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An extraordinary, strange, and startlingly beautiful exploration of smell, the least understood of our five senses
The nose on your face is the Buckingham Palace Guard of your body, the maitre d' of all taste, as well as the seducer of your imagination, and memory—and Jude Stewart has charmed them all into a wicked, poetic and illuminating tour of their mysterious domains. —Jack Hitt, author of Bunch of Amateurs
Overlapping with taste yet larger in scope, smell is the sense that comes closest to pure perception. Smell can collapse space and time, unlocking memories and transporting us to worlds both new and familiar. Yet as clearly as each of us can recognize different smells--the bright tang of citrus, freshly sharpened pencils, parched earth after rain--few of us understand how and why we smell.
In Revelations in Air, Jude Stewart takes us on a fascinating journey into the weird and wonderful world of smell. Beginning with lessons on the incredible biology and history of how our noses work, Stewart teaches us how to use our noses like experts. Once we're properly equipped and ready to sniff, Stewart explores a range of smells—from lavender, cut grass and hot chocolate to cannabis and old books—using smell as a lens into art, history, science, and more. With an engaging colorful design and exercises for readers to refine their own skills, Revelations in Air goes beyond science or history or chemistry--it's a doorway into the surprising, pleasurable, and unfamiliar landscape of smell.
About the Author
Jude Stewart writes about design and culture for Slate, the Believer, Fast Company, Design Observer and other publications. She is also a contributing editor at PRINT magazine. She is the author of ROY G. BIV and Patternalia. Stewart lives in Chicago.
"In Jude Stewart's witty, surprising, and jubilant romp through the most undervalued of the senses, you will encounter some of most rapturous descriptions of scent ever put on paper. But even more than that, Revelations in Air is an expansive and large-hearted consideration of friendship, memory, beauty, and the art of appreciation."
—Adrienne Miller, author of In the Land of Men.
"Revelations in Air manages to feel both breezy and substantial, exciting and informative—like an expertly guided tour of scents." –Jessie Gaynor, Lit Hub Senior Editor
"Journalist Stewart (Patternalia) takes olfaction seriously in this impassioned exploration of smell... What sets Stewart’s tour apart is her intense descriptions—jasmine has “an extraordinary sense of liftoff” that “rolls over you like a tidal wave,” and the smell of truffles is “heterodox, suggesting its own universe... packed with vibrant energy." —Publishers Weekly