Leschziner...has brought together a collection of exceptionally unusual and interesting stories in his second book, dedicated to the wonder of our senses ... Among his astonishing tales of what happens when the processing of sensory inputs goes wrong, Leschziner includes crystal-clear explanations of something no less amazing – how our senses operate normally ... [These] stories are jaw-dropping, but this is not misery porn. Refreshingly, one never has the sense that Leschziner is wringing out his patients’ lives for dramatic effect. His prose is straightforward, and it lacks the whiff of narcissism or martyrdom that can emerge when doctors write books for a popular audience ... For all his professional expertise, the moments when Leschziner lets himself get personal or make a gentle, avuncular quip are where his warmth and empathy show, making a book that could otherwise be hard-going a delightful read ... Tantalisingly, Leschziner leaves any serious consideration of the major philosophical implications of our imperfect senses...until the epilogue ... Leschziner’s existential insights are exactly what I want to hear more of at the end of this intriguing book. Instead, he leaves the reader hankering for more, with a renewed sense of awe at the delicate, magnificent workings of the senses
... a deep dive into the world of our senses — one that explores the way they shape our reality and what happens when something malfunctions or functions differently ... Despite the complicated science permeating the narrative and the plethora of medical explanations, the book is also part memoir. And because of the way the author, Dr. Guy Leschziner, treats his patients — and how he presents the ways their conditions affect their lives and those of the people around them — it is also a very humane, heartfelt book ... Despite all the science, this is a book about people, and that includes Leschziner. He writes eloquently about his family's migration and roots, his feelings and concerns while dealing with patients, and his early career as a doctor. He is also very honest about everything science doesn't know about the brain and the nervous system, the way doctors learn to accept their own mortality, and even the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the profession ... If we have all our senses intact, we see, taste, hear, touch, and smell every day and probably think little about the complex systems that make it all possible and the many things science still ignores about those processes. This book changes that and forces readers to question the 'reality' they have created, and that makes it the kind of book that has a lasting impact.
Leschziner...uses synaesthetes such as Valeria as striking examples of the way everyone experiences a slightly different form of reality. The verbal gastronome of the book’s title feels tastes and textures alongside sounds ... Leschziner has [a] flair for digressions into medical history and his own life, as well as a steady dignity that ensures the book never becomes exploitative or trivial ... The book’s episodic nature leads to an element of repetition as concepts are explained and re-explained, which benefits readers dipping in and out but detracts from the experience of reading it front to back. And some of Leschziner’s scene-setting can be a little prosaic ... But this is a lucid evocation of big ideas that will make you grateful for your health, and both more appreciative and more sceptical of our symphony of senses with its brilliant, capricious conductor, the brain.
A fascinating deep dive into the functions and malfunctions of the five senses in this sharp account ... Brilliantly illustrated with eye-opening case studies ... Leschziner makes a solid case that each sense is worthy of awe in its own way, but he tends to get bogged down in neurological terminology that lay readers may find hard to parse. Still, those who stick around will find this packed with insight.