Three (very different) books about perfume – a gift guide
While it’s certainly very common to give perfumes for the Holidays, why not do it a bit differently this year and look into books about perfume instead? I’ll show you three favourites that are very different and might appeal to guys and girls, beauty lovers and people who don’t know a thing about scents. Have a look into the best books about perfume!
The little book of perfumes, Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez
‘The 100 classics’ of the tagline certainly applies to this beauty from 2011. It’s a classic, too. You’ll learn something about the 100 best perfumes, as seen by Mr Turin and Ms Sanchez. On top of that, you’ll have accompanying lists (best feminines, best florals, etc.). Plus there’s a handy guide about perfume terms that might have baffled you before. As always, you learn a lot about the critic in the process as well. In the case of Luca Turin, biophysicist and perfume critic, you’ll learn that he’s slightly jaded, very witty, and regards 2011, when the EU-wide laws about allergens in fragrances were issued, as the end of the world. (We’ve covered this topic here if you need a refresher.) His descriptions of fragrances are sharp, lovingly (exasperated in some cases) and borderline quirky. (L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Dzing! smells like ‘vanilla cardboard’ to him.)
This is exactly the right book to gather round after Christmas dinner with and read out some soundbites to the family, especially of perfumes everybody knows (Chanel No. 5, Tommy Girl, Angel, Cool Water). Is it a guide for you to figure out what your next scent should be? I rather doubt that. But then, there’re also little gems like “The fragrance is (…) an ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter delivered by prim girls in glasses”. (Amazon)
The Perfect Scent. A year inside the perfume industry in Paris and New York, Chandler Burr
This is one of the best kinds of non-fiction books that I know of, because it tells a story. It tells about how two perfumes came to be: Hèrmes’ Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, created by one of the greatest perfumers of our time, Jean-Claude Ellena, and Lovely, Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfume she did with Coty. It’s a vivid tale, with interesting protagonists. Tearing through it, you’ll learn more about perfumes than you ever thought was possible. Journalist and perfume critic Chandler Burr (who, in an amusing turn of events, also wrote a book about Luca Turin, called The Emperor of Scent) followed all protagonists for a year. At least that’s the claim of the book.
I once worked together with someone who worked at Coty at the same time as SJP’s scent was created. Her account was quite a bit different. (Burr’s is a better story.) It’s my favourite book about perfumes. It also lead to a keen interest in Ellena’s distinctive scents, and a love story with Ellena’s L’eau d’Hiver. (I wrote about that one here.)
A book for people who enjoy reading non-fiction about various subjects, as long as it’s excellently researched and written. Also, obviously, for people who want to know a bit more about fragrances. (Amazon)
The Book of Lost Fragrances, M.J. Rose
The Book of Lost Fragrances doesn’t deal with perfumes as such. Fragrance takes the backseat and is rather a setting (a fictious French fragrance house called L’Etoile) and the means (of reincarnation, of all things). But if you like to curl up with a riveting read and want to be swept away, this is your thing. In fact, the author enjoys keeping you off your feet and throws plot twists and new stuff at you every few pages.
The main plot deals with Jac, a young French woman living in the USA. When her brother, heir to the aforementioned fragrance house goes missing, she returns to Paris to find him. In the process, she finds that his disappearance is not only linked to an old pottery shard with perfume still clinging to it that might come from Cleopatra, but with the concept of reincarnation. There’s also a murder mystery, Chinese triads, Napoleon, the Dalai Lama, the catacombs of Paris and much, much more.
If something that has the elements of crime, mystery, historical novels and fantasy all rolled into one is your cup of tea, you won’t be disappointed. For readers who want to have something happening all the time in the stories they’re reading, also for people who don’t care about perfume books in the slightest. (Amazon)