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Molly Birnbaum is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship in Arts and Culture from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and ARTnews magazine, and writes the popular food blog Molly's Madeleine (http://mollysmadeleine.blogspot.com/ ). This is her first book.
Author photo © Matt Mabe
August 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A road accident disrupted Molly Birnbaum’s sense of smell, and if that doesn’t sound too bad an outcome let her account of her road to recovery show you just what a devastation lack of smell can be. Imagine how horrible food would taste, not being able to smell the good things and the dangerous things, not being part of a society that values a sense of smell. Determined to find out just what has gone wrong her investigation takes in everything from brain development to the construction of perfumes. It’s a revelatory read, Molly Birnbaum’s journey reawakening in her readers a new thankfulness that they can always smell new bread baking, roses and chocolate, wine and lavender, linen and the sea. Like for Like ReadingThe Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, Luca TurinThe Scent Trail: A Journey of the Senses, Celia Lyttelton
When an accident obliterated Molly Birnbaum's sense of smell, it also destroyed her dream of becoming a chef, and sent her instead upon a brave and uncertain mission to reawaken her nose. Writing with emotional honesty, intellectual curiosity, and a foodie's feel for descriptive precision, she explores the science of olfaction and pheromones, ponders Proust's madeleine and her own scent memory, and quizzes psychologists, perfumiers, and ice-cream inventors, all in an effort to overcome her condition. From cinnamon and cedarwood to bacon and her boyfriend's shirt, we follow Molly as she gradually rediscovers the scented world and captures in apt, piquant words the rich layer of life that tends to be wordless.