Editor’s Note: John Oehler, the author of Aphrodesia, a perfume thriller (book review here) put together his list of favorite perfume books for you to read and was so generous as to do a giveaway for three lucky readers of this blog. To win a Kindle edition of Aphrodesia, please read on…
By Jordan River
We have 3 copies of John Oehler’s book to give away – to be in the draw for a Kindle copy of Aphrodesia, leave a comment about the books on the list or your favorite perfume book below or Like Aphrodesia on Facebook
The winners will be announced here 7 days later after a random draw.
To learn more about John, read my author interview.
Fragrant Reading List
John Oehler: I have a lot of the “standard” books on smell and fragrances and probably a hundred articles on subjects ranging from quirky fragrances to archaeological discoveries, from forensics to smells and flavor, from interviews with perfumers to the smell of death. These are some of my favorite references.
The best article I know of on the subject of scent and smell is “The Intimate Sense of Smell,” National Geographic, v. 170, n. 3 (September, 1986).
The blog Glass Petal Smoke has this to say about the article:
Discovering a great article on olfaction that doesn’t make you feel like a science dweeb is a rarity. That’s why the September 1986 edition of National Geographic is a must-have for anyone remotely interested in the sense of smell. For a fragrance lover, it is the equivalent of finding a hardcover copy of William Kauffman’s Perfume in excellent condition.
– Michelle Kydd
– Glass Petal Smoke
Glass Petal Smoke – full post commenting on the National Geographic article.
The National Geographic article contained a smell survey, and so many people responded that “scientists are still using the data.”
The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York (Chandler Burr)
If I could recommend only one book, it would be this one. I have the hardcover, but it seems no longer to be available. The link above is for the paperback.
The H&R Book of Perfume (Julia Müller, et al)
I have the original 4-volume set (in slipcases). I bought it in London in 1985. These were the first perfume books I ever purchased, and they are what turned me on to the world of perfumes. Before them, I was merely a casual sniffer.
Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances (Michael Edwards)
This is a beautifully illustrated guide to the great French classics. Unfortunately, it has become very expensive.
Once Upon A Time … Perfume (Annick Le Guérer)
This book was, I believe, commissioned by the Osmothèque. I bought the English language version at ISIPCA, and Jean Kerléo signed it for me. It describes twelve perfumes, with each description accompanied by a smell pad. As such, it is a truly fragrant book.
I have not seen it available online, but you can read Cheryl’s review at Now Smell This.
Collectors item Perfume – hardcover (William Kauffman)
What are your favorite perfume books?
I really enjoyed ‘The Perfect Scent’ and am very intrigued by ‘Aphrodisia’. (Btw, this is a nice follow up to your last post 🙂
Yes that was an adventure story and very behind-the-scene. Thank you for your kind words Lorraine. You are in the draw.
I obtained the William Kaufman, 1974 edition, on Amazon. It is fascinating, and richly illustrated. It has a really useful chapter by Jean Carles on studying and creating perfume.
Would love to read Aphrodesia! Thanks for the chance x
Wow, never seen a real life copy. What a treasure. Hope to read it one day too. You are in!
This is a lovely give-away, I’d love a chance to win the book. 🙂
Plus, this is an interesting list, now I’ll try and hunt down some of the books on it. I’m afraid so far I haven’t really read many books on the subject of perfume, the one I enjoyed the most was Roja Dove’s The Essence of Perfume.
The chance is yours, thank you for surrendering. You have given me a book for my reading list. Sure there is room on the shelf for any essence in any form by Mr Dove.
It’a coffee table kind of book but it is a very enjoyable read (and the pics ae great too).
my absolute favorite perfume book is Essence and Alchemy…read it over 10 times in one month!
No need to enter me in the draw as I do not have a kindle (sorry I am an old fashioned gal who loves the scent/feel of a book in her hands 🙂 !!)
Brie, like you, I prefer the smell and feel of a physical book. If you do feel like reading it, Aphrodesia is available in paperback from Amazon worldwide for $13.52 (or the equivalent amount in Sterling, Euros, Yen, etc.). It’s also available from Barnes & Noble online, and almost any bookstore can order it.
Welcome John, thanks for poppin’ in. There are lots of non- Kindle people so great to have that information so everyone can choose their preferred reading platform. Somehow it escaped me that a paperback is also available! I heard you interviewing an astronaut up in the space station on The Space Show. Technology continues to amaze me.
Jordan, thanks for mentioning The Space Show. I could post a link, but that might be exceeding my “privileges” here. Suffice to say, I was able to connect the topics of space and smell, and we did spend a lot of time discussing both Aphrodesia and a lot of the little-known tidbits about scents and smell that I love to accumulate. BTW, the host was earth-bound, but I did communicate via Twitter with an astronaut on the space station. And I had some interesting smell-related stories to tell, thanks to several email communications with an astronaut my wife knows at the Johnson Space Center.
Brie you are not in the draw. John you are not in the draw. LOL.
Yes Mandy wrote The Book in many ways and she is the only one who could have. Ancient Resins is calling me.
My favorite perfume books: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, The Perfect Scent. Jitterbug Perfume weaves a few stories together throughout time, all eventually connected through the recreation of a perfume.
Wow! How could I have forgotten about Jitterbug Perfume! I read that one four times about three years ago…fantastic book!
You make me feel old. My copy of Jitterbug Perfume was published in 1985, and I probably read it in about 1986. I think I’ve also read most of his other books. A great writer.
You are not old, just old enough to write!
As in Sinatra’s song, I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs.
Oh yes, a brilliant book – that and Mandy Aftels book are my favourite so far…
Maggie you are in! Have a great day/night ahead.
I loved Jitterbug Perfume. It was ‘Real and unreal, beautiful and strange, like a dream’ Great characters. Should be a movie.
‘“Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked.” Quoting Tom Robbins from the book.
You are in the draw.
I also really enjoyed The Secret of Chanel No. 5 by Tilar Mazzeo. Fascinating read about the history of the perfume, it’s creation, it’s popularity, and legends of Mlle. Chanel and her business practices and life.
Annina, we’lll put you in twice (is that OK Olfactoria?). Once for each book. I am sure there are unpublished secrets of Chanel No. 5. Mazzeo wrote a great book. It is on my bedside table even though I have finished it.
That’s okay. 🙂
My favorite perfume book is also The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove. Beautiful photos and informative text. I would love to be entered into the draw for the Kindle version of Aphrodesia!
Farouche, Good Morning. I have to read your favorite book. You are in the draw.
Dear Olfactoria and John
That four part slip case H&R set looks intriguing – plus a glimpse into a very different though very recent perfumed world.
An intriguing piece, for which the Dandy thanks you.
The Perfumed Dandy.
Dandy, the H&R set is available through Amazon but has become pretty expensive. What first attracted me to it was their genealogies of masculine and feminine fragrances. As a scientist, I was intrigued by the way they grouped perfumes into families of notes (green, floral, oriental, tobacco/leather, etc.) and showed which perfumes were ancestral to others. I also found it interesting that my wife and I both tend to favor oriental notes. I suspect this mutual preference has played a role in the longevity of our marriage — we like the way each other smells.
Could be a dandy draw! You are in. I had never heard of the H&R until John mentioned this series.
I loved ‘The Perfect Scent’ so much that I started to read the last few pages *really slowly*, hoping I would never finish the book. I was in a hotel in Germany at the time, one Easter Sunday; I sensed the waitresses wanted to clear away, but I was fixed to the spot, endlessly spinning out the last chapter.
Another favourite perfume-themed book is Percy Kemp’s ‘Le Musc’, about which I was tipped off by a guy in Montreal with whom I did a swap on MUA. Any time I find myself fretting about dwindling stocks of favourite scents, I think of the protagonist in that book and take a reality check. : – )
Then I enjoyed Denyse Beaulieu’s ‘The Perfume Lover’ last year and am currently loving Alyssa Harad’s book, “Coming to my Senses”, who articulates beautifully what fragrance has come to mean for so many of us.
I would love to win a copy of Aphrodesia – in any format indeed!
Never heard of Le Musc. Thank you Vanessa for widening my book sights. Is it really necessary to take a reality check though? LOL. I will read and discover what you mean. Denyse’s book The Perfume Lover – read twice and onto my second Séville à l’Aube. I believe it is sold out in Europe and the remaining stock is in Canand, USA and Downunder. Alyssa’s Coming to my Senses – did not make it to work that day. I love an all day read. You are in the draw.
I too am currently reading and very much enjoying The Perfume Lover – Just in case you were wondering…Séville à l’Aube is available at House of Fraser in London. Just had to smell this scent as I am reading the story of it’s founding. Lovely but not what I thought it would be like. I was expecting the incense and was able to smell it on my wrist hours and hours later.
it’s lovely to be able to smell the perfume the book is about. I imagined it quite differently too… but I like it.
More books for my reading list! Win it or not, I am looking forward to reading Aphrodesia.
I think the only non-fiction book about perfume that I have read is “The Emperor of Scent”. I loved it! I was floored by how little we actually know about our sense of smell, and how stubbornly the scientific community clings to the old paradigm.
For an update on the science of smell see The Quantum Unicorn post over at The Fragrant Man. The book came out 10 years ago and the scientific community have just put his theory into the spotlight or should I say under the microscope. Beautiful Amy, you are in the draw.
Amy, there’s a veiled reference to The Emperor of Scent in Chapter 3 of Aphrodesia when Eric tries to convince Diego to knuckle down and start studying for final exams. Eric offers to help, saying, “I know some things are tough for you. But maybe we could try a different approach. Principles, instead of specifics. For instance, there’s a theory about odd versus even numbers of carbon atoms in fragrance compounds.”
That’s straight out of Emperor.
I’ve gotta say I really do love Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, although I disagree with it in many places, it does make me laugh so! Thank you for the draw. 🙂
It is really a genre-defying book. “A day without a laugh is a day wasted” – Alex Taylor.
Susan you are in the draw.
“The Perfect Scent” is my favourite book too in spite of the fact that I do like some of other books mentioned by guys here 🙂 I’m very curious about “Aphrodisia” now – look forward to get a chance to read that one.
A chance is always a fine thing. You have two – one at Amazon and one here in the draw. I have never met a cat that was killed by curiosity. I think the nature of curiosity gives you at least 9 fulfilling ‘lives’ within a lifetime.
I agree. Curiosity and its pursuit keep us alive.
I haven’t read many perfume books but I do have The Guide. I also have agreed to disagree with LT on some of his 5 star reviews. Thanks for the chance to win Aphrodesia.
Yes it is great to make your own mind up. The Guide is a great place to start. Some people seem to misunderstand The Guide and get all het up and go on and on and on because their opinion is different to Turin’s or Sanchez. I am sure Luca and Tania never meant for all people everywhere to agree with them. Their opinions are erudite but still subjective. And what a genre to write! Their use of language is a joy to read.
I just heard about the very sweet comments about my book Essence and Alchemy posted here and they mean so much to me. I am hard at work on my new book which I think of as Essence and Alchemy 2.0. Thank you so much!
Fragrance Royalty! You are on my Kindle as we speak. 2.0 – yes please. Thank you Mandy for zoomin’ in from The US of A. Thank you too for all then knowledge you have shared.
By the way, for those who don’t know, most of the photos above can be enlarged by clicking on them, then clicking again.
I’ve read snippets from “The Perfect Scent” and I plan on reading the whole thing. I find it very intriguing to read about all the behind the scenes drama that goes into making a perfume. I think it adds to the prestique of a perfume. I can’t wait to read Aphrodesia.Thanks for the draw!
In The House! Hey Ferris, I smell peaches and fig. This must be scent-enhanced website as your comment has great sillage. The technology in Vienna is cutting-edge. Happy reading and you are in the draw. Thanks for wafting on by.
I haven’t read many perfume oriented books. I enjoyed The Perfume Lover and love my Seville A’L’Aube. My friend, the best fragrance SA ever, is still making her way through my copy of Perfumes: The Guide, which has both delighted and enraged her!
Haha! Shine on. You are in the draw.
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My favorite perfume book is Roja Dove’s The Essence of Perfume.I only got to browse through it in the book store.It was very expensive and the next time I went to, it had been sold.Its impossible to get Amazon to ship to South Africa as well.Thanks for the giveaway.