The art and science of the world of scent.



Coming to My Senses

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.



Floating Gold

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."



The Little Book of Perfumes

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.



The Emperor of Scent

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.



The Scent of Desire

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.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.