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Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.


I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,

Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.

time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.

How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.

Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

Wafting onto the pages of a text book near you

Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell - Jonathan Reinarz

netgalley arc


“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Scrape out the humor of a Roach book, and you still get something that is approachable. This isn't one of those books. It reads more like a reference book. This isn't a terrible thing, and anyone in the mood for a densely packed explosion of all things focused on smell will be quite comfortable with this read and ultimately thoroughly satisfied.

According to the author, wearing perfume on clothes or objects was initially used as a way of decreasing the stench of disease. While perfume was an obvious strategy to mask the smell of rotten flesh and all things delicious, it was also thought to alter 'tainted air', the presumed source of diseases such as the plague.

The majority of people living in the western hemisphere no longer wear cologne to cover up the stench of improper hygiene, nor to conceal the stench of disease, but to extenuate parts of their personality. There is no bigger litmus test of a person's character than what he/she willfully decides to smell like. As the author points out, fragrance is a language in and of itself. Take my favorite fragrance, Mechant Loup…

"A masculine fragrance, as deep as the forest, with a hazelnut core... To dress city-dwellers with woody notes. Bertrand Duchaufour’s abstract portrait of the hazelnut tree. Méchant Loup (Big Bad Wolf) is alive with forest scents: dry leaves, smoke and woods. But in the air is a whiff of fairytales, bittersweet liquorice and an addictive praline note that softens our view of Mr Wolf. Is he just a rogueish charmer or the shadow behind the trees? Now, who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

totally awesome dude, right? This is a typical narrative of a fragrance, and the author mentions that we often connect smells to familiar scents, and the memories associated with those smells. Food is often included as a point of comparison.

Fragrances are a means of expressing who we are, who we want to be perceived as, our social class, and in many instances our eagerness for sexual encounters—unless of course you chose to wear camphor, a scent once spritzed to treat painful erections. This is why I have such a terrible time with the olfactory overload of the CK and Giorgio Armani—not because of Camphor, though I think the smell has the same effect—fragrance houses; I know I just won't like you.  While this pure hatred for these two mainstream houses may be mine along (doubtful), the author does point to memory driven reactions to scents, and how those reactions can manipulate the ways we experience people, as well as situations.
Smells can also demonstrate social standing. While modern houses are separated into mainstream and niche, and therefore may lend a hand in deciphering a person's economic status, in the past it had a deeper meaning connected to self-identity. The early 1900s brought with it a swarm of immigration. While people of various cultures burst onto the streets of large urban cities, these same individual drifted further and further away from a key facet of their former selves, smell. Culturally specific ways of cooking were often casualties of immigration and with them smells associated with traditional meals. There is evidence that these same smells were sometimes easily identifiable on immigrants and were used as stereotypes to marginalize the immigrant population, specifically Jews.

This book will saturate the reader in a comprehensive study of the scarcely researched area of smell.  The book takes us on a long stretch from ancient times to the modern era. The author deftly explores the cultural context of certain smells, as well as how periods of time shift medical and cosmetic trends. One example is the shift of a popular 1500s medical treatment used to treat constipation and other ailments to that of a fragrance splashed on the wrists of royalty. Eau de Cologne was said to have traveled along with Henry II's bride and was first named Eau de La Reine. It then swung up to Cologne and was re-branded Eau de Cologne…. and boom, a hugely successful luxury trade was created, until, you know France slapped on thatluxury tax.

The author does an wonderful job of helping the reader understand the historical milestones of fragrances. He explores, in quite a lot of detail, the source of the particular fragrance and its utility. Lets take lavender. This easily identifiable scent has solidified a foundation most notably in aromatherapy. Gattefosse is widely considered the father of aromatherapy. His initial instinct to consider lavender as a method to relieve pain developed into more than 50 years of studies focusing on the medical relevance of lavender.

While the bulk of this book is heavy and deeply embedded in scholarly research, it does offer something worthwhile for simply curious folks. However, I would be remiss not to recommend, unless you are writing a paper or very preoccupied with the subject of fragrances, that you order a copy via your local library. It is a big boy, with a girth that is going to require an intellectual focus, a strained back, too much coffee, and the florescent lights of a college library. Ultimately, while it is a great offering, this casual reader with a casual interest in fragrances will get his olfactory experience at the local Sephora.