The Smoking Book is built on the foundation of two questions: how does it feel to smoke, and what does smoking mean? Lesley Stern muses on these questions through intersecting stories and essays. Stern writes of addictions and passionate attachments, of the body and bodily pleasure, of autobiography and cultural history. Smoking is Stern's seductive pretext, her way of entering unknown and mysterious regions. The book begins with accounts of growing up on a tobacco farm in colonial Rhodesia, reminiscences that permeate subsequent excursions into precolonial tobacco production and postcolonial life in Zimbabwe, as well as vignettes set in Australia, the United States, Scotland, Italy, Japan and South America. Stern has written a book, at once personal and international, that weaves the intimate act of a solitary person smoking a cigarette into a broad cultural picture of desire, exchange, fulfilment and the acts that bind people together, either in lasting ways or through ephemeral encounters.