What follows is a very brief compilation of reading suggestions to get you through the cold, dark days of winter. Five handpicked books, warmly recommended to the budding perfume enthusiast who wishes to learn more about the object of their passion.
Some have argued it's a classic of contemporary German literature, I'll stick to the assertion that it's a very rewarding read: Perfume by Patrick Süskind should be part of everyone's collection indeed.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
available from various publishers. Penguin Books (UK) will issue a new pocket edition in January 2006
Category: coffee-table books
The Book of Perfume by Elizabeth Barillé and Catherine Laroze is one of the most charming books to browse through on a rainy Sunday morning.
Elizabeth Barillé and Catherine Laroze
The Book of Perfume
transl: Tamara Blondel
Paris: Flammarion (1995)
For a better understanding of the psychology of odor, read Smell: The Secret Seducer by Piet Vroon. It's a clear and well-structured book on the importance of olfaction in everyday life and the impact of scent in human behavior. I assume the English translation is as easily accessible as the Dutch original.
Piet Vroon, Anton van Amerongen, and Hans de Vries
Smell: The Secret Seducer
translation by Paul Vincent
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1997)
Another book I've reviewed earlier is The Emperor of Scent: if you really don't care for scientific theories, skip the technical bits and concentrate on the wonderful perfume descriptions. Chandler Burr and Luca Turin are names to remember.
The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses
New York: Random House (2002)
Category: reference books
I've saved the hardest choice for last. Some books in this category are far too expensive to include in a beginners list, while others are outdated, discontinued, not available in English, or simply not good enough. All things considered, my final vote goes to Fabulous Fragrances by Jan Moran: it features a very decent inventory of fragrance profiles for masculine and feminine perfumes, and it's good value for money. Make sure you look for version II.
Fabulous Fragrances II: A Guide to Prestige Perfumes for Women and Men
La Quinta, CA: Crescent House Publishing (2000)