January 3, 2009
Perfuming the Pages of Books
I am a reader. Fiction, history, memoirs, biography, history, art history, poetry, and of course books about perfume and nature. I have been accused of living in a world of books. It is the closest thing I know of to time travel. I wish there were 72 hours in the day and I could spend half of them reading. It occurs to me to start perfuming my books, or perfuming the books I give as presents, or perfuming their bookmarks. I am sure some people would howl at this idea, especially those who hate the scent strips in magazines, but it is unlikely those particular people will be opening my books or any books from me any time soon.
There are three kinds of fragrances that immediately come to my mind for this use. First, anything with aoud or sandalwood, or some other wood note such as cedar; second, wholesome organic/natural mood enhancing types such Ineke's Balmy Days and Sundays, or Red Flower's Guaiac or Roxana's oak leaf tincture, or certain CB Water perfumes such as Just Breathe, or In the Summer Kitchen, or other herbal, leafy green or tea scents; and third, classic home fragrances such as L'Occitane or Jo Malone's, especially the citrusy or pine-y ones. I also like single note essences and absolutes such as black spruce or galbanum, or even vanilla for this purpose. One drop or two on the opened cover near the spine -- on the wrist of the book, so to speak.
On a much lighter side than most perfumes or their close relatives, Le Cherchi Midi's line of home fragrances, based on color and type can be used as room or linen or personal fragrances and would be perfect for books. They can also be used on clothing or the lining of a handbag or leather gloves. They have a clean and sheer nature. None are peculiar or strange in any way so it is highly unlikely they would start to cloy or get on one's nerves over time. Their essential light pleasantness is subtly uplifting, especially during these long indoor-spent cold months. These fragrances are numbered rather than named, and identified with a color corresponding to the type. For example green equals a green fragrance, violet equals an oriental type, black for leather, etc. (The color to fragrance connection is beginning to be examined more frequently in a number of recent releases, I see). White 01 is their ocean/beach signature fragrance with marine air and summer herbal notes. Green o5 is my favorite because of its clear cut-grass air. Violet 09 is a brandy amber which could be useful for certain British mystery and suspense stories. Orange 14 is a light rose and orange flower, very sheer, good for the nineteenth century French chapters that describe the toilette of Madame Bovary or the details of Colette's mother's home in Sido. Black 20 is leather and cedar, perfect for Russian novels and short stories by Turgenev or Chekov, and also Black CT01, vetiver crossed with fir and cedar. 21 Red is a spicey winter holiday scent, cardamon and berries, good for scenting gift wrapped boxes for sweaters and scarves.
There are always the perfumes of coffee and tobacco and chocolate, the classic scents to accompany the experience of reading...
Image above from the On Demand Books site, something new coming which sounds exciting. They will be able to print books to order, single copy, of any book, out of print or never published, current or backlist.