The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content)
SIGHT — Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel addresses many issues: World War II and the Holocaust, Jewish and gay identities, and the American Dream via New York City. But the most visceral parts of the novel are when Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay actually sketch out their comic—Sam with the ideas, Joe with the pencil and ink strokes—which breathes life into their hero the Escapist and his allies and rogues gallery.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
TASTE — On her ninth birthday, Rose discovers she possesses a fascinating and awful gift: She can taste people’s emotions in what they cook or bake. The first emotion she’s hit with? Her seemingly cheerful mother’s despair. While initially horrified, Rose tries to embrace her gift as she grows up, using her unique insight into others’ most private lives to better understand the personal interplays happening around her.
SMELL — Born without a scent, Jean-Baptise Grenouille becomes obsessed with bottling the odors of virginal young women and using them to create the greatest perfume the world has ever made. While his motivations and methods are horrific, the novel examines how smell is tied to humanity: Grenouille is shunned for lacking a natural odor, and his perfumes are tools for manipulating others to his twisted desires—which stem, ultimately, from wanting to be happy for once.
Did you know that you use more than just your eyes for reading? Sometimes a book’s prose is so evocative that you feel as if you’re listening to an explosive rap battle, tasting a pirate queen’s feast, or descending into utter darkness right alongside your protagonist. The books on this list engage the five senses; they create phantom music, splash paint on the insides of your eyelids, and make you feel different within your own skin. In some rare cases, their narrators possess the kinds of synesthesia where multiple senses get mixed up, making for an entirely novel experience.
Which books prick up your ears and get your mouth watering? Have you ever read a book that has appealed to all five senses at once?
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Bookshelf curated by Natalie Zutter.
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