Sarah Everts—The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration

Joy of Sweat

Joy of Sweat


Sarah Everts
W. W. Norton, July 13, 2021, $26.95
ISBN-10:‎ 0393635678, ISBN-13:‎ 978-0393635676

Everts reports:

I’m a voluminous sweater: in any workout, I’m reaching for the towel during the warm-up. I was somewhat mortified by my perspiration, and yet as a science journalist, I knew that evolutionary biologists count bountiful sweating as one of the unique characteristics of being human, along with big brains and nakedness.

I decided to dig into the science of sweat, and oh my there was a bounty of fascinating stuff to mine–from people who sweat in a rainbow of colors, to the history of deodorants and anti-perspirants, to the chemistry of fingerprints, which are inked in sweat, to the strange search for human pheromones.

Sarah Everts

Sarah Everts

I was fortunate to get a Ullyot Scholarship from the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, where I spent a delicious few months plowing through deodorant and antiperspirant patents. Then two years later, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin hosted me as a Journalist in Residence, where I worked on the book proposal. Meanwhile, as a writer for Chemical & Engineering News, I focused on the odor and olfaction beat.

I was just in the process of seeking an agent when Matt Weiland, an editor at W.W. Norton, reached out to me after reading an article I wrote about art conservation in Scientific American. He was enormously enthusiastic about a book on sweat, and even suggested a few potential agents. I’ve worked with both Christy Fletcher and Sarah Fuentes at Fletcher and Co. as agents, and they are both fabulous.

With hindsight, I wish I’d fallen in love with Scrivener A LOT earlier in the research and writing process. And I’d skip the self-flagellation when I didn’t pump out the book in a matter of months. Life takes unexpected turns: I had a kid, which was wonderful and distracting. I also had cancer, which was not wonderful but also distracting. It took me many years to finish The Joy of Sweat. I’m so grateful for the support of so many kind souls along the way.

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August 4, 2021

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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