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Season to Taste

Book Review: Season to Taste

Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way 
by Molly Birnbaum

I wrote this review as part of an online book club in February 2012. 

A very honest, open and informative insight into Molly Birnbaum's very traumatic loss of smell due to a car accident and how her life progressed afterwards. I found it light-hearted  yet poignant, engaging and in an odd sort of way therapeutic for me anyhow as I've been ill for a while myself. Molly Birnhaum had been slaving away as a dishwasher in a restaurant kitchen which was made bearable with morsels of invaluable training from the chef. The harsh experience was necessary to secure a place in the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) course she was participating in shortly. 

Her sights were set very determinedly to succeed so she endured the arduous workload to achieve success. Her life was mappped out only to be cruelly stopped in it's tracks with the car accident. Despite the trauma, pain, loss of mobility and dependence on her family and friends her biggest concern was her lost of smell. Who'd blame her? I thought back on the worst cold or flu I've had and the stuffy nose but I doubt it'd even compare, besides we know that'll subside once the cold or flu has passed. Whilst laid up she had to learn to step back from life and live in a surreal 'world of home' (interspersed with the odd outing once she was fit enough). I know this feeling in that surreal world and you catch the odd glimpse of the outside world just keeps going on without you. On breaking the news the doctor  did so in the oh so familiar flippant manner, I'm sure all of us can relate to it.

Don't expect a comforting bedside manner or advice to help her overcome and deal with the loss of smell. I could feel for her myself as I've received news in a similar manner. I wanted to reach into the book and shake him whilst thinking of inventive ways to use his tapping pencil. Molly Birnbaum ensured this book moved along at an easy pace. I thought the search for solutions which took over the middle section of the book a bit too long. I'd have preferred more on her own personal life.

This is more subjective and if you like lots of detail of this particular medical condition then you're in for a treat. I enjoyed this book mainly as I admire people who can narrate the loss, agony and survival techniques they employ as a result of a major loss in such a serious light-hearted, engaging, fun and yet heartfelt way. I was sad to reach the final page. Well worth a read.


  • Family and friends supporting you make a loss much easier to endure
  • Regardless of the loss we all go through the same feelings, first dealing with the pain, second getting tired of it and wanting to get back to reality, suddenly accepting your fate and then learning to cope and deal with the new reality.
  • Finding the fun in everything regardless
  • As the old saying goes "we plan and God laughs".
  • Life doesn't often pan out like you've planned, but hopefully the end result is more happy and fulfilling. So when you look back you can smile and just go "phew glad I ended up here".
  • Love conquers absences, illnesses and imperfections

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