The Man Who Tasted Words: Inside the Strange and Startling World of Our Senses
‘From the opening paragraph, I was spellbound, entranced. Through real stories about what happens when our fragile perception of the world around us and within us is severed, Guy Leschziner connects us back to our senses.’
Professor Alice Roberts
Where are you now?
Look around you; what can you see?
Close your eyes and think of a loved one – do you see their face?
Stretch out a hand; what can you feel with your fingertips, your palm, the soft underside of your wrist?
What can you hear – nearby and far away?
The information you receive from your senses makes up your world. But that world does not exist. What we perceive to be the absolute truth of the world around us is a complex reconstruction, a virtual reality created by the complex machinations of our minds in tandem with the wiring of our nervous systems.
But what happens if that wiring goes awry? What happens if connections falter, or new and unexpected connections are made? Tiny shifts in the microbiology of our nervous systems can cause the world around us to shift and mutate, to become alien and unfamiliar.
In The Man Who Tasted Words, consultant neurologist Guy Leschziner takes us on a journey through the senses, exploring how each one shapes our experience of the world. And investigating what happens when they deviate from the norm. Along the way we meet a number of extraordinary individuals and step through the looking glass and into their worlds. Worlds where hot and cold are reversed, where a person with no sight sees fantastical visions, or where words have a taste and sounds create sensations.
But while fascinating, their experiences are more than simply curiosities. They teach us about our own perception of the world, forcing us to question the idea of ‘normal’ senses, and whether such a thing even exists. Does blue look the same to you and me? Does grass smell the same? Or sugar taste as sweet? Do we even have the same understanding of what ‘sweet’ is?
The Man Who Tasted Words unpacks the science behind your senses and challenges you to try and see the world through another’s eyes – and ears, and nose and mouth. It will illuminate, it will surprise, and it will leave your world just a little bit changed.
‘A truly astonishing book – from the story of the man who tasted words to that of Paul who could pull out his own teeth and break his legs yet feel no pain. These are beautifully and engagingly written stories of how our senses tell us about the reality of the world – or, sometimes, don’t.’
Gavin Esler, author of How Britain Ends
‘Stories of people who experience the world differently show us what it means to be human. This is a deeply moving and powerful book, full of provocative ideas about human perception and the way we construct reality.’
Daniel M. Davis, author of The Secret Body and The Beautiful Cure
‘This is a book vibrant with personality and full of wonder. Professor Leschziner takes us through an exploration of our senses, making us question the nature of our reality and how we interpret the world around us. It is a profound, entertaining and quite exceptional book.’
Dr Alastair Santhouse, Psychiatrist and Author of Head First
‘In vivid stories of patient maladies that affect our very human sensations of sight, sound, smell, touch and pain, Leschziner has deeply explored the sensory experiences that bombard every moment of our lives but of which we are barely aware. What a terrific melding of brain science with thoughtful ideas on our window to the outside world.’
Allan Ropper, author of Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole and How the Brain Lost its Mind.
‘A fascinating, important and disturbing book. Words will never taste the same again!’
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