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.

9 comments:

+Q Perfume said...

happy 2009!
I loved the idea of perfuming books.
I have scented my business cards and my diary.

fragrant regards from Brazil,
Simone

ScentScelf said...

Lucy,

You are a couple cars ahead of me on the thoughtful train when it comes to scented bookmarks...actually thinking about scenting the books, and on top of that, matching scents to the books. Love it.

Meanwhile, I continue to use sprayed sample cards as bookmarks...but they just get haphazardly used, because there is never a dearth of reading in progress around here... :) ...and while it means there is not thought into the matchings, it does mean that when I find a completed book with the mark still in, I am transported back to both the reading experience and the more or less concomitant new scent experience.

Am about to go add a variety to my "scent pairings" list...my favorite being from the bar + perfume combinations...

Lucy said...

Hey +Q, so you are in Brazil, the land of fragrance...great idea to scent the cards and diaries. I keep my cards in my wallet so maybe the scent would migrate to my money...which would be a-OK...

Lucy said...

Dear S -- thank you for your kind words -- It would be an added dimension to find the scents left behind on books read by friends or even clinging to those found used on Amazon or the occasional garage sale...and now I see there is a scent called "Book Dust" on Etsy by an artisan perfume maker:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=15792065
though the choice of notes seems a bit different than mine would be. And of course now must try CB's In the Library asap.

barry goldman said...

can you put different scents in different scenes? like music to movies?

or..

can you write a scented narrative for a dog?

the possibilites are noseboggling!

pikake said...

I am loving the scented bookmark idea. I have a beautiful bookmark that I am using right now, with this lovely flower on it. But your idea takes it to a new level. So glad I ran across your blog tonight!

Lucy said...

Thanks pikake -- it's so fun to think of further very personal uses for perfume.

Lucy said...

Hey Barry,

I think we may project our own perfume preferences onto books or movies or other characters of psychic important to us but then why not?

pikake said...

It's like buying a perfume on a trip, and then you always think of that place when you wear that perfume. It would be like that with a book. Whenever you smell the perfume you have scented your book with, it would transport you to whatever feelings that book evoked from you. Or it would bring alive the characters instantly. So many places to go with this idea!