100 books like The Emperor Of Scent

By Chandler Burr,

Here are 100 books that The Emperor Of Scent fans have personally recommended if you like The Emperor Of Scent. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Perfume

Theresa Levitt Author Of Elixir: A Parisian Perfume House and the Quest for the Secret of Life

From my list on perfume and scent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of science who just completed a book on the role of perfume in the quest for the secret of life and vitality. While writing it, I became fascinated with the challenge of translating scent into language. While our nose can recognize a virtually infinite number of odors, there are only a few basic categories of description (“floral,” “woody,” “citrus,” etc.). To fully describe them often requires a poet’s touch – invoking a tapestry of memories, associations, and feelings to create the experience in the reader’s mind. These are some of the best books I’ve encountered for talking about the complex world of scent, and the importance of perfume in human history.

Theresa's book list on perfume and scent

Theresa Levitt Why did Theresa love this book?

A gruesome story of murder and desire that also happens to have the most vivid olfactory descriptions of any genre.

Suskind’s preternatural ability to summon odor from the page makes you feel as if you are there beside him, walking through the flowered hillsides of Provence, or in the back room of a perfume shop on the Pont au Change. His twisted use of classic perfume techniques is as accurate as it is chilling.

By Patrick Suskind,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Perfume as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An erotic masterpiece of twentieth century fiction - a tale of sensual obsession and bloodlust in eighteenth century Paris

'An astonishing tour de force both in concept and execution' Guardian

In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today.

It is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts…


Book cover of The Foul & the Fragrant: Odor & the French Social Imagination

Theresa Levitt Author Of Elixir: A Parisian Perfume House and the Quest for the Secret of Life

From my list on perfume and scent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of science who just completed a book on the role of perfume in the quest for the secret of life and vitality. While writing it, I became fascinated with the challenge of translating scent into language. While our nose can recognize a virtually infinite number of odors, there are only a few basic categories of description (“floral,” “woody,” “citrus,” etc.). To fully describe them often requires a poet’s touch – invoking a tapestry of memories, associations, and feelings to create the experience in the reader’s mind. These are some of the best books I’ve encountered for talking about the complex world of scent, and the importance of perfume in human history.

Theresa's book list on perfume and scent

Theresa Levitt Why did Theresa love this book?

A classic of cultural history that shows how thoroughly smell shapes our lived experience.

Corbin details how different (and generally worse) France smelled in the past, and how this world of miasmas and insalubrious airs dictated hygiene practices and social interactions. More recent works, like Jonathan Reinarz’ Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell have further built on the treatment of odor as a powerful cultural force.

By Alain Corbin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Foul & the Fragrant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a book whose insight and originality have already had a dazzling impact in France, Alain Corbin has put the sense of smell on the historical map. He conjures up the dominion that the combined forces of smells--from the seductress's civet to the ubiquitous excremental odors of city cesspools--exercised over the lives (and deaths) of the French in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Book cover of Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent

Theresa Levitt Author Of Elixir: A Parisian Perfume House and the Quest for the Secret of Life

From my list on perfume and scent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of science who just completed a book on the role of perfume in the quest for the secret of life and vitality. While writing it, I became fascinated with the challenge of translating scent into language. While our nose can recognize a virtually infinite number of odors, there are only a few basic categories of description (“floral,” “woody,” “citrus,” etc.). To fully describe them often requires a poet’s touch – invoking a tapestry of memories, associations, and feelings to create the experience in the reader’s mind. These are some of the best books I’ve encountered for talking about the complex world of scent, and the importance of perfume in human history.

Theresa's book list on perfume and scent

Theresa Levitt Why did Theresa love this book?

Ellena is a legendary perfumer, who has devoted his life to the creation of evocative scents.

In this book, he invites the reader into his process. We learn a lot about the inner workings of the perfume industry. But even more interesting are the insights into Ellena’s own mind as he navigates memory, imagination, and pleasure in the pursuit of new scents both soothing and surprising.

By Jean-Claude Ellena,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perfume as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To women the whole world over, perfume means glamour, and in the world of perfume, Jean-Claude Ellena is a superstar. In this one-of-a-kind book, the master himself takes you through the doors of his laboratory and explains the process of creating precious fragrances, revealing the key methods and recipes involved in this mysterious alchemy.
Perfume is a cutthroat, secretive multibillion-dollar industry, and Ellena provides an insider's tour, guiding us from initial inspiration through the mixing of essences and synthetic elements, to the deluxe packaging and marketing in elegant boutiques worldwide, and even the increasingly complicated safety standards that are set…


Book cover of Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume

Theresa Levitt Author Of Elixir: A Parisian Perfume House and the Quest for the Secret of Life

From my list on perfume and scent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of science who just completed a book on the role of perfume in the quest for the secret of life and vitality. While writing it, I became fascinated with the challenge of translating scent into language. While our nose can recognize a virtually infinite number of odors, there are only a few basic categories of description (“floral,” “woody,” “citrus,” etc.). To fully describe them often requires a poet’s touch – invoking a tapestry of memories, associations, and feelings to create the experience in the reader’s mind. These are some of the best books I’ve encountered for talking about the complex world of scent, and the importance of perfume in human history.

Theresa's book list on perfume and scent

Theresa Levitt Why did Theresa love this book?

Aftel is the Alice Waters of natural perfume and here she shares the secrets of her craft while revealing their rich history.

She brings out the magic and alchemy in humankind’s long-standing efforts to capture the aromatic essences of plants, evoking a hidden world of natural fragrances and their ability to seduce, heal, intoxicate, and transport one to another state.

By Mandy Aftel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essence and Alchemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As long as there has been passion, there has been perfume. Wealthy Romans used to scent their doves while in Shakespeare's time, a woman in love would place a peeled apple into her armpit to saturate it with her scent and then present it to her lover. "Essence and Alchemy" resurrects the social and metaphysical legacy that is entwined with the evolution of perfumery, from the dramas of the spice trade to the quests of the alchemists. Aftel tracks scent through the boudoir and the bath and into the sanctums of worship, and along the way teaches us the art…


Book cover of The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession

Stan Hieronymus Author Of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

From my list on about aroma and flavor.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I began research on For the Love of Hops about 70 percent of the hops grown worldwide were valued simply for the bitterness they added to beer, but that was about to flip completely. Today, new varieties like Citra and Mosaic are powerful brands, with aromas and flavors that hops never exhibited in the past. That’s why the book begins with a deep dive into how and why we smell and taste what we do, something these books helped me better understand.

Stan's book list on about aroma and flavor

Stan Hieronymus Why did Stan love this book?

Chandler Burr eases readers into the complex world of our most mysterious sense, smell, through the eyes of Luca Turin. Turin began collecting fragrances as a lark, wrote a book reviewing the world’s perfumes, and came up with a theory about how smell works. He thought he could win a Nobel Prize. That he didn’t hardly matters, because his quest whets my appetite for more books on the topic.

By Chandler Burr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Emperor of Scent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Emperor of Scent tells of the scientific maverick Luca Turin, a connoisseur and something of an aesthete who wrote a bestselling perfume guide and bandied about an outrageous new theory on the human sense of smell. Drawing on cutting-edge work in biology, chemistry, and physics, Turin used his obsession with perfume and his eerie gift for smell to turn the cloistered worlds of the smell business and science upside down, leading to a solution to the last great mystery of the senses: how the nose works.


Book cover of The Crimson Petal and the White

Alex Dolan Author Of The Euthanist

From my list on female protagonists who you hate to root for.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m obsessed with the exploration of what it means to be a human being. We’re coming into an era where we see more characters who aren’t good or evil but both—they possess the potential to save someone from jumping off a bridge one day and beating someone the next. We’re all capable of the greatest acts of kindness and the most abominable atrocities imaginable. I believe we need to be reminded of that fact so that when there comes a time when we can decide whether to hurt or to help someone, we become the better version of ourselves and make the right decision.

Alex's book list on female protagonists who you hate to root for

Alex Dolan Why did Alex love this book?

Michael Faber is one of my favorite writers of all time, and the same author of Under the Skin, another wonderful book with a female protagonist you’ll hate yourself for loving. Faber’s range as a storyteller is incredible, and along with his mastery of horror and science fiction, he shows that he can put together a Victorian epic that is gorgeously written, with a main character, Sugar, who is a complicated character—a sex worker by trade who sometimes makes bad choices but is admirable in how she has to navigate the world of pompous, detestable men to survive. 

By Michel Faber,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Crimson Petal and the White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them . . .'

So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition and revenge.


Book cover of Jitterbug Perfume

Robin Esrock Author Of The Great Global Bucket List

From my list on inspiring your bucket list travels.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a travel writer, author, broadcaster, speaker, and producer, I’ve reported from over 100 countries on 7 continents for major print and digital publications worldwide and networks like National Geographic and Travel Channel.  I kicked off my career with a solo, 12-month round-the-world backpacking adventure, largely inspired by the formative books I read below. Embracing the world with insatiable curiosity, an open heart, an open mind, a sense of humour, and enthusiasm to share my stories clearly resonated. Here I am, two decades later, author of a half-dozen bestselling books that focus on my own eclectic travels, which will hopefully inspire others as these books inspired me.  

Robin's book list on inspiring your bucket list travels

Robin Esrock Why did Robin love this book?

Nobody writes like Tom Robbins, although admittedly, his wild wit, metaphorical overkill, and commitment to not taking anything too seriously might not appeal to everyone.

Put me on a long train ride or a slow ship with a worn paperback copy of any of his books, and I can happily lose myself in his zany, funny, thought-provoking, and sexy world. Exotic locations are baked into most of his books, and you can burn your retinas on each page’s creative flair.

Put down this book, and you’ll never look at beets, immortality, or life in quite the same way again. Tom Robbins inspired me to read more, write more, and, most importantly, live more.  

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Jitterbug Perfume as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jitterbug Perfume is an epic. Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight [Paris time]. It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle is actually the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is…


Book cover of The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume

Julia Crowe Author Of My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords from 70 Legendary Musicians

From my list on what drives an artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, film composer, guitarist, multimedia artist, and perfumer. As a music journalist, I’ve written extensively for many major U.S. and international guitar publications before launching the website, The Guitar. My music has been featured on National Public Radio and worldwide at major U.S. and international art and design museum festivals. Part of being a writer is about expressing one’s curiosity through constant delving and engaging in the ongoing process of discovery. What compels me is the attempt to understand the inspiration that drives an artist to create a distinctively beautiful melody, fragrance, or artwork—one that grabs your attention with a mesmerizing, transfixing, and soulful quality. 

Julia's book list on what drives an artist

Julia Crowe Why did Julia love this book?

Mazzeo’s book provides fascinating insight into a perfume that has enjoyed insane sales longevity when most tend to fade from the market. The book offers a portrait of the orphaned young woman’s convent upbringing to her days as a chanteuse and milliner to her rise in society as a fashion designer. Some say Chanel No. 5 resulted from a happy fluke of dumping too much aliphatic aldehydes into the juice, yet it became instantly iconic as the first clean, modern perfume, one that did not fall into the established vamp/ingenue fragrance categories of the day.  It reached iconic status during WWII as a tax-free product sold in military commissaries around the world. Not all smells sweet: Coco proved to be a Nazi sympathizer in a failed attempt to regain control of her business.    

By Tilar J. Mazzeo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret of Chanel No. 5 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With its rich golden hue, art deco-inspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel Number 5 is the world's bestselling perfume. Reverently known among industry insiders as "le monstre" - the monster - it is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Yet how did this pioneering celebrity fragrance, introduced in the early 1920s, eventually take on a life of its own, becoming a cultural monument celebrated by millions of devoted consumers? "The Secret of Chanel Number 5" is Tilar J. Mazzeo's far-ranging and fascinating search beyond the stuff of legend to uncover the full…


Book cover of Stalking Shadows

Robyn Tocker Author Of What We Didn't Say: An Ever After Tales Collection

From my list on fairy tale retellings for the young at heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved fairy tales since I was a little girl and watched my first Disney movie. Over the years, I’ve read many fairy tale retellings, as well as the original versions. I love how writers can see a story like Beauty and the Beast and find ways to make an almost completely new story, but still hold true to the original concepts of the fairy tale. Fairy tales connect us to our childhood and when we read these new versions, it lets us relive a part of our childhood. Not many books can do that! 

Robyn's book list on fairy tale retellings for the young at heart

Robyn Tocker Why did Robyn love this book?

Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairy tale, so not only do I read every retelling I can get my hands on, but I’m quite particular about how I rate them. Stalking Shadows exceeded all expectations. I loved how she changed the genders of her Beauty and Beast (or Beasts). I love when women are allowed to be beastly and monstrous. Panin also didn’t shy away from talking about tough subjects in her book, another reason I loved it so much. I especially liked how she tackled racism and Lord Sebastian’s experiences as a biracial child growing up in the village.  

By Cyla Panin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalking Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister's curse and stop the killing in her small French town—now in paperback

Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small 18th-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living at the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately—not with poison, but…


Book cover of How To Be Married

Nancy Barone Author Of Storm in a D Cup

From my list on iffy marriages and other adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t remember how many times I thought someone was The One, but I know I’ve had to kiss a lot of frogs before I found my own Prince Charming. The path was riddled with self-doubt, interfering wicked witches, and wondering whether it was all worth the heartache. As it turns out, none of them were until I finally did find my HEA. I’d become an expert on navigating all the Single Lady tropes: moving to another country in search of the elusive happy ending, getting a better job, enduring the gossip about why I was single. I’d recommend all of these if you are having relationship trouble or doubts about yourself. You're not alone!

Nancy's book list on iffy marriages and other adventures

Nancy Barone Why did Nancy love this book?

In this novel Florist Sadie Drew thinks her marriage depends on how good an impression she can make on the other corporate wives. Too bad she’s anything but a housewife.

She has her own career, her own personality, and her own friends. She doesn’t need to wear Mary Archer dresses. And yet, her husband Tom seems very disappointed at her inability to blend in with the other wives. Why can’t she be a good wife like all the others? Good question. Especially when we find out that Sadie and Tom had lost a baby. Now she wants to try again, but Tom is not having any of it.

Does he not love her anymore? Is he having an affair?  What she doesn’t know is how much Tom has suffered for their loss, and how afraid he was to see Sadie shutting down after the miscarriage.

By Polly Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How To Be Married as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sadie Drew thinks she must be the world's worst wife. She only needs to walk into a room to make it untidy. She wears flannel pyjamas in bed. Furry things breed in her fridge. But she's a busy working mother not a wifebot and husband Tom loves her as she is. Until he gets a hot new job and things change. There are alpha-wives to entertain. Nuclear rows. Unsettling secrets. And the smell of another woman's perfume on his suit. Sadie risks losing everything if she can't transform herself into the perfect wife...

But what is a perfect wife anyway?


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