Perfume has the power to evoke emotions and transport us to different times and places. The world of perfume is rich with history, artistry, and sensory experience, making it a captivating subject for literature. From historical fiction to mystery to memoir, there are countless books that explore the world of scent in all its complexity. In this article, we will take a look at ten must-read books about perfume. These books will take you on a journey through the world of scent, from the grand perfumeries of Paris to the remote islands of the Pacific Northwest. Each book on this list offers a unique perspective on the art and science of perfume, as well as the cultural and emotional significance of scent. So, whether you’re a fragrance enthusiast or simply looking for a good read, these books are sure to captivate and inspire you.
1) “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
This book is a comprehensive guide to fragrances, covering over 1,200 perfumes in alphabetical order. The authors provide expert analysis and critiques of each scent, using a rating system based on stars. In addition, the book includes information on the history of perfumery, the chemistry of scents, and the industry as a whole. It’s an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about perfumes, whether you’re a novice or an expert.
2) “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York” by Chandler Burr
This book is an insider’s look at the perfume industry, following two perfumes – one created by a French perfumer for Hermès, and the other by an American celebrity for Coty – as they are developed and launched. Burr provides fascinating insights into the creative process of perfumery, the business side of the industry, and the cultural differences between the French and American approaches to scent. It’s a well-written and engaging book that offers a unique perspective on the world of perfume.
3) “The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession” by Chandler Burr
This book tells the story of Luca Turin, a scientist who became obsessed with the mystery of how we smell, and his quest to understand the workings of the human nose. Burr weaves together scientific research, personal anecdotes, and a bit of intrigue to create a compelling narrative that sheds light on the fascinating world of scent. It’s a captivating read that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power of perfume.
4) “Fragonard: Perfumeur à Grasse depuis 1782” by Jean-Francois Costa
This book is a tribute to the famous perfume house Fragonard, which has been producing fragrances in the French town of Grasse for over two centuries. Costa provides a detailed history of the company, from its founding in the 18th century to its present-day operations, as well as a guide to its most famous fragrances. The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and artwork, making it a treat for both perfume lovers and Francophiles.
5) “The Secret of Scent” by Luca Turin
In this book, Luca Turin offers his theory of how we perceive scents, based on his own research and experiments. He argues that the traditional theory of how smell works – based on the shape of molecules – is incomplete, and proposes an alternative explanation that takes into account the vibrations of the molecules. Turin’s ideas are controversial, but his writing is clear and engaging, making this book an interesting read for anyone interested in the science of scent.
6) “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins
This novel tells the story of two immortals – one a perfumer, the other a queen – who seek the secret to eternal youth and beauty. The book is a whimsical and fantastical tale that blends mythology, philosophy, and humor in equal measure. Robbins’ writing is playful and poetic, and his descriptions of scents are vivid and evocative. It’s a book that will transport you to another world, where perfume has the power to change lives.
7) “The Perfume Collector” by Kathleen Tessaro
In this novel, a young woman named Grace receives an inheritance from a mysterious benefactor – a collection of vintage perfumes. As she uncovers the stories behind each scent, she learns about the life of Eva d’Orsey, a glamorous woman from the 1950s who had a complicated relationship …with the world of perfume. Tessaro’s writing is elegant and evocative, capturing the glamour and intrigue of mid-century Paris. The book is a satisfying blend of mystery, romance, and historical fiction, with a touch of magical realism thrown in.
8) “The Book of Lost Fragrances” by M.J. Rose
In this novel, a young woman named Jac L’Etoile is drawn into a quest to uncover the secret of an ancient perfume that is said to have the power to restore memories of past lives. Along the way, she must confront her own family’s complicated history and navigate a web of dangerous intrigue. Rose’s writing is lush and sensual, capturing the beauty and mystery of the world of perfume. The book is a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the end.
9) “The Scent Keeper” by Erica Bauermeister
In this novel, a young girl named Emmeline is raised on a remote island by her father, who teaches her the art of scent-making. When she is forced to leave the island and confront the outside world, she must learn to navigate the complexities of human relationships and discover the truth about her family’s past. Bauermeister’s writing is lyrical and atmospheric, capturing the sensory details of Emmeline’s world. The book is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of identity, memory, and the power of scent.
10) “The Perfume Garden” by Kate Lord Brown
In this novel, a young woman named Emma travels to Spain to restore a neglected garden that was once owned by her grandmother, who was a renowned perfumer. As she uncovers the secrets of the garden and her family’s past, she learns about the art of perfumery and finds love with a local man. Brown’s writing is lush and romantic, transporting the reader to the sun-drenched landscapes of Spain. The book is a satisfying blend of history, romance, and mystery, with a focus on the sensory world of perfume.
In conclusion, these ten books offer a rich and varied exploration of the world of perfume. They demonstrate how the art of perfumery has been intertwined with culture, history, and emotion for centuries. Each author brings their unique voice and perspective to this fascinating subject, whether they are exploring the mysteries of a long-lost fragrance or delving into the complexities of human relationships through the lens of scent. By reading these books, you will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the power and beauty of fragrance. So, whether you’re a perfume lover or simply looking for a good book, be sure to check out these captivating works of literature.