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Smell is the most emotional and evocative of our senses: it can bring back memories faster and with more immediacy than a photograph – so why is it so little understood?
Armed with a hungry curiosity and a willingness to self-experiment, author Barney Shaw goes in search of the hidden meanings of smells. Using plain words to describe what he finds, he investigates the chemistry, psychology, history and future of this underappreciated sense.
Journeying around boatyards, perfume shops and memories, Shaw opens your nose to the world, breaking down "chords" of smells into their component notes and through them revealing new ways of understanding the spaces through which we move.
An investigation into the biology, psychology and history of smell, and a search for effective ways to put into words scents that we instantly relate to, but find strangely ineffable, The Smell of Fresh Rain includes a 200-entry thesaurus of succinct descriptions of common smells.
Barney Shaw is an artist and former civil servant. He was Private Secretary to several Labour and Conservative Ministers, and went on to run government policy on, various aspects of work, unemployment and schools. This is his first book.
"The inclusion of a thesaurus which provides accessible definitions of everyday smells is useful and informative and allows the reader to develop their own pleasing language to give voice to the tantalisingly mysterious world of scent. His guidance and advice around how to develop one's sense of smell is clear and relatable and ensures you are left sniffing the world around you long after you finish the final page. This is a fascinating, engrossing adventure guided by passionate and thoughtful insights from Shaw which will keep you riveted throughout. A must have for those of you who have ever looked past the end of your nose and wondered about its olfactory brilliance."