The art and science of the world of scent.
By Alyssa Harad
A hilarious memoir of one Birkenstock-wearing feminist’s “torrid affair” with perfume. As the author learns to embrace her sensuous side, she finds the confidence to resolve several outstanding personal issues, including her reluctance to marry her partner of ten years. What emerges is an illuminating guide to the fragrance industry as well as a tender portrait of self-discovery.
By Christopher Kemp
Our columnist Adam Kirsch wonders, “What could smell better than the hardened digestive secretions of a whale? In this comprehensive history of ambergris, Christopher Kemp shows how humanity’s quest for that unique substance, whose rare odor made it a treasured ingredient in perfume, has affected the economy and ecology of the world.”
By Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
In 2008, olfactory scientist Luca Turin and perfume collector/blogger Tania Sanchez collaborated on the sprawling Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, surveying some 1,200 fragrances. Here, the sharp-nosed duo boils their encyclopedic offering down to a hundred essential scents, updating their original reviews in a trim, take-along, “best of” volume that’s nothing to sniff at.
By Chandler Burr
Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic and author of The Perfect Scent, profiles Luca Turin (c0-author of the aforementioned Little Book of Perfumes), the eccentric scientist whose nose has the olfactory equivalent of perfect pitch. In his quest for a unified theory of smell, Turin has upended conventional thinking about how our noses work, and Burr follows Turin’s journey from pariah to innovator to acknowledged expert with flair and charm.
By Rachel Herz
Among our five senses, smell is often seen as secondary, far less important to our lives than vision, hearing, or touch, and chiefly important in the way it serves taste. But Rachel Herz argues for its key role in our physical and emotional well-being, an argument bolstered by profiles of despondent individuals who have lost their olfactory senses in accidents. A revelatory journey through the body and brain, along a delightfully unexpected path.