Deb's Reviews > The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell

The Scent of Desire by Rachel Herz
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's review
Jun 17, 2012

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

**The nose knows**

Have you ever been immediately transported back in time with one quick whiff of a nostalgic smell? Do certain scents seem to give you a quick pick-me-up, while others make you want to get-the-heck out? Do some people's body orders turn you off while others' comfort you?

Although we may take it for granted, our sense of smell is core to our humanity, and flavors all aspects of our lives. In the words of the author, "Recognizing how essential scent is to our humanity--emotionally, physically, sexually, and socially--and how the experience of scent enriches, improves, and deepens our lives in multiplicative and multifaceted ways gives remarkable meaning to our lives." (p. 241).

Smell--our ultimate sense of desire--has "profound influence over how we act and react, taste and think, behave and love." (p. xvi) It deepens our emotional experiences, evokes powerful memories, activates our passions, influences our relationships and whom we find attractive (and even informs us of the best biological fit in a mate!), allows us to know ourselves better, and deeply affects our mental health, behaviors, and ability to learn and remember.

In _The Scent of Desire_, Rachel provides a comprehensive, and endlessly fascinating, tour de smell. Each of the eight chapters provides insight (or would that be inscent?) as to why our enigmatic sense of smell is so powerful:
***Chapter 1--The Sense of Desire
"Smells are surer than sights or sounds to make your heartstrings crack."--Nabokov
***Chapter 2--As You Like It
"A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet."--(not) Shakespeare
***Chapter 3--Scents of Time
"Wherever I am in the world, all I need is the smell of eucalyptus to recover the list world or Adrogue, which today no doubt exists only in my memory."--Jorge Luis Borges
***Chapter 4--Aroma and Therapy
"The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day."--Hippocrates
***Chapter 5--Scents and Sensuality
"I knew I was going to marry my husband the minute I first smelled him.."--Estelle Campenni, 1995 (psychology professor, Marywood University)
***Chapter 6--The Odor of the Other
"The lower classes smell."--George Orwell
***Chapter 7--Craving
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food."--George Bernard Shaw
***Chapter 8--A Whiff of the Future
"The nose of today knows no tomorrow.."--Rachel Herz

The author's hope for the book is that "everyone who reads this book will cease to take their sense of smell for granted. My wish is that from reading this book you will forever after truly make time to smell the roses, or the bacon, and relish all the wonders and gifts that the sense of smell has to offer...From reading this book you will not only have a much greater appreciation and understanding of your astonishing sense of smell, but will also know how to use it to improve and enrich your life in diverse ways." (pp. xvi-ii)

In my--and my nose's--humble opinion, she accomplishes her goals hands/nose down. I'd go so far as to say that the book is esscential (sic) reading for anyone who wants to be able to wake up and smell--that is, really, truly, deeply, and mindfully smell--the roses.
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