Cover Image: Life in Five Senses

Life in Five Senses

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Member Reviews

As a Gretchen Rubin devotee, I am always excited about a new book and topic from her, but I have to admit that I was somewhat lukewarm when I heard that she would be approaching the five senses in her newest work. I wasn't sure it was something that interested me enough to read a whole book about it, but I remained open to the possibility. In fact, it interested quite thoroughly.

As she does in any of her explorations, Rubin approaches her discussion of the senses - as a whole and individually - methodically and with care. Her experiments in devoting time and attention to each of them is inspiring to the reader and I can't imagine reading this book without contemplating how to apply the same curiousity and interest in the settings of my own life.

In the months that followed my reading of this book, I have been much more aware and observant of my senses and my experiences in the world and I am happy to admit that I was wrong about the five senses being something I couldn't find interest in. In fact, I'd say that this book really changed my experience of the world.
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Gretchen Rubin, an expert on happiness and habits, looks at what makes our sensory experiences come alive. From hosting sense parties to visiting The Met everyday, she tries to take in the full experience of life. I loved all the ideas she provided and getting to share in her enjoyment of each of the senses.
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Life in Five Senses is a self help, personal journey type book about making life changes to be more present. It is a good reminder to pay attention to sensations and little things and not just take stuff for granted. However it was a little boring and stiff. I do think the book is approachable with small changes to do but the examples weren’t that exciting or interesting. Still, a good reminder to step back and pay attention.
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I always enjoy reading Gretchen Rubin's books. This was an interesting one on the 5 senses.  Makes you think about paying attention to the life that is happening around you just a little bit more than usual.

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Publication date: 18 April 2023.
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★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review. 

I wasn't sure what to expect. I get Rubin's blogs and updates but wasn't sure I'd enjoy plowing through a whole book about sensory life. Filled with quotes, studies, and personal experiences, Rubin explores what it's like to live fully and mindfully using the senses as our connection to people and the world around us.

I really like the the exercises, the value placed on awareness, whether with hearing or seeing, touching, tasting or smelling. She suggests ways to enhance daily life and the trajectory of relationships by being present through the senses. I liked her transparency with her own experiences. It was readable, interesting, and informative. 

Lots to explore and see where your own senses lead you.
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Life in Five Senses by Gretchen Rubin is a non-fiction book about taking the time out of our busy days to stop and pay attention to what's around us.  It's a good reminder that we can derive joy and pleasure from the smallest of things, and so many things can become more meaningful if we pay more attention.  I appreciated this section:  "Sometimes we may be aware of others' different sensory worlds; sometimes not.  My sister Elizabeth and I host the weekly Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, and on one episode, we interviewed journalist Frank Bruni about his experiences after a stroke damaged his sight.  He pointed out that most people deal with some sort of a challenge.  'If we all wore sandwich boards that listed bullet points of the main things we're dealing with,' he said, 'all of us would be so much more empathetic, would understand where people are coming from, and would be able to connect in a way we don't.'  It's crucial to remember that our sensory world isn't everyone's sensory world."  Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital review copy.  All opinions are my own.
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This short, enjoyable book is packed with tips to create a more joyful life by engaging with your five senses. As usual with Gretchen Rubin's work, the book is told through the lens of Rubin's own experiences and experiments. She offers unique and thoughtful tips on how to improve your life through specific sensory experiences, so readers can pick and choose what will work for them. If you have listened to Rubin's Happier podcast, many of the tips will sound familiar, but the compilation and framing stories make this a fun read nonetheless.
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Longtime fan of Gretchen Rubin. While I found this title informative, I didn't find it quite as useful as her other books. Still an enjoyable read though, complete with the humor and wit that I've come to expect from this author.
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Our world is an extraordinary place, full of color, sound, scents, tastes, and a plethora of sensations to be felt on your skin. However the environment we live in is over saturated with distractions, and thus can blunt or dull our sensory experience. In this book the Author teaches us how to cultivate a happier more meaningful life through the science of the soul. An exciting journey, creating a profound awareness for your body's abilities and its capacity to sense through our 5 senses.

Each sense is highlighted and broken down into subject form. She includes multiple personal experiences and activities that she took part in to heighten her personal sense experience such as: sound baths, tasting sessions, a sound apothecary, silence exercises, visiting and speaking with professionals in the perfume industry, music industry, and ocular profession, visiting the MET each day to focus singularly on one piece of art at a time to analyze and really soak in its meaning and beauty. 

Rubin shares not just her personal memories but shares the science and explanations behind each sensory experience and how our body works. A zealous thought provoking read. An invigorating look at the body's amazing abilities and how it is literally a refuge if you create and cultivate an active sentience of your senses.  

When we were children we saw the world around us with such new innocent interest. Each sensation was a new stimuli that we would savor with awe. Rubin's writing is reminiscent of being a child again. Taking the reader through her active experiment of "re experiencing", giving the reader simple exercises and ideas to re-tune your awareness and encourages us to share this with our loved ones, and the world. In a sentence: this book was a beautiful breath of fresh air.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Oh boy do I love me some Gretchen Rubin, so this review is a bit biased. Gretchen excels at researching topics and this book about the Five Senses - see, hear, smell, taste, touch - aligns with that approach. She weaves in her self-imposed ritual of visiting the Met every day to exploring and enhancing each of the Five Senses. I learned many new tidbits about the senses and gained new ways to appreciate them. As with her other books, she offers suggestions and resources to boost each.
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Author of The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin, decides to explore her five senses after a vision scare.  Dividing up her senses and focusing on paying real attention to each one, she explores seeing first. Not letting her brain fill in what is normally there in the background but focusing on her surroundings and the people around her.  When was the last time you took real notice of your loved ones, what are they wearing today?  What is the color of their eyes or the texture of their hair?  Zooming in on this kind of detail will create new memories and sensations blocking out unnecessary distractions.  
In this way, Rubin focused  on hearing, smelling, tasting and touch. Focusing on the here and now with the people you love is good for your spirit and soul.  You will find yourself connecting truly and seeing people for who they are and what they need.  This balm will cure the malaise and cynicism of modern life and root your feet firmly on the ground in your daily life.
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4.5 starts.  Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC.  This was an enjoyable and interested read about our five senses - how they heighten our lives but in many cases we miss or don't appreciate what is in our environments.  The author goes through each sense and provides challenges for herself to see if the experiences change the way she uses her senses.  she visits the Met every day, attends a blindfolded dinner, floats in a sensory deprivation chamber, makes a playlist of songs that have a particular meaning, hugs her family in a more conscious manner, etc.  As with all her books she gives great ideas as to how the reader can heighten their awareness of their senses and put them into practice.  I found the info to be a perspective shift and plan to try some of them in the near future.
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When Gretchen Rubin got a wakeup call about her vision after a bout with pink eye, she decided to stop taking her vision for granted, as well as her other senses.

“I woke to a profound truth: I had my one body and its capacities right now, and I wouldn’t have them forever.”

She began an experiment that day to get out of her head and into the world. 

“Explicitly training my attention on the smell of a shoe store or the lobby of my daughter’s school gave me a sense of being present, of being exactly where I was, right now. When I was going somewhere, I wanted to take my body there with me.”

Gretchen gives lots of practical ideas in this book. For example, to increase mindfulness about pleasant smells, Gretchen suggests appreciating the scent of laundry detergent; visit a fragrance counter and sample five scents; simmer spices on the stove; recall scent memories from your grandparents’ kitchen. And eliminate bad smells from the fridge or below the sink or in a garbage can.

More quotes:

“Our brains combine information from all our senses, but when a conflict arises, sight usually wins.”

“I could shape my auditory environment both by adding sounds I liked and by eliminating sounds I didn’t like. Just as I did periodic sweeps of my apartment and office to clear clutter, I needed to clear clatter.”

“Just one minute of deep breathing can make a smell start to recede. When I walk into a coffee shop, I enjoy the smell of coffee, but before long the smell fades.”

“In general, if we haven’t had a positive eating experience with a food by age twenty-five, we probably won’t embrace it.”

“We explore the world with our hands. There’s a big difference between a zoo and a petting zoo.”

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to better appreciate life every moment.

Thanks to NetGalley and Crown for the review copy of this book.
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While I had really enjoyed a previous book of Rubin's I wasn't sure what to expect from this book.  What could possibly be said about the five senses that would be interesting enough for a full book.  Turns out quite a lot!  

After becoming aware that she is more at risk for retinal detachment because of her very poor eye sight (I fall into this camp as well so this really caught my attention!) Rubin becomes aware of how little she's really been paying attention to the world around her and all the sensations that flow past her with little to no acknowledgement. She develops a plan to tackle each sense at a time and isolate and fully experience each sense over a period of time.  Her primary framework is to visit one place every day for a year and experience it through the lens of all her different senses.  

I really love how the author tackles her challenges.  All of her projects are something that anyone could implement (with some alterations - I can't visit the Met everyday but I could visit the library or some place local to myself for example) and I usually find myself eager to implement them myself.  For sight she begins to collect items of a particular color and for taste she and her husband and friends have blind taste tests of single ingredients to truly isolate what they're tasting.  I suddenly want to start going on shopping quests for single color items (my color would be peridot) and buying 6 different types of mustards to truly taste them.  I'm not sure I will do either of these things but it is fun to think about.

This is an interesting read about how our senses allow us to experience the world around us and how they interact with each other.  I found myself thinking about how I interact with the world as Rubin goes through each sense and I enjoyed this book from start to finish.
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I didn't think a book about The Five Senses could make me rethink the way I think about life. Gretchen Rubin gave us all the biggest gift with this book. A new way to appreciate the world and life around us. It has made me slow down and appreciate ever since I finished it.
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I’m a longtime fan of Gretchen Rubin’s writing (going all the way back to The Happiness Project), and her newest book is a fun and thought-provoking addition to her body of work. In her trademark style, she dives deep into her subject - in this case, exploration of the five senses - and shares her personal experiences, expectations, reactions, and surprises in ways that prompted me to consider this way of exploring the world. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say this: LIFE IN FIVE SENSES is thoroughly enjoyable and will add new perspective to your life. Highly recommend!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
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I, like Gretchen Rubin, tend to live in my own head, so her realization that she needed to get out of her own head and explore and live in her five senses was very relevant to me. It hooked me from the very beginning. I also am a sucker for a methodical exploration, and her journey through the five senses appealed to me in that way, as well. 

Her thoughts on each sense were fascinating and gave me new things to think about in terms of how I use my senses. Her own resolution to pay more attention to what’s going on around her made me make a similar resolution and made the world around me come more alive. 

One of my favorite things about the whole thing was how concrete and unique each of her ‘action items’ for each sense were—but also how imitatable. Her concept of ‘audio apothecary’ is something I’ve had going in a loose and unorganized way for a while. There are some songs that I just know make me happy or motivated, and I save them for those moments! But maybe I should gather them up, as she did. 

Her focus on how all the senses can also remind us of the past and store memories was fascinating, as well. From her ‘tastes timeline’ to her idea of ‘sense portraits’, it was a welcome departure from and advancement of the typical “use your sense of smell to save a memory”. 

I personally am a touch-neglecting person (that’s what I got as my neglected sense when I took her quiz, and it makes a lot of sense), and her thoughts on touch therefore specifically interested me, from the necessary (but neglected) “Give A Loving Touch” to “Using Touch to Ignite the Imagination”. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was her resolution to visit the MET every day. It inspired me both to start making a daily visit to the university library, and to visit the Art Institute in Chicago more often. (I’m close by…but I need to make the time!) 

Overall, it’s a fascinating portrait of the senses and also a highly individual portrait of Gretchen herself and the way she goes about the world—but one which can benefit anyone.
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This is a lovely book for readers who want to start a mindfulness practice but aren't dead set on meditation, or anyone looking to slow down, put their phone down, and live in the "real world"
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This book was an engaging overview of how in paying closer attention to our senses we can enhance the enjoyment they can provide. I have been a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s books since she wrote her hit The Happiness Project.  Many of her books are in some way related to exploring how we can increase happiness in our lives and this book definitely touches on that theme.  Gretchen briefly examines the science behind each sense and provides some fun facts about them (each of our nostrils has its own sense of smell - who knew?!). Gretchen also explores the power of each sense: how hearing a song can evoke a memory, how a smell can bring you back to a specific place in time, how touch can play a role in calming anxiety.  I really learned a lot from this book.
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This book is a great reminder for all of us to slow down and pay attention -- to take in information through all of our senses.  There were so many great insights in this book - -such as "Listen" is a rearrangement for the word "Silent" and why it's difficult to follow action in a film that is subtitled without hearing the voices -- I always wondered why I feel I have to turn the volume up even though I don't understand the language spoken!  She also created a Audio Apothecary as she calls it -- playlists to help you with different moods (it can be found on Spotify too but I am creating my own).  She also describes going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art daily to focus on different aspects - color, texture, smells, sounds etc.  I thought this was a great idea as a way to tune into different senses beyond just visual.  The other part I absolutely loved is her "Manifesto for Listening" - particularly with her husband.  I think this is extremely helpful and I have started applying some of the tips.  This book is a great companion piece to her other books (I have read some of them) and her podcast (which I have not yet listened to).  I recommend this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Crown Publishing, for an ARC and I left my honest review voluntarily.
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