Spring and Summer Reading

Reading books in the shadow of flowering trees; what a beautiful moment of life! I have been inspired by many books on perfumery since I started Scent & Flavor and would like to share with you this short review. I hope that some of these books will find a space on your bookshelf or your Kindle library one day, after having enjoyed them in a sunny Nature, or in the comfort of your living room.

Diary of a Nose – Jean-Claude Ellena, published in 2012.

DIARY OF A NOSE – Jean-Claude Ellena

Jean-Claude Ellena is a star perfumer, native of Grasse, where he started his career as an apprentice at the legendary fragrance house of Chiris. In 1968, he became the first student to enroll in the newly created perfumery school of Givaudan. He then worked as a perfumer for Givaudan for many years. Jean-Claude is one of the founding members of the Osmothèque, the world’s only fragrance archive, in Versailles near Paris. Since 2004, he has been the exclusive master-perfumer of the house of Hermès for which he created a lot of landmark fragrances.

In his Diary of a Nose, Jean-Claude shares with us one year of his life, in the form of notes taken during his travels or simply when touched by inspiring thoughts. Anecdotes and secrets about his compositions are revealed, i.e  “there has never been any tea in my Eau Parfumée Au Thé Vert (Bulgari)“. He also writes:  “Although perfumers are often compared with musical composers, I have always felt like a writer of smells.”  We learn a lot about the relationship of a perfumer with the fashion houses, marketers and journalists, and producers of raw materials. I particularly appreciated receiving his insights about the use of aroma chemicals and essential oils,  in typical accords. I was fascinated by his obsession to realize some difficult notes, trial after trial.  The book concludes with a chapter called “A summary of smells” where JCE tells us which fragrance ingredients can be used to create interesting notes. This good book gives good tips for fragrance enthusiasts and perfumer-apprentices like some of us.


The English gentleman Roja Dove (born Roger Dove) has been in perfumery business since 1981 when he joined the house of Guerlain for which he worked for nearly twenty years before setting up his own fragrance company. Roja is not only a great perfumer but an expert and historian, as well as a journalist and lecturer of this noble art. He can recognize more than eight-hundred fragrances when blindfolded. That is amazing!

The Sense of Smell is a beautiful large format and richly illustrated edition. Roja presents us here with the methods of extraction of raw materials, the classification of fragrances and the typical composition of perfume. Following chapters explain the history of perfumery with all great landmark fragrances of each period, from the late nineteenth century until the first decade of our millennium. Each perfume is analyzed for his historical background, components, and notes. Roja finally gives us his review of the most famous perfume houses and the illustrious names of this art and industry, without forgetting the bottle makers.

This book is an excellent guide to learning about perfumery. You can keep it very visible on your bookshelf as well; it will for sure raise the interest of your visitors.

 Breaking Into & Succeeding as a FRAGRANCE MAKER

This is a free publication from www.StyleCareer.com which I actually found useful and exciting for people who want to learn more about the fragrance industry and how to start your career as a perfumer.

The book begins with an introduction to fragrance industry, a brief history of perfumes making, then delves into techniques in fragrance making and gives a lot of tips on how to work for this industry, whether as a perfumer, or perfume shop owner, etc.. The author also gives you some precious links to resources and associations that can help you on this exciting path.

I got this book a couple of months on Amazon for my kindle, but it seems difficult to get it there now. You may try to download it on the following link (click here).

Understanding Fragrance Chemistry – Charles Sell

Perfumes molecules are compounds of carbon and hence come under the general heading of organic chemistry. For casual fragrances lovers, it is surely not necessary to study such intimidating science, especially if we still carry the scars of our chemistry classes at school. For the ones of you interested in making fragrances, then I truly recommend it to you.

This book is frankly one of the very best I have ever read about organic chemistry since it is totally focused on perfumery. Charles Sell’s book is easy to read, well illustrated with examples and does not waste time in details which would be irrelevant for the perfumer.

As most perfumes today are made of aroma chemicals, from natural or synthetic sources, it is more than ever important to know the fundamentals of chemistry, and to understand the blending of these compounds and their transformation in different cosmetic medias. This book has transformed my approach to perfumery and I feel now much more comfortable in talking about and using these mysterious substances created or converted in labs.

Perfume – Patrick Süskind

For the few of you who did not yet read Perfume from Patrick Süskind or watched the movie after it, I can only highly recommend it to you. Perfume is a novel and its captivating intrigue is a pure fiction, fortunately, but the level of details about perfume-making in these early ages is just stunning and makes this book the ultimate novel for all fragrance lovers. I read it already twice and watched the movie also and I think I will still enjoy them for many years to come.

That’s all my friends, I hope this post gave you some ideas for your Spring and Summer reading, in a place you love, surrounded by your family and great people. Life is beautiful that way! Please send me your comments and suggestions of nice books and articles on perfumes and perfume making, we can share it together in a later edition.

Have a great week.



About Laurent 70 Articles
Born in Switzerland but lived half of my life in fragrant Asia, I want to share my passion for scents and flavors

Leave a Reply