Smell: A Very Short Introduction by Matthew Cobb (Oxford University Press)
Part of a fantastic series by Oxford University Press, here’s an easy to read and very accessible intro to the incredibly nuanced, complicated and still much misunderstood sense. An overview of ‘the science and physiology of smell and its historical, cultural, and environmental significance,’ Cobb reveals exactly what happens in our brains when we smell something, and how our human olfactory processes differ from those of mammals, birds, and insects. ‘The connection between smell and memory is more than a literary conceit’ Cobb shows, ‘with smells proving more effective than images at unlocking memories.’ Cobb does a good job of explaining how ‘The same odour can have different meanings to different people. Smells themselves are often blends, and our reactions to them are influenced by our memories and cultural conditioning,’ as well as asking bigger questions, such as: ‘Is there a link between smell and genetics?’ Although we’ve said it’s accessible, that doesn’t mean it skimps on taking scent seriously, and this book can be read by those interested in smell and fragrance at most levels of understanding – from complete novice to the already well-read. It’s also a great gift for friends and family members who perhaps don’t ‘get’ why we’re so obsessed with smells.
Get it at Oxford University Press