whole planet. Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the inspiring people and ideas now creating, and perhaps saving, our future

A note from the author: "I find that writing each book becomes a mystery trip, one filled with mental (and sometimes physical) adventures. The world revealing itself, human nature revealing itself, is seductive and startling, and that's always been fascinating enough to send words down my spine. Please join me on my travels. I'd enjoy the company."

Contact me or follow my posts here: www.dianeackerman.com, @dianesackerman, www.facebook.com/dianeackerman.author



Customer Reviews

Ackerman brilliantly weaves science, history, anthropology, and personal anecdotes in this incredible book.
L. King
I'd recommend this as a great gift for anyone interested in nonfiction writing, nature writing, learning new things, science, the senses, and lovely reads!
Meredith
Being profoundly interested in the human experience I was drawn to the writing of Diane Ackerman and A Natural History of Senses.
Nathan D. Rice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By czimm@sfsu.edu on December 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
When I first read Diane Ackerman's book it opened my eyes, just as these other reviews testify. It does seem to be a book people either love or hate (I have some friends who thought it was sentimental babbling) but that doesn't change how extravagantly Ackerman uses language itself to convey the lush world of the senses. I teach a creative writing course at SFSU and I use the book to promote both that poetic description and the possibilities for experience and awareness the book evokes. An excellent example of the ways poetry can be used to explain science and experience.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
After reading a few of Ackerman's New Yorker pieces, as well as The Moon by Whale Light and her contribution to Sisters of the Earth, I knew I would eventually read all of her books. A Natural History of the Senses does not disappoint. It flows like cool water through literature, history, music, politics, philosophy, and poetry. As a writer, I appreciate this book as a resource of my own, a way to deepen my understanding of our sensory appreciation of the world - but also as an example of beautiful writing by a master of the craft.
In a nutshell, I wish Diane Ackerman lived next door to me.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Shaun Roundy on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
The best writing I have ever read. Totally engaging essays that will not only teach you more than you ever thought there was to know about our five senses (and more!) but will also make you laugh out loud because the writing is that good. Your world will never be the same again--or should I say, you will never see your world the same way. You will forever be more aware of the stunning intricacy, simplicity, and beauty of life that surrounds us.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Duncan Berry on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Imagine having a witty and informed guided tour of one's own sensory apparatus! That is what Ackerman offers. By turns intensely intellectual and cybaritic, the result is an irresistable romp through the world of newly magnified familiarities.

Some gems: chocolate as "an emotional food" (p. 154). "Hands are messengers of emotion" (p. 118). "The tongue is like a kingdom divided into principalities according to sensory talent" (p. 139).

And on page 20: "Smell was the first of our senses, and it was so successful that in time the small lump of olfactory tissue atop the nerve cord grew into a brain. Our cerebral hemispheres were originally buds from the olfactory stalks. We THINK because we SMELLED."

Highly recommended. A terrific mental flight while trying to endure air travel!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By George Grella VINE VOICE on December 4, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is an entirely personal response, but this is one of the most important books I've read. For anyone who tries to live actively through their senses, experiencing the world around them and incorporating a sense memory, this book will satisfy powerful, intuitive feelings. It has just enough science to explain and fascinate, the rest is clear, resonant stories of sensual experience. There is a lucid, sincere and powerful feeling of sheer joy about that book, the joy Ackerman finds in her own experience and her pleasure and sharing, but the book never tips into the sentimental.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on June 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Essayist and poet Diane Ackerman is probably best known for her wonderful New Yorker articles on her investigations of the animal kingdom (including extraordinarily memorable pieces on bats and penguins), most of which have been collected in books. In those acclaimed essays, her idiosyncratic and emotive musings transform the behaviors of other creatures to a human and humane understanding while avoiding anthropomorphic traps.

In "A Natural History of the Senses," Ackerman shifts her considerable observational skills from the animal realm to more familiar human territory. She divides her discussion into the five senses, plus a short section on "synesthesia"; in spite of the book's title, there's not much history involved. Somewhat like her essays on nature, each chapter includes random observations, anecdotes, and thoughts on the various aspects of the topic at hand.

Some of Ackerman's morsels are first-class, and she seems particularly to hit her stride in the section on "Taste." Her distinctive wit is on full display when she discusses the food endured by survivalists, such as a recipe for moose soup: "I particularly like the recipe's opening: 'You've just killed a moose.' It reminds me of recipe I read for stir-fried dog, which began: 'First clean and eviscerate a healthy puppy.'" Her book is a pleasure in such instances, when it reads like a turbo-charged entry of an encyclopedia, explaining "why polar bears are not white" or pondering the aesthetics of full-body tattoos or interviewing a human "nose" for a fragrance manufacturer or investigating the importance of touch for the healthy development of prematurely born infants.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Avery Christy on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Do not confuse this book for science or hard fact. 'A Natural History of the Senses' is a well done book of lyrical prose that is meant to be relaxed with and enjoyed. Diane Ackerman is quite possibly a lyrical stylist that, much like any past writer, uses the conciousness of her time to bring alive the beliefs, feelings, and concerns that she and others face in their lifetime. Using delightful and fascinating information integrated with insight and stunning language, she makes one become more aware of the senses that we sometimes take for granted.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?