100 books like The Foul & the Fragrant

By Alain Corbin,

Here are 100 books that The Foul & the Fragrant fans have personally recommended if you like The Foul & the Fragrant. 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 Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

Hannah Platts Author Of Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses

From my list on multisensory history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for ancient history and archaeology began in secondary school when I started learning Latin and we were taken on a field trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace. By the time I started my MA at Bristol, my obsession with ancient Roman housing was well and truly established, and it quickly became clear to me that this was the area that I wanted to study for my PhD. Now as an Associate Professor in Ancient History and Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, I have been very lucky to study and teach a range of areas in ancient history and archaeology, including my beloved area of the Roman domestic realm. 

Hannah's book list on multisensory history

Hannah Platts Why did Hannah love this book?

Exploring how and why Romans built their houses to impact all bodily senses sits at the heart of my book.

Whilst interest in planning and building for such full body experiences in architecture today has declined, Pallasmaa’s The Eyes of the Skin presents a compelling argument for the importance of understanding the role of the multiple bodily senses in our experience of built spaces around us.

Divided into two main sections, the first of these examines the pre-eminence of sight in the West and its detrimental impact on architectural practise and our built environs.

The second part considers the role played our other bodily senses in experiencing architecture and proposes a new approach to building design and construction which seeks to integrate full sensory experience into the architectural process.

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory. For every new intake of students studying Pallasmaa s classic text, The Eyes of the Skin provides a totally fresh understanding of architecture and a new set of insights. This third edition is intended to meet students desire for a further understanding of the context of Pallasmaa s thinking by providing a new essay by architectural author and educator Peter MacKeith. This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking. The new edition will includes a new…


Book cover of A Sensory History Manifesto

Hannah Platts Author Of Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses

From my list on multisensory history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for ancient history and archaeology began in secondary school when I started learning Latin and we were taken on a field trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace. By the time I started my MA at Bristol, my obsession with ancient Roman housing was well and truly established, and it quickly became clear to me that this was the area that I wanted to study for my PhD. Now as an Associate Professor in Ancient History and Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, I have been very lucky to study and teach a range of areas in ancient history and archaeology, including my beloved area of the Roman domestic realm. 

Hannah's book list on multisensory history

Hannah Platts Why did Hannah love this book?

Historian Mark Smith has written widely on the topic of understanding sensory experiences of the past.

At just over 100 pages long, his most recent book is an excellent insight into the field for both those new to it, and those who are already familiar with writing history of the senses.

Starting with an overview of the origins of sensory history and moving through to consider both the strengths and challenges of current research in this area, Smith concludes this book with a clear, accessible, and persuasive argument for future directions of work in the field.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in exploring sensory history!

By Mark M. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Sensory History Manifesto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Sensory History Manifesto is a brief and timely meditation on the state of the field. It invites historians who are unfamiliar with sensory history to adopt some of its insights and practices, and it urges current practitioners to think in new ways about writing histories of the senses.

Starting from the premise that the sensorium is a historical formation, Mark M. Smith traces the origins of historical work on the senses long before the emergence of the field now called "sensory history," interrogating, exploring, and in some cases recovering pioneering work on the topic. Smith argues that we are…


Book cover of Archaeology and the Senses: Human Experience, Memory, and Affect

Hannah Platts Author Of Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses

From my list on multisensory history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for ancient history and archaeology began in secondary school when I started learning Latin and we were taken on a field trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace. By the time I started my MA at Bristol, my obsession with ancient Roman housing was well and truly established, and it quickly became clear to me that this was the area that I wanted to study for my PhD. Now as an Associate Professor in Ancient History and Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, I have been very lucky to study and teach a range of areas in ancient history and archaeology, including my beloved area of the Roman domestic realm. 

Hannah's book list on multisensory history

Hannah Platts Why did Hannah love this book?

Hamilakis’s Archaeology and the Senses was one of the first books I read when starting to explore multisensory history, and it totally altered my view of how we study the past.

Focusing on Bronze-Age Crete, Hamilakis examines how archaeology has engaged with the bodily senses thus far and critiques its emphasis on sight and the traditional hierarchy of the five senses in the west.

Moreover, he proposes an innovative and exciting means by which archaeology can move beyond its focus on visual experiences of artefacts, environments, and materials to bring in lost and neglected, yet just as important, bodily senses such as sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Through this approach to archaeology he seeks to evoke a deeper, richer insight into the breadth of human experience in past societies.

By Yannis Hamilakis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is an exciting new look at how archaeology has dealt with the bodily senses and offers an argument for how the discipline can offer a richer glimpse into the human sensory experience. Yannis Hamilakis shows how, despite its intensely physical engagement with the material traces of the past, archaeology has mostly neglected multi-sensory experience, instead prioritising isolated vision and relying on the Western hierarchy of the five senses. In place of this limited view of experience, Hamilakis proposes a sensorial archaeology that can unearth the lost, suppressed, and forgotten sensory and affective modalities of humans. Using Bronze Age…


Book cover of The Emperor Of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession and the Last Mystery of the Senses

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?

At the center of this rollicking account is the larger-than-life figure of Luca Turin, a perfume aficionado and renegade biophysicist with an uncannily sensitive nose.

Burr followed him as he traded blows with the scientific establishment over his unorthodox theory of how smell works. What emerges is a profound appreciation of just how little understood this sense still is, and how varied and potent the smells of the world are to someone as attentive to them as Turin.

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?

In the tradition of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief and James Gleick's Genius, The Emperor of Scent tells the story of Luca Turin, an utterly unusual, stubborn scientist, his otherworldly gift for perfume, his brilliant, quixotic theory of how we smell, and his struggle to set before the world the secret of the most enigmatic of our senses.


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 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 Midnight in Europe

Alan Cook Author Of East of the Wall

From my list on fiction and nonfiction about spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been intrigued by history, fictional and nonfictional. Unfortunately, warfare is a large part of history and spying is an important part of warfare, and is as old as warfare itself. If you want to win the war you need to know as much as possible about what your enemy is planning to do. I am also a puzzle solver, and making and breaking codes play a large part in spying. I have traveled widely and been to most of the places I write about. However, I am a pacifist at heart, and I keep looking for the key to world peace.

Alan's book list on fiction and nonfiction about spies

Alan Cook Why did Alan love this book?

This is a good book to read if you want to know what it felt like to be in France or other European countries in 1938 before the start of World War II when my father was saying how bad Hitler was but people didn’t believe it. Bad things were already happening and much worse things were to come. In some places you couldn't trust anybody because everybody could be a spy. People who lived in France and didn't want to leave had to face the fact that if they didn't they might lose their freedom and their lives. Franco was leading a revolution to take over Spain, and he had help from the Axis powers. This is an excellent spy novel with an accurate historical setting.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Paris, 1938. Democratic forces are locked in struggle as the shadow of war edges over Europe.

Cristian Ferrar, a handsome Spanish lawyer in Paris, is approached to help a clandestine agency supply weapons to beleaguered Republican forces. He agrees, putting his life on the line.

Joining Ferrar in his mission is an unlikely group of allies: idealists and gangsters, arms dealers, aristocrats and spies. From libertine nightclubs in Paris to shady bars by the docks in Gdansk, Furst paints a spell-binding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare - and the heroes and heroines who fought back.


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