Monday Question – Perfume Aside, What Are You Passionate About?

I’d love to get to know you all a bit better today. We all bonded over perfume, but we have other interests and hobbies too. What is yours?

What is your second favorite thing in the world (assuming perfume is the first 😉 )?

What is your hobby, your passion, your love aside from perfume?

What else, aside from fragrant pleasures makes life interesting for you?

question-markMy Answer:

My one great love since I was six years old is reading. I was a voracious reader as a child, and that continued all my life, with some slowing down when I had my children, but now that they are older, I’m pretty much back in the reading saddle, and not only reciting The Gruffalo or Astrid Lindgren either.

Reading is the most perfect escape, an adventure in your head, the opening of new horizons, new realms. There is no better feeling than losing oneself in a great book.

I credit my reading habits for my grasp of the English language. I never stayed in an English speaking country for longer than a few weeks for travel, I never studied English at University, I just read English books. Stephen King and John Irving are to blame for my American colloqialisms, somehow their language seemed more applicable in daily life than Shakespeare’s or the Brontë sisters’. 😉

My tastes are all over the place, rather like with perfume. I love Iris Murdoch and Arthur Miller, J.R.R. Tolkien and T.C Boyle, Irvin Yalom and Bill Bryson, Marian Keyes and Umberto Eco. The story is what’s important and the characters. They have to draw me in, and that happens just as likely with Agent Pendergast as it does with Heathcliff.

For Mother’s Day last year I received a Kindle. I never thought I could forgo the feeling of an actual book in my hands, but it turns out, I totally forget what it is I’m holding, only the book itself counts, not the format. I love the ease and instant accessibility of anything and everything, almost anywhere. I love the fact that I never have to worry whether I have enough reading material, no more lugging around of heavy tomes all over the city. I carry a library in this tiny black device and I love it.

Right now I’m reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire (Game Of Thrones in the TV adaptation). I’m late to the game, but I enjoy it very much. Epic tales fascinate me, a whole new world opens up and there is so much of it to explore. There is no better feeling than being comfortable in the world a book evokes and being able to come back again and again.

My favorite epic tale is Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. A masterpiece by a totally underrated author. King is so much more than just a horror writer, and everybody who reads his books (as opposed to many of the horribly simplified movies that were made of them) knows that. I take his complex characters and the intricate worlds he creates over anemic prose that wins literary accolades any day.

What is your favorite thing aside from perfume? What are you favorite books?

Can’t wait to hear it all!


About Olfactoria

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133 Responses to Monday Question – Perfume Aside, What Are You Passionate About?

  1. We have VERY similar reading list Birgit, I wonder if it’s endemic and can’t wait to see what everyone else reads. It’s also one of my favourite escapes, I’m interested that you love your kindle. It is time to replace some of my much loved and many times reread books bevause they are falling apart in my hands as I read them. It would free up about 5 walls in my home if the tablet reading experience works.
    Other hobbies that I am mad keen on are cooking, bed linen and towels, crockery and art, mainly Australian.
    Portia x

    • Olfactoria says:

      I could never get trid of my books, so my walls will stay covered, but the stash probably will stop growing quite that fast (some books still need to come in paper format).
      I love that you are into bed linens and towels! 🙂

    • anatu13 says:

      We’ve had a couple of exhibitions of Australian Aboriginal art at the museum at the college I work at. They were phenomenal–some of my favorite art of all time.

  2. TamaTama says:

    I love to read, too, and am an artist, currently playing with photography, and a quiltmaker. I dabble in a lot of things, but always have something going to challenge myself creatively.

  3. RuthF says:

    I love reading too, favourites: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Steinbeck, Jonathan Ames.
    I’ve been on a quest for a while to find the perfect Art Deco locket, I found one a few weeks ago on EBay, so happy with my purchase!

  4. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Reading is so much part of my everyday life that I don’t even call it passion anymore. I read in the underground in the mornig/evening, I read on the plane (frequent traveller) and I read when going for dinner alone. That’s even easier with my beloved Kindle … I read lots of crime stories, but I try to insert some real literature again and again (Evelyn Waugh at the moment).
    Now what I’d call my passion : FOOD (cooking and eating) ! Today I’m flying to the UK for business and though I’ll have only few hours for myself I’m looking forward to visit my favorite spots in London (I want to squeeze in both Tom Aikens and Yotam Ottolenghi…) 🙂

  5. Ines says:

    I love your Monday question! Probably because it allows me to freely elaborate on my other loves. 😉
    Although you know I love reading already – I don’t think there’s anyone who knows me who isn’t aware of it. 🙂
    And you’re not late to the Martin’s party. After getting hooked on the series, I’ve been meaning to start reading it but I keep waiting for more free time (like a summer vacation) because I expect it will draw me in and I’ll have to keep on reading.
    I’m with you on the feel of books but there are so many advantages to owning a Kindle, not the least the amount of space left from not filling it with more books – that’s the one I’m most grateful for. The second one being the fact that I can have the book I want in an instant which is not something I could have done before.
    My favourite books are, of course, Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings, closelly followed by Pride and Prejudice. My favourite authors (aside those from the previous sentence) include Kresley Cole for paranormal romance, Stephanie Laurens and Sabrina Jeffries for historical romance, Lois M. Bujold for sci-fi and Robin Hobb for fantasy. Interesting to note they are all women… 🙂 Therefore I’ll add Justin Cronin for post-apocalyptic scenarios.
    And before I finish my treatise on reading, I’ll just add that I had a phase when all I read was King and Koontz. 🙂

    My other love, which only get a sentence in the end, is cosmetics. I love trying new creams, oils, shower gels, you name it, I want to try it (and check if it lives up to its promise).

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love hearing about other’s reading lists. I know what you mean about saving G.R.R.Martin for a time when it can be read in one fell swoop, but I figured for me that time won’t ever come, so I just dove in. 🙂

      I used to experiment a lot with cosmetics too in my younger years, now I’m glad to have found things that work and don’t irritate, I’ve grown very loyal to my stuff.

    • anatu13 says:

      Bujold is fantastic!

  6. andreawilko says:

    I have always loved reading books and magazines although it is quite sporadic these days as to how many books I actually read. I stick mainly with crime books but enjoy the odd autobiography, I don’t do chick lit or romance and have never had the patience to read classic literature, I may save them for retirement. 😉
    I am also quite obsessed about make up, my weakness being lipsticks and nail varnish.
    My other ‘hobby’ has always been fitness (I wanted to be a pe teacher) at one point I was fit enough to take part in a half marathon, triathlon and 10km ‘fun run’ over 3 consecutive weekends. Sadly that fitness level has long since gone but I still make time to go to the gym on a very regular basis.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I admire your fitness regime and determination. That is what is really missing from my life, I just can’t get it together to stick with a routine, couch-potatoing always remains my favorite sport. 😉

  7. Dubaiscents says:

    Before I was swapping perfume samples with my Mom we were swapping books (and we still do). Although it takes me a little longer to get through one now a days (where does the time go when you have two young kids?!), I still read almost every night before bed. My favorites are ones set in a foreign country or about a different culture but, I will read pretty much anything. It probably stems from my love of travel which, I don’t do as much anymore for fun (see above mentioned young kids) so, reading is an easier and cheaper way to experience new places.
    I love the whole e-book thing but, the only downside is that it is not as easy to swap and share. In my family it is not uncommon for a book to be read 3-4 times before being donated to the library book sale or other charity group.
    BTW, for not having any formal English study, your English is amazing Birgit!

  8. brie says:

    My father taught me how to read at the age of three and as an only child a book was always my constant companion. In my youth my favorite authors were Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton… that I am older I prefer things a bit more lighthearted and I am reading all the series of Alexander McCall Smith (am now on the 44 Scotland Street series).
    But there are two other interests I have-yoga and aromatherapy- I study both and it helps to bring equanimity into my life.

  9. Miss Woolf says:

    This is such a fun Monday qestion.

    Writing has been a passion since early childhood and still retains the top spot. I also love dance (to watch: it’s one of my great regets that I didn’t become a dancer, although my husband and I often indulge in “silly dancing” in the living room; goofy music with even goofier freestyle modern dance moves), books and reading, poetry, typography, linguistics, etymology, yoga, hiking and walking (I usually walk at least 15km every day but most of all I love to be out for the whole day), photography. Laughing! And my dog of course. Like Portia I love beautiful bed linen (still searching for the holy grail). Hmmm… Well, there’s a few things 🙂

    Right now I’m reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman. My favorite author is Siri Hustvedt. I also love Michael Cunningham and Ann Patchett. Some of my favorite books include Sorrows of an American, Bel Canto, The Hours, I Know This Much is True, The Time Travelers Wife, Mrs Dalloway. And The Brother’s Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are totally fit, Asa, so admirable!
      I Know This Much Is True is a wonderful book!!! I also really like Wally Lamb’s other novel, She’s Come Undone. Your favorites include some of mine as well, we do share more than perfume tastes. 🙂

      • Miss Woolf says:

        Oh Birgit I wish I was fitter… But those bursts of mad living room dancing is surprisingly aerobic ;-).

        Wally Lamb is a great writer, but I was so disappointed with his latest book, The Hour I First Believed. Did you read it?

        • Olfactoria says:

          No, I didn’t, somehow it didn’t speak to me and it seems I was right.

          I saw on FB that you are doing this 14day fitness challenge programm, are you still at it?

          • Miss Woolf says:

            I think you made the right choice. I still hope he will publish something on a par with the first two soon.

            I was trying to follow a 90-day fitness challenge while my dog recovers from his broken leg, but I have actually damaged my shoulder as a result and I’m now on a strictly no-exercise challenge instead. I should stick to hiking and yoga in the future. I don’t need Gwyneth Paltrow’s body to be happy.

          • Olfactoria says:

            Ha, that is eerie. I did a similar thing last fall (ballet boot camp) and badly injured my shoulder, I had to stop as well – and haven’t gotten back in the groove since. 😦

            As for Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m sure you smell a lot better than her! 😉

  10. ringthing says:

    My best friend gifted me with a Kindle and I’m also a fan. I love Victorian fiction and am reading through Elizabeth Gaskell (currently North and South). My passion is music. I grew up with all kinds constantly on the record player and radio and I played the piano. Music is what my husband and I bonded over and we spend many hours just listening, from Led Zeppelin to Debussy to Esperanza Spalding. Pandora is wonderful! My other life long hobbies are collecting silver and vintage costume jewelry, and scarves. I really have to credit my artist mother for giving me such an appreciation of beauty; she loves music and jewelry also, and at 85 still enjoys thrifting with me to seek out vintage pieces. Then we have to decide who gets to keep the prize!

  11. lucasai says:

    I’m a tea lover since my early childhood. My Mum was always surprised when being 5 I asked her to make me a chamomile or mint tea which little children usually dislike. It was not a problem for me.
    I also like traveling but as a student I don’t travel much, only when there’s a family trip but I’m sure I’ll continue this hobby when I grow a little older.

  12. Farouche says:

    I’m also a huge reader, but my passion in life is horseback riding and my horse Justin, a Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross. In our younger years we did a lot of showing, but now we just enjoy taking lessons and hacking around the ring. I ride him about four times a week and also love grooming him and giving him treats! Carrots and peppermint are his favorites 😉

  13. Alexandra says:

    You beat me to it again… while I adore travelling, bowls (they are just the most pleasing shape!), good food & wine; reading would have to count as my next true love. I always have a book on the go and like you have surprised myself with my Kindle conversion (the holiday packing liberation is wonderful – my suitcase must have lost 5kg!), although I still think books are an integral part of any home décor. I am happiest with whimsical fiction (Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus has been one of my favourite books in ages), but try to read a wide range of styles from the incredible Wild Swans by Jung Chang to a Charles Dickens every year at Christmas (loved a Tale of Two Cities, nearly died of boredom in The Old Curiosity Shop). I am also a member of Book Group, which stretches my usual tastes, at the moment we are looking at the collected works of Philip Larkin. You will never find me without a book in my bag (usually nestled next to a travel atomiser these days).

    Hummm you have me intrigued with Stephen King, I am quite a scaredy cat so have avoided him until now…

  14. Tora says:

    My favorite hobby is reading, also. I am glad to hear that you too love your kindle. It has made taking a library everywhere so easy. It slips in to my purse and is such a comfort to know that is all I need for entertainment. I just finished reading Anna Karenina, for my Book Club, my first and Last Tolstoy. I tend to like more modern writers. I adore Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy, Ann Patchett, T.C. Boyle, Ivan Doig, William Gibson, Willa Cather, Isabel Allende, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Jose Saramago, Toni Morrison, and I could keep listing authors for a while I guess. I am hosting our Book Club tonight to discuss Bel Canto and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Bel Canto is up there in my top ten favorite books! After books, I just Love movies and gripping TV series. I am currently watching Breaking Bad, and I just finished watching Lillyhammer and House of Cards. My favorite movies of last year were Silver Linings Playbook, Flight, and The Impossible. Now that my children are all grown up and living on their own, I have the time for these entertaining diversions. Oh yes, I love reading your blog while sipping my morning coffee!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I had to laugh about your first and last Tolstoy, the Russians are not necessarily for me either. 🙂
      Bel Canto is at the top of my list now, thanks for all your recommendations, Tora!

    • Alexandra says:

      Ooh I am also placing Bel Canto on my reading list – I was completely swept away by State of Wonder also by Ann Patchett – thank you!

      • Miss Woolf says:

        Bel Canto is a small masterpiece I believe (although it’s always dangerous to big a book up too much), and I really liked State of Wonder too. Are you all using Goodreads? It’s such a great app. Good for recommendations too.

  15. FeralJasmine says:

    Books, my career, my husband (being married is an ongoing process, a really active hobby, I think) and dogs. Lots of dogs. All my adult life I’ve had adult rescue dogs, two or sometimes three at a time, and the process of seeing them learn to be in the household and unfold into good happy dogs never fails to entrance me. In a review of a scent on STC I found myself writing that the open “bounds up at you like a joyous, unruly golden retriever,” and realized how many metaphors I’ve drawn from my animal companions. The dogs tolerate the perfume hobby, and they really love civet; synthetic musks, however, leave them cold (!)

  16. Suzanne says:

    Running, writing and reading are my big three. I think that growing up on a farm shaped me into someone who distinctly needs to be outdoors and moving a lot, so I will basically find a way to do that in any kind of weather. Also, I find that when I’m running and pushing myself in a physical way, my mind is directed away from worry and over-thinking things, which I’m quite prone to do otherwise.

    Reading is second-nature to me, and I prefer modern writers with a literary bent or a very distinctive voice. John Irving is one of my favorite writers, and others include Michael Ondaatje, Michael Cunningham, William Kennedy, Anne Tyler, Josephine Humphreys, Tim O’Brien, Mark Salzman, Charles Frazier, and Michael Chabon. I’m currently reading Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.

  17. kjanicki says:

    After perfume, I guess my next big passion is fitness. I strength train 3 days a week, do yoga, run and take boxing classes. I’m also pretty careful about my diet and eat clean, 5 small meals a day. So, the gym, cooking and eating takes up most of my time when I’m not working 🙂

    When she was alive, my beloved golden retriever trumped everything. We will get another someday, but for now you can find me at the gym.

  18. shellyw says:

    My favorite hobbies are reading as many have stated and something less common. I have a 102 pound bernese mountain dog. Over the last 4 years I have been teaching her to cart (pull a cart or wagon). They were used for this originally in Switzerland. She is my love and it is a team deal. We are not good at it but it is time spent together.

  19. Tara says:

    I’m joining the Book Brigade! I love to curl up in bed with my Kindle and the essential oil burner going. My last good read was “The Woodcutter” by Kate Danley which is a dark but uplifting story that weaves in traditional fairy-tales. I’m a sucker for a story set in the land of the Fae!

    I agree that it’s lovely to escape into another world for a while. I love Neil Gaiman for that reason. Stardust and Neverwhere are two of my favourites. I also love Marian Keyes!

    Like Alex, I’m going to extend my horizons and try the Dark Tower series on your recommendation. I’ve also been wondering about the Games of Thrones books, so it’s encouraging that you are getting on well with the first one.

  20. Amy Bella says:

    About seven years ago a friend and I were bored and decided to go skating at a local rink. It was so much fun that I started taking group lessons and pretty soon I had a private coach and was jumping, spinning, testing, and competing! I can’t believe that I finally found my sport – I have never been athletic. Figure skating has become such a huge part of my life… It is my moving meditation, great exercise, and a creative and social outlet. And I am very lucky to live in an area where there is a large, very supportive adult skating community!

    Eat, sleep, sniff, skate! 🙂

  21. Birgit, this is such a good topic, and it looks as if most perfume lovers are people who like to read while smelling good. My reading started when I was a child. My favorite book was an oversized, illustrated copy of Moby Dick. Later, I was the town’s busiest baby sitter, and the libraries of all my clients were available to me. One of our neighbors was a literature professor, and he took an interest in my reading habit and directed my choices. Above all, I love Russian writers – almost all of them, and I follow my mentor’s advice to read certain works once a decade to see how your perceptions have changed. My favorite contemporary writers are Phillip Roth, J. M. Coetzee, and Ann Patchett. Norman Mailer’s book, “Harlot’s Ghost” about the CIA is such a good novel about that secretive agency that it is required reading for training “spooks”. I also read the literature about the Kennedy assassination, in particular “Lee & Me” and “Dr. Mary’s Monkey”.
    My other main interest is music. I’m a pianist and love the piano works of Bach.

  22. fleurdelys says:

    Yoga, animals, environmental conservation, opera. Reading is such a necessity for existence, like food and water, that I don’t even think of it as a passion!

  23. Tatiana says:

    Perfume, cooking, reading, art (creating things with my hands) and of course riding horses. When my husband and I were dating I had a case of the flu. He wanted to see me, but I was in no condition to go out on a date. So he came over every day with soup and “The Princess Bride”. He would help me bathe, feed me and then read to me until I fell asleep in his lap. When I would wake up, I would realize that he had done the dishes, my laundry and straightened up for me. He did this until I felt better. And then we alternated reading to each other. To this day, we still read to each other. Our house is filled with stacks and shelves of books everywhere. When I’m not at the barn riding and grooming my horse, cleaning tack, sweeping barn aisles, mucking out stalls or taking my horse out to pasture, I can pretty much be found reading or drawing.
    As far as collecting… I also love writing instruments and lipsticks!

    • Farouche says:

      Another perfumed rider! Do you wear perfume to the barn? I usually don’t, but my horse seems to like Cristalle 😉

      • Tatiana says:

        Farouche, I do wear scent to the barn. Another of my rider friends also loves perfume and we exchange samples when we see each other. Although, she has distinctly different tastes in fragrance than I do. Whenever I wear something with Iris or orris root in it, like No.19 or Equistrius, my mare will snuffle me convinced I’m hiding treats from her.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is such a beautiful story, thanks for sharing it!
      The Princess Bride is a book I discovered only recently, it isn’t very well known over here. I love it! The characters are instantly loveable and it’s great fun.

    • Suzanne says:

      Seconding what Birgit said, this is such a beautiful thing to hear, Tatiana. What a lovely, lovely man!

      • Tatiana says:

        Suzanne & Birgit, thank you. This summer, I will be married 23 years to this man. Not a day goes by where I don’t think how lucky and blessed I am to have met him. His kindness, generosity and caring inspires me to strive to be a better person every day.

  24. Sandra says:

    Wonderful topic today which has given me all sorts of books to place on my to read list. I love reading and now as my dear son is getting older I am reading more. He loves reading too and is willing to sit through Dickens, Harry Potter and King Arthur. When I finish a chapter he runs after me with the book in hand asking for more. So, yes, reading is a passion of mine as well as classical music. As for hobbies, photography and painting are at the top. This world is too beautiful to miss anything.

    • Olfactoria says:

      It’s so important to pass on the love for reading to our children. That and brushing their teeth perfectly are the only things I’m really proud of so far in my mothering career. 😉

      Sandra is an amazing painter, people! When she is famous we all can proudly say: I knew her then!

  25. Civava says:

    I love reading too, but can’t find enough time to read as much as I would like to. The other favorite thing is diving and the trhird motorcycling. Nowdays I’m running out of time and I can hardly do anything but read a book from time to time. Other hobbies are on standby now.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Battling time – that is really awful these days, isn’t it? The older we get, the faster time is running away from us (at least that’s how I feel). 🙂
      Awesome hobbies, Civava!

  26. What a lovely Monday Question, Birgit! And I must say that I am so impressed with how you sharpened your language skills through reading. It definitely inspires me to do the same with the languages that I am not that good in like Spanish, Italian . . . actually, I am quite functional in Spantalian 😉

    I have always been a bookworm too. I never really had the mental block to e-books though, partly because I love reading on vacation but I have always hated lugging a bag full of heavy books. An e-reader seemed like a natural solution and it is amazing how natural it feels.

    As you know, my other passions are food and drink. I taught wine tasting classes for a while, so that is a language that I feel very familiar with. It has also been a language that has translated well to perfume. In the past few years, I have branched out into craft beer, which has been exciting.

    And I am a big ol’ cocktail snob. I will criticize the ice if it has air bubbles because air tastes bad! That’s so psycho, isn’t it? 🙂

  27. anatu13 says:

    Books before perfume for me! Mostly science fiction (the good stuff, not the awful stuff!), but I’ve just discovered literary horror–Daniel Mills especially, as his usually have a religious element, which I find particularly interesting. In addition to Mills, my favorite authors are (these are all SF): Ursula LeGuin, Ted Chiang, Nancy Kress, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Pat Cadigan, Nnedi Okorafor, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nalo Hopkinson, Maureen McHugh, Walter Jon Williams, Gloria Naylor, Charles Stross, James Patrick Kelly, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, etc. etc.

    My other big hobby is game conventions (for board and card games, miniature war gaming, RPGs, etc.)–I help run Carnage in Vermont–and role-playing games.

  28. Reading and writing were the first two things to come to my mind. I tend to think of them together. Like you, I love Irving and King. So many writers come to mind that I love- Hemingway and Dickens among others.

    The satisfaction of finding a well-written book is one of life’s great pleasures. And transferring an idea from my mind to paper or electronic medium is a very satisfying thing for me. “The Girl With Glass Feet” by Ali Shaw and “Touch” by Alexi Zentner are two excellent books that I have enjoyed recently.

  29. John Oehler says:

    I’m delighted to have found this website, thanks to a recommendation by Jordan River of TheFragrantMan. I’ll begin by saying you could have fooled me when you mentioned you’re a not a native English speaker. I know many native speakers who are far less adept than you.

    My interest in fragrances spans three decades and has more to do with the psychology of scents than with being able to identify the ingredients of individual perfumes (a talent I possess to only a minimal degree). I’ve visited ISIPCA in Versailles four times and, each time, spent about half a day with Jean Kerléo. During one visit, he took me down to the vault of the Osmothèque. He has had an amazing career (30 years as the master perfumer for Jean Patou), and I regard him as my mentor in the realm of perfumes.

    As to your Monday Question today, I’m a writer, so books are a major part of my life. I share your taste for Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose is one of my all-time favorites, along with Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and Dune by Frank Herbert. But I read all kinds of books, from mysteries and thrillers to literary fiction to history and biographies.

    I noticed that Ines likes The Passage by Justin Cronin. Before his daughter asked him to write a vampire story with a heroine her age, he had been writing literary fiction, which I happen to think displays his skills better than The Passage does. In particular, I would recommend The Summer Guest. In a similar vein, almost anything by Annie Proulx is worth reading.

    For heroines to fall in love with, it’s hard to beat Lisbeth Salander in the “Dragon Tattoo” books of Steig Larrson. Or Adelia Aguilar in Ariana Franklin’s series of medieval stories that begns with Mistress of the Art of Death.

    I also noticed that some of your readers are foodies. So am I. In fact, my brother and I used to cook competitively. He unfortunately has surpassed me and is now a test chef for Cook’s Illustrated. But like him, I still cook 95% of the meals at home. I recently read two books that other foodies might enjoy, Balzac’s Omelette by Anka Muhlstein and The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais.

    It’s great to see that some of your readers are dog lovers. We’re currently on our third Old English Sheepdog (first female). She alternates between being a terrorist and the most adorable girl you can imagine. As evidence of the latter, she has her own Facebook page and many more “friends” than I do (if interested, search for Elfie Oehler).

    Okay, I’ve taken up more than enough space. Suffice to say, I think this is a great website with a bunch of fans I can readily relate to. I’ll promote it on my Facebook pages and wil be checking back frequently.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello John,

      how lovely of you to stop by.

      Thank you for sharing your book tips, it’s great to hear about the literary loves of an author, as I believe writing is not possible without reading voraciously.

      I am very impressed by your relationship with the eminent Jean Kerléo, who is often described as very reserved. He must be a fascinating man to talk with.

      I often think (rather immodestly) that perfume lovers are “renaissance” people who are highly educated and have broad-ranging interests. You absolutely fit into this mental mold of mine. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog, I hope to see you here again!

      • johnoehler says:

        About Kerléo, when I first met him, he was in a meeting with Marcello Aspria at ISIPCA (there’s a photo on my website at The meeting lasted several hours and, when Marcello and I left and were walking to the train station, Marcello told me two things I found hard to believe. One was that Kerléo rarely granted an interview that lasted more than ten minutes — the man had just spent an entire afternoon with us. The other was that Kerléo was such a formidable personality that even other perfumers were afraid to approach him. This fits with your description of him as “very reserved.” But it does not fit the man I met. Perhaps he has mellowed after retirement from Jean Patou, or simply with age. But the Kerléo I met and interviewed four times over four years, is a warm, generous gentleman quite willing to talk about such personal things as his childhood in Brittany, his “stumbling” into the perfume business, and his wife’s favorite fragrances. He suggested places for my wife and me to visit in Brittany. He even allowed me to use his name in the first chapter of my book, Aphrodesia. A measure of my affection for him is that I dedicated Aphrodesia to two people, my wife and Jean Kerléo.

    • shellyw says:

      Yeah, what a lovely type of dog you have. Enjoyed reading one of your books too.

  30. Nancysg says:

    As others have mentioned, reading is a hobby I really enjoy. My special genre is reading the ‘New Yorker’ magazine. I have been receiving it for over 30 years now and reading it pretty much cover to cover every week. The hardest part is when I am away from home for a few weeks and come home to 4 issues that of course I have to read. Can’t possibly throw them out! It takes me a month to catch up. I do read books as well, but the New Yorker is always a priority.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Wow, that is impressive! We have a New Yorker subscription as well, but I almost never make it through the entire issue before the month is over.
      I love, love, love that magazine!

  31. Anna in Edinburgh says:

    As a reader since the age of three, I have to ask: Is there no love for Discworld here? Or for any of Sir Terry Pratchett’s other thought-provoking and hilarious novels?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Sorry, I never got into the habit. I read one Dicworld book years ago, but never got around to really getting to know the series (not yet at least!).

    • anatu13 says:

      I need to read more Pratchett! Wee Free Men was hilarious, and I loved Good Omens, which I believe he co-wrote with Gaiman.

  32. Lila says:

    I also enjoy reading. I love the exquisite style of writing that the classics offer. Reading the Brontes, Tolstoy, Wharton…is the equivalent of going to an art museum for me. A modern day author whose style I admire is Barbara Kingsolver. I appreciate an author (as well as a perfumer) who can masterfully manipulate words (ingredients) to weave a story (scent) so that it undulates. So many present day authors are lacking that skill with words. It seems like they just want to get to the denouement as quickly as possible.

    Another great love of mine is baking. Especially breads and pastries. I was fortunate to take a croissant class while I was in Paris last December! I love baking cakes. They were a specialty of my moms and I have yet to attain her expertise, but I’m trying. I have weakness for cookbooks, mostly about baking, but I love all kinds of food/cuisine so I’ve collected quite an eclectic assortment of cookbooks. I guess I don’t have to mention that I’m a “foodie” as well. I love trying different types of food and flavor combinations. This means I have to work out. A lot! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love what you say about language in your first paragraph, I agree, a great writer is a master of manipulation.
      But I’m so taken with the idea of a croissant class, I can’t be very coherent right now. 😉

  33. andreastrata says:

    I have some big passions other that perfumes! First, furniture design and lamps! Then I would go for glasses (Especially eyeglasses). Last, but not least, cooking (if I have time…).
    My favorite design book is ”Designing Design” by Kenya Hara and I would also suggest ”The laws of simplicity” by John Maeda and all books by Bruno Munari.
    Other books I liked that I see now on the shelf: Deluxe by Diana Thomas and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
    BUT, THE book I love and I would suggest to anyone is In Praise of shadows by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.

    (this is finally my wordpress name… It took me a while to understand how it worked because ti would mess up with psw and username… so, I’ve been Andrea S., Giabbotomato. ahahha. It’s always me)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I can look at great design catalogues or books for hours, so I totally get your passion. Thank you for the book suggestions, I will definitely check them out.

  34. Vanessa says:

    I am also a lover of reading (mainly contemporary literary fiction and thrillers), but my hobby has been stymied since I moved house by the vagaries of my inherited hot water system – for it is in the bath that I typically like to devour books. The boiler only delivers enough hot water for a proper soak about every month or so, so my reading rate has plummeted. I am doing a lot of knitting though – partly to keep warm in this perishing winter we’re still having! But I love the satisfaction of creating something at the end of the intrinsically comforting process of knitting. And the jewel-like balls of wool in the wool basket are a source of pleasure in themselves. And I enjoy seeing live music – that’s a bit of a passion too I suppose. I wish I could say exercise or gardening, but I need to push myself to do that. Maybe when the weather improves…

    • Olfactoria says:

      I heard you say that about your plumbing several times now and it haunts me. I’m so dependent on my daily hot bath for keeping my sanity, I would probably sell the house and move to a functioning bathroom, surrounding house optional. 🙂
      I’m glad you found a less invasive alternative in knitting though.

  35. Natalie says:

    I will follow Suzanne’s lead and pick a top three. Reading, travel, and “something new.” It doesn’t really matter what it is, I am usually up for trying something I haven’t done before. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s answers. So many readers means so many book recommendations. 🙂

  36. Alice says:

    Walking! Round cities (perhaps exploring is a better word). Mostly this is in London, where I live, but any large city is hugely exciting for me. Also yoga. I have never been at all sporty, but was very pleased to discover yoga about 7 years ago, following a period of illness, and now it’s an important part of life for both me and my partner. On Saturday 7-8 am we did 108 sun salutations for charity. Also sailing, since I was a child and read…Arthur Ransome. Yes, I am another bookworm. I like many of the authors listed above and would add Ian Banks.

    • Olfactoria says:

      It gives me hope that you are saying you’ve never been sporty, but still enjoy yoga, I think that could really be the sport for me too.

      Exploring big cities is great!

      • Alice says:

        Yes, it’s totally inclusive, and non-competitive.. and full of variety so I never lose interest. I started at 46, and am now 54, so if I can learn to do head-stands I think anybody can!

    • johnoehler says:

      I used to live in London. It’s a great city to explore. In case you didn’t know, there are lots of free walking tours you can take, each dedicated to a particular subject, like Sherlock Holmes, or the Great Fire, or a writer like Dickens.

      Paris is also great. I once tried to find all the places mentioned in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum — with moderate success.

      If you have The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (a great book for book lovers), you can do the same in Barcelona.

  37. scentsate says:

    Well, in the spirit of being original, I’ll have to say reading. I like books of maxims, like La Rochefoucauld’s. Right now I’m reading Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary. The Dover version is only 139 pages but it’s very dense. Here’s my favorite one so far:

    “Critic: A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.”

    I’m sorta hoping that doesn’t apply to us perfume bloggers! On a more lowbrow note I’ve read almost all of Candace Bushnell’s books.

    I also love fashion. I’m learning how to make patterns so I can make my own designs. Hopefully you’ll see them at your local Bloomingdale’s someday!

  38. cj says:

    Like everyone else here, I also love to read. My favourite book is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I love rocks and minerals. To collect and also as the subject of my art (I’m a painter, mostly). I like looking closely at tiny things, seeing the intricacy, structure and beauty created by nature. The art I make indulges this fascination. I also love gardening (both food and flowers), although my garden has become as much a source of guilt and disappointment as satisfaction and relaxation, since I don’t really have the time to keep it up properly.

  39. rosiegreen62 says:

    Kindred Spirits, how lovely to hear about favorite hobbies. I am also an avid reader, I will read anything but my favorites are mysteries, thrillers and science fiction/fantasy. I re-read the LOTR at least once per year, it is my favorite book of all time. Birgit, if you enjoy Stephen King, you should try the books of Tabitha King. My favorite book of hers is “One on one”. I resisted getting a Kindle until my husband surprised me with one on Valentine’s Day, now I don’t know how I got along without it. Other favorite pastimes are gardening, cooking and eating food. I am also a champion couch potato and love finding new movies and tv to watch. I love the BBC. My husband and I are also the old dogs retirement home. We are now on our third rescue dog. Pearl is an interesting mix, half Bouvier and half Golden Retriever, she is a hoot and a neverending source of fun and fur.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello fellow couch potato!
      I wonder why I never got around to Tabitha King’s books… Although I’ve often thought about how hard it must be for her to put out a regular amount of writing when you are married to someone who writes so prolifically.
      BTW, I love your avatar!

  40. Annina says:

    I too am an avid reader, as well as a newer Kindle user. I am currently reading The Game of Thrones, which was difficult to get into at first. I also recently re-read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, and The Secret of Chanel No.5 by Tilar Mazzeo. I highly recommend both. One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have two children, so I also get my share of The Gruffalo and Pippi!

    I also enjoy yoga, skiing (both downhill and x-country), cross stitch, and hiking. I have recently paid off my school loans, but hope to go back to school to become a doula.

  41. Eva S says:

    Singing is my big hobby-currently two choirs plus singing lessons! This easter we’re doing Bach St John’s Passion, I love when we do the “bigger” things with orchestra and soloist. As an amateur it’s really an experience when you get to perfom with true professionals-like when we did Don Giovanni and Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem with the baryton Peter Mattei. He did that purely as favor to us since he’s from town-at the moment he’s doing Wagner at the Metropolitan…
    Reading is like breathing or eating-I just have to do it 🙂 I like reading classics, historical novels, crime, and perhaps especially fantasy and sf. I can really second Ines recommendatiion of Robin Hobb and Lois McMaster Bujold, Tad Williams is another great writer.

    • anatu13 says:

      I miss singing! My husband’s quite a bit better than I am, though, so I had him keep singing in our choir after the girls were born and I gave it up. They needed a tenor much more than another soprano LOL! (I have other hobbies, and he takes care of the girls while I’m engaging in those, so it is fair!) Lois McMaster Bujold is fantastic. I’m not recalling what I’ve read of Hobb and Williams but I know they are very good!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Choir singing is such a wonderful hobby. I used to sing in our hometown choir as a girl and I loved the big performances at Christmas and Easter.

      Reading is like breathing – so well put!

  42. Pingback: Monday Question – Which Perfume Goes Best With…? | Olfactoria's Travels

  43. My hobby is reading about art history or about tea! 🙂 I like everything about art history : every centuries, painting, architecture, drawing etc. And there is so much thing you can learn through tea too (different gardens, different flush, taiwan culture, china culture, japan culture etc.)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Art history is such a fascinating subject, I love that – unlike the field of medicine where I come from – it concentrates on the positive achievements of mankind, not its flaws.

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