Favorite Books : Perfume Related or Not

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What are your favorite books (do not have to be perfume related)?

Nikki, one of the commenters here, suggested that I run a thread on favorite books, whether perfume related or not. Since I love books and spend most of my free time reading, I gladly agreed. Of course, when I began to think of my own favorites, I realized that I could write a whole essay on this topic. In the end, I limited myself to only a few favorite selections, the books that I have re-read several times and look forward to revisiting again and again.

anything Agatha Christie
anything by Gogol
Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita
Sébastien Japrisot mystery novels
Tolstoy’s War and Peace
Bunin’s Life of Arseniev

And anything by Elizabeth David, whose food writing I love.

My favorite book on perfume is Michael Edwards’ Perfume Legends, which is unrivaled for its depth of information.

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46 Comments

  • bee: M&M is one of the best ever! I find your list pretty good, I don’t know the SJ mystery novels and the Bunin though. Maybe I’d add some Austens (especially P&P), I’ve re-read Possession (Byatt), I like the puzzle that is “la vie, mode d’emploi” (Perec), 100 years of solitude (Marquez), several Saramagos…. This could go on and on, I’m looking forward to the other comments! November 5, 2011 at 11:48am Reply

  • Andy: Anything Dickens, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Grapes of Wrath! I love Agatha Christie too, but sadly have not read nearly enough of her novels… November 5, 2011 at 11:53am Reply

  • Emma: anything by Jean Genet
    anything by DAF de Sade
    anything by Christine Angot
    anything by Paul Auster
    anything by Philip Roth
    Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho
    Catherine Millet The Sexual Life of Catherine M.
    Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
    J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
    J.-K. Huysmans’ A Rebours / Against the Grain (not a favorite but perfume related) November 5, 2011 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Katherine: John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga
    any Sherlock Holmes story
    anything by Guy de Maupassant
    anything by Mark Twain
    anything by F.S. Fitzgerald
    anything by Margaret Atwood
    most things by Dumas
    Sebastien Japrisot’s mysteries 🙂
    Perfume-related: The Patrick Susskind novel November 5, 2011 at 12:50pm Reply

  • Dionne: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
    The Screwtape Letter by C.S. Lewis
    A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    anything by Bill Bryson
    anything by Terry Pratchett November 5, 2011 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Safran: anything by:
    John Irving
    Toni Morrison
    Siri Hustvedt
    Lili Brett
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Heinrich Steinfest
    Angelika Schrobsdorff
    Irene Dische
    and Keri Hulme Bone People

    Perfume related I can’t really say, don’t have many. November 5, 2011 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Bronte’s, Jane Eyre, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, Mann’s Buddenbrooks and Death in Venice, Fontane’s Effi Briest, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Forster’s A Room With a View. November 5, 2011 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Tulip: My current fiction list (anything by):
    Mikhail Bulgakov (M+M)
    Jean Echenoz
    Graham Greene, Muriel Sparks
    Eliot Pattison (Tibet mysteries)
    Victor Pelevin
    Leo Tolstoy (W&P, AK)
    Marguerite Yourcenar November 5, 2011 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Elisa: Hard to say my lifelong favorites but some of my favorites from the past 10 years include Lolita by Nabokov, Howards End by EM Forster, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, White Noise by Don DeLillo, The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, Away by Amy Bloom.

    My favorite perfume book is The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr. November 5, 2011 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Elisa: Oh! And A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. November 5, 2011 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Tulip: Muriel Spark November 5, 2011 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Tulip: I just finished Murakami’s 1Q84 and liked it alot! Highly recommended. November 5, 2011 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Nikki: I love the selections above, how well read everybody is! I am reading right now:

    John Kennedy Toole’s A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES (I need some humor in my life)

    Stacy Schiff’s CLEOPATRA

    Henry James is wonderful, I love Theodor Fontane…those never ending sentences are just divine. When I get homesick, I read Thomas Mann or anything German, ditto for Fontane. I also like Balzac. I usually read several books at the same time, I prefer books that combine knowledge with writing like the Ackerman books on scents and also the book Botany of Desire. Helen Keller’s books on anthropology and its use in current times is always fascinating (mating, scents, hormones, great stuff!) November 5, 2011 at 7:04pm Reply

  • behemot: One of my favorites is, of course, Master and Margarita and it is not hard to say, because of my posting name. And many, many others.. Too many to name them, really. Some literary fascinations just come and go..
    As of perfume, I read only two books. I bought a book on Chanel No 5 by T. Mazzeo and The Perfume Guide by Ts and LT. They are ok, but I have yet to wait for my favorite perfume book.
    Hope it will be Edwards’ The Perfume legends… November 5, 2011 at 7:06pm Reply

  • Melissa: Great topic. My favorite author is Alice Munro. All of her story collections are wonderful, but if you are looking for a good place to start, choose Runaway. Two novels I have read multiple times since childhood, discovering something new about the books and about myself with each reading: Steinbeck’s The Red Pony and Melville’s Moby-Dick. Alan Lightman’s beautiful little book Einstein’s Dreams defies categorization and would be enjoyed by literary buffs and physics nerds alike. November 5, 2011 at 9:57pm Reply

  • Acrossbee: My favorite books include Possession, Our Man in Havana, The Great Gatsby, The Thin Man, as well as the Love Over Scotland series by Alexander McCall Smith. I’m also a big fan of mysteries including those by Ian Rankin, Sue Grafton and Henning Mankell. November 5, 2011 at 10:08pm Reply

  • vinery: Emile Zola’s Rougon Macquart series (all 20)
    History – anything about 18th and 19th century France November 6, 2011 at 12:14am Reply

  • ChickenFreak: Anything by Rumer Godden. I think that she’s my single favorite author.
    Anything by Calvin Trillin.
    Anything by Judith Martin. I realize that she mostly write etiquette books, and in question-and-answer format, yet, but I love her writing so much that I’ll read it in any format.
    Anything by Henry Mitchell.
    I’m surprised to see _no_ murder mysteries in my list, given that that’s what I read the most of. I love Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Martha Grimes, Ngaio Marsh, and no doubt many others that I’m forgetting, but they somehow don’t make it to the very, very top list. November 6, 2011 at 1:44am Reply

  • Austenfan: As my alias suggests Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers!
    Dorothy Sayers is another one, as are Victor Hugo, Primo Levi, Erich Kästner.
    I read non-fiction these days though, with the occasional novel. And I wish I were capable of reading the great Russian novelists in Russian. November 6, 2011 at 7:31am Reply

  • Anne: Froth of a day dream, by Boris Vian! It’s unsurpassed!

    I also LOVE LOVE LOVE reading your blog! It’s fabulous and scent inspiring! Thank you!
    Anne November 6, 2011 at 7:35am Reply

  • Anne: Oh, and just forgot to add, “the diving bell and the butterfly” by Jean Dominique Baudy.
    Anne November 6, 2011 at 7:38am Reply

  • Irina: top of my top lists:
    anything by Thomas Mann
    anything by J.L. Borges
    “Narciss and Goldmund” by H. Hesse
    Balzac, Dostoievski, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Dickens as references
    anything by Peter Beagle
    G. Amado’s ” Gabriela, clove and cinnamon”
    and the list goes on…
    wonderful topic, thank you November 6, 2011 at 7:42am Reply

  • Laura: Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land
    The Age of Wonder, by Richard Homes
    Travels of a Tangerine, by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
    Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian
    Jason Goodwin and Jenny White’s Ottoman novels
    Jerusalem, the Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore
    Sailing from Byzantium, Colin WellsJo Graham’s Black Ships
    Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams,
    Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon

    I will have to check out all the lists!!!! Thank you all, and most of all here’s a toast to you, Victoria! November 6, 2011 at 9:25am Reply

  • Laura: Victoria, I just noticed Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul in the picture above. Have you read his Museum of Innocence? That, and Noel Barber’s A Woman of Cairo. They’re not about perfume, but they’re what I would consider “scent-evocative” 🙂 November 6, 2011 at 10:01am Reply

  • Stacey: Off the top of my head:
    House of Leaves-Mark Danielewski
    all of Austen, particularly Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility
    The Bluest Eye and Beloved-Toni Morrison
    Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels (In the Woods, The Likeness especially)
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being-Milan Kundera
    Olive Kitteridge-Elizabeth Strout
    No One Belongs Here More Than You-Miranda July
    Middlesex-Jeffrey Eugenides November 6, 2011 at 10:39am Reply

  • Carla: Writers whose books I have read more than once include Ondaatje, Atwood, Forster and Austen. November 6, 2011 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Carla: May I add… I grew up with no TV and that meant a childhood spent reading. Wonderful! Now we have a (small) tv but only for movies, no channels. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the tv. Also, Internet steals my reading time, including quality blogs like yours! I don’t read half as much as I used to, but still more than most. Finally, I prefer fiction! November 6, 2011 at 3:04pm Reply

  • Paeonia9: Post Office-Charles Bukowski
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter-Carson McCullers
    The Stranger-Albert Camus
    No Exit and Other Plays-Jean Paul Sartre
    Giovanni’s Room-James Baldwin
    Xiape-ee cummings
    Bleak House-Charles Dickens
    Cat’s Cradle-Kurt Vonnegut
    Catcher in the Rye-J.D. Salinger
    Enough Rope-Dorothy Parker
    Any Oscar Wilde
    Star Bellied Sneetches and Other Stories-Dr. Suess
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-Roald Dahl November 6, 2011 at 3:15pm Reply

  • chatchien: Haunts of the Black Masseur is all about swimming and bathing. There are swims in the Hellespont by Byron and the author and attempted swims on the Niagara Falls.

    It is a book about water and humans who try to master it or submerge themselves in it. It is a prose poem about the Mystery of Water. November 6, 2011 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Aparatchick: I’ll read anything by Margaret Atwood
    “Anna Karenina”
    “The House of Mirth”
    “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith
    Pat Barker’s “Regeneraton” trilogy
    “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
    “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller
    “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
    “The Crimson Petal and the White” by Michel Faber
    “The Pursuit of Love” by Nancy Mitford
    “Rumors of Peace” by Ella Leffland
    “A Natural History of the Senses” by Diane Ackerman

    There are references to perfume and the lovely smells of the English countryside in “I Capture the Castle” and “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs” has some amazing, lyrical writing about the scents of the places the author lived in Southern Africa. November 6, 2011 at 4:57pm Reply

  • martbasa: Hello. This is my first comment because, I love favourite lists…

    As for books- James Baldwin for depth of life.
    Anais Nin for passion of living, every aspect of the mind, and heart taken into account. No mean feat.
    Mary Oliver for making me feel connected to grander natures.
    Pablo Neruda for the intense, mysterious beauty of an immediate world.
    David Levithan for connecting the ages, of childhood, adolescent, and adult within me, in his touching and colourful writing.

    And, all those one’s I have kept dear and remain within…

    Thank you, for all your inspirations. Especially, the author of boisdejamin. November 6, 2011 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Martyn: My goodness, what a selection, what a feast!

    Well, I read for a living, and so these days my favourite book is not the one that is most meaningful, ripe with significance and glossy with literary polish. It is the one which currently brings me the most pleasure. Tonight it is Elizabeth David’s delightful “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine”. November 6, 2011 at 6:02pm Reply

  • maggiecat: Steinbeck’s East of Eden
    Anything by James Joyce
    All of the Harry Potter books
    The Lord of the Rings triology
    Anna Karenina
    All Sherlock Holmes stories
    The Chronicles of Narnia (actually anything by C.S. Lewis)
    All of T.S. Eliot’s poetry

    Eclectic, no? November 6, 2011 at 6:05pm Reply

  • lavinia: I can see in your picture Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk. What a great book. November 6, 2011 at 6:07pm Reply

  • Laura: Lavinia, you must check out Istanbul: The Collected Traveler series. Great historical background, soaring lyricism! November 6, 2011 at 6:58pm Reply

  • Laura: Martyn, how lucky you are! To get paid for doing something so pleasurable! I count things for a living, so it is painful… November 6, 2011 at 7:01pm Reply

  • Amer: If you like Maitr and Margarita which is my favorite novel of all time, then you might also appreciate Neverending Story by Ende, and Haruki Murakami’s or Yoko Ogawa’s short stories November 6, 2011 at 7:15pm Reply

  • k-amber: I have read N’esperez pas vous debarrasser des livres by Umberto Eco & Jean-Claude Carriere(play writer). This book is currently available in French and Japanese, (soon English??). I believe many book lovers would enjoy it very much.

    Kaori November 6, 2011 at 8:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: My reading list has expanded dramatically over the weekend, as I have been reading this thread! I ended up picking up a few of the titles mentioned here that were new to me from a secondhand book store, so I anticipate lots of pleasant hours spent reading. November 6, 2011 at 9:45pm Reply

  • Tulip: Lynne Cox’s Swimming to Antarctica is a good read about her life amd swims. A remarkable woman. November 6, 2011 at 10:06pm Reply

  • Charlotte H: I read a lot. For a bit of humor, pick up “Lamb” by Christopher Moore. It’s my all time favorite book by my all time favorite author. His other works are fun (funny) and light. I love that he borrows supporting characters from one novel and makes them the main character in later novels. Each book stands on it’s own so you don’t really have to read them in order.

    I also recoomend the following:
    The Passage by Justin Cronin (ebola + vampires + apocolypse!)
    The Fever Series by Karen Moning (modern Fae-seeing girl + enigmatic man seek a mysterious book to set the world right again. So well written and unpredictable – loved this series! Dark Fever is book 1.)
    The Help by Karen Stockett
    The Dreseden Files by Jim Butcher. Start with book 1, Storm Front. (Private Investigator and wizard solves mysterious cases in Chicago.)
    Pillars of the Earth & World Without End by Ken Follet. (13th century community builds a cathedral that grabs you from the first sentence.)
    Eragon by Christopher Paolini. (boy meets dragon! Even though this is in the teen section, it’s one of my favorites. The author wrote the first book at age 17 and it’s so rich and well done. There’s 3 more in the series. Book 4 should be published this month!) November 7, 2011 at 8:39am Reply

  • Fernando: This is difficult, as there are many things I like and what I read depends on my mood and degree of tiredness… Still, these are the most likely “favorites”:

    Anything by Gene Wolfe
    Dante’s Commedia
    Joseph Epstein’s essays (there are several collections)
    Dorothy Sayers’ essays
    Almost anything by David B. Hart and Robert Jenson
    Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books
    Leonhard Euler’s “Letters to a German Princess”

    Alas, many of those authors are either older or dead… What am I going to do then? Re-read, I guess.

    For perfume books, I have had a lot of fun with Luca and Tania, though I’m not too happy about the endless recycling. November 7, 2011 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Aparatchick: Tana French’s books are great, aren’t they? November 7, 2011 at 8:13pm Reply

  • mysterious_scent: Great topic!
    My all time favorite fictions:
    A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
    Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Persuasion by Jane Austen
    The Gods Themselves by Issac Asimov
    A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
    The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
    Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
    Perfume related – Patrick Suskind’s Perfume, story of a murderer November 9, 2011 at 5:28am Reply

  • CC: Not the end of book. You can buy it in English – ironically I read it on my iPad. November 10, 2011 at 3:38pm Reply

  • k-amber: It is the dawn of e-book here, finally the digital contents industry is ready and Kindle will come onto the market. November 10, 2011 at 8:46pm Reply

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