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A Natural History of the Senses Paperback – September 10, 1991
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"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.
Top customer reviews
Diane Ackerman with non-fictional work.
A Natural History of the Senses is a nonfictional piece of work sharing a wide view of all the five senses for eploring the world. Describing about the common situations when sensing the world and explaining how these senses work, Ackerman expands the perception of the senses.
The book is about humen, sensing the world through their five senses. Ackerman accomplishes to expand the readers ideas about senses. With an incredible amount of knowledge and thoughts almost like from the different planet, the book succeed to suprise even the most experienced readers.
The book handles all the senses one at the time with a wide variety of perspectives. One might say that the text loses its plot from time to time floating from a subject to another through a long path of thoughts. However, actually it is the best ability of the book of being different than any other novel. The text sucks the reader to its world with extremely detailed describing about experiences and feelings through aforisms, ideas, examples, and explanations of thefunctions of the senses. Five chapters and five senses in the book. One by one the texts discusses about every area what could be imagined when talking about senses in a scientifict and a secular point of view.
The colorfulness of the text is one of the main reasons, why this book succeeds to force a reader to imagine, go back to their own experiences and enjoy these feelings all over again.
There is no doubt that this piece would leave some-one cold with its rich scheme and colorful language. It might be hard to follow the thoughts from time to time, sometimes the text feels like brainstorming, and the message might be under the rock, but with immersing to the book with full passion the message comes out. Every chapter differs from another with their structures, which makes the reading experience to be enjoyable, altought, I had to concentrate sometimes to see the complete analogy. It was very hard to be critical because the book was written with great skill. What is the source of all this knowledge? Some of the arguments might be considered lacking important information or being just an individual experiences not shared by every person, for example one thing that got me was ”the one sure thing I learned about sophomore boys is that they’re all decibel and testosterone” (Ackerman, p. 186). This is just a generalization followed by other feelings about their music and taste, of which didn’t occur to her.
All in all I believe that with precise describing and new kinds of ideas this is a great work, a master piece that doesn’t have compeers. The book had a influence on me by opening my world to new kind of sensing. I would definitely reccommend to read this book wether just for fun or to see a complete thought about humen sensing the world around between the green colored covers.
Ackerman, Diane. A Natural History of The Senses. New York: Random House, 1990. Print.
Each chapter reveals the intricacies of the topic at hand except the last two chapters seem slightly off focus. At times Diane Ackerman deviates wildly from her chosen topic and then gets back on track. For example, while discussing vision she ends up talking about weather patterns.
Through this book you may discover how kissing originated or why tea is harmful without milk. Why do woman crave pickles during pregnancy? What motivates people to watch horror movies?
Diane Ackerman is well traveled and has a inquisitive mind. I enjoyed reading new information about chocolate, vanilla and truffles. If you like to keep yourself fortified with useful information then this book is destined to please.
~The Rebecca Review
The book itself has been a wonderful read- the author balances scientific research with historical studies with her own interesting personal anecdotes. Her writing style is flowery, but not unpleasantly so. A sensory delight and inspiring read!
Most recent customer reviews
I bought it as a scientific discussion of the senses, and it falls far short of that mark, providing only scant facts.Read more