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Publisher's Summary

An Outside Magazine 2021 Science Book Pick

One of Smithsonian's 10 Best Science Books of 2021

A taboo-busting romp through the shame, stink, and strange science of sweating.

Sweating may be one of our weirdest biological functions, but it’s also one of our most vital and least understood. In The Joy of Sweat, Sarah Everts delves into its role in the body - and in human history.

Why is sweat salty? Why do we sweat when stressed? Why do some people produce colorful sweat? And should you worry about Big Brother tracking the hundreds of molecules that leak out in your sweat - not just the stinky ones or alleged pheromones - but the ones that reveal secrets about your health and vices?

Everts’ entertaining investigation takes listeners around the world - from Moscow, where she participates in a dating event in which people sniff sweat in search of love, to New Jersey, where companies hire trained armpit sniffers to assess the efficacy of their anti-sweat products. In Finland, Everts explores the delights of the legendary smoke sauna and the purported health benefits of good sweat, while in the Netherlands she slips into the sauna theater scene, replete with costumes, special effects, and towel dancing.

Along the way, Everts traces humanity’s long quest to control sweat, culminating in the multibillion-dollar industry for deodorants and antiperspirants. And she shows that while sweating can be annoying, our sophisticated temperature control strategy is one of humanity’s most powerful biological traits.

Deeply researched and written with great zest, The Joy of Sweat is a fresh take on a gross but engrossing fact of human life.

©2021 Sarah Everts (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An entertaining and illuminating guide to the necessity and virtues of perspiration…Everts is a crisp and lively writer." (Jennifer Szalai, New York Times)

"Everts has charm and enthusiasm, writes breezily and, along the way, effectively debunks a number of enduring myths.... [F]un, entertaining and full of interesting facts. (Simon Humphreys, The Mail on Sunday)

"A fascinating account of an involuntary bodily function that turns out to be as unique as a fingerprint." (Irina Dumitrescu, Times Literary Supplement (UK))

What listeners say about The Joy of Sweat

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting and virtually singular review on the subject of perspiration, but lacking

The author should be commended for undertaking the singular work on the subject of perspiration. However, she makes some broad sweeping generalizations on subjects of health and biology. Oftentimes resorting to storytelling tropes then broad-minded understanding of the human evolutionary biology.
She also makes some reductive observations on medical history such as classical views of Galen as “wrong.”
Interesting way to tackle a subject

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Perfect theme, story and narration

Nothing I can add to the headline. If you are interested in the topic, go for it.

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Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up!…

In the NYT book review, THE JOY OF SWEAT was noted as “an entertaining and illuminating guide to the necessity and virtues of perspiration” and the author, Sarah Everts, as a “crisp and lively writer.” I’d have to agree with that. The book is a delightful, somewhat encyclopedic adventure… filled throughout with more scientific and unexpected facts than you can imagine complimented by an engaging and thoughtful narrative (with more than a few dashes of humour as the story progresses). The narration in the Audible audiobook version (done by Sophie Amoss) is truly outstanding… probably the best narration I’ve ever heard (and I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks over the last twenty years). All in all, I’d say this one is Five Stars plus Two Thumbs Up!