The Death/Scent Reading List

Over the last year I have had several requests for more information and deeper reads on subjects brought up on the blog. So after banging around my shelves a bit, here is the Death/Scent reading list. Some of them are staples of both olfactive and death literature, others are weird and wonderful deep cuts.  This list spans from books on Egyptian perfume practices, to the modern perfume industry, to why some smells repulse us, all the way to people that died during the Great Stink of London from the stench. As new interesting reads come my way I’ll be sure to update. Happy readings!

Books About Fragrance, Olfaction & Fragrance History

  1. A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer by Elisabeth de Feydeau
  2. Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris by Christopher Kemp
  3. Scents of Time: Perfume from Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century by Edwin T. Morris
  4. Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin, Tania Sanchez
  5. The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin
  6. Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell (Studies in Sensory History) by Jonathan Reinarz
  7. Making Magickal Incense & Ritual Perfumes by Keith Morgan
  8. Cosmetics & Perfumes in the Roman World by Susie Stewart
  9. The Essence of Beauty: A History of Perfume & Cosmetics by Aytoun Ellis
  10. Cult Perfumes: The World’s Most Exclusive Perfumeries by Tessa Williams
  11. Fragrance: The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel by Edwin T. Morris
  12. Oils and Perfumes of Ancient Egypt by Joann Fletcher
  13. Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom
  14. The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr
  15. The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession by Chandler Burr
  16. Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel
  17. Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume by Mandy Aftel
  18. What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life by Avery Gilbert
  19. Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent by Jean-Claude Ellena
  20. The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena
  21. Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume by Barbara Herman
  22. The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell by Rachel Herz
  23. That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion by Rachel Herz
  24. Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing, and Discovering, the Primal Sense by Bonnie Blodgett
  25. A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
  26. The Smell Culture Reader by Jim Drobnick
  27. Science of Olfaction by Michael J. Serby, Karen L. Chobor
  28. Scent and Chemistry: The Molecular World of Odors by Günther Ohloff, Wilhelm Pickenhagen, Philip Kraft
  29. The Great Stink of Paris and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle against Filth and Germs by David S. Barnes
  30. The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis by Stephen Halliday
  31. The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination by Alain Corbin

Books About Historical Death, Funeral Customs & Death Rituals

  1. Rejoice When You Die: The New Orleans Jazz Funerals by Leo Touchet
  2. Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson
  3. Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs by Paul Koudounaris
  4. The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play by James C. Whorton
  5. Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages
    by Bonnie Effros
  6. The Potent Dead: Ancestors, Saints, and Heroes in Contemporary Indonesia by Henri Chambert-Loir
  7. Ghosts and the Japanese: Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends by Michiko Iwasaka, Barre Toelken
  8. The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre, and Exchange with the Dead in Thailand by Alan Klima
  9. Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome by Donald G. Kyle
  10. International Handbook of Funeral Customs by Kodo Matsunami
  11. A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion by Mandy Kirkby, Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  12. Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual by Peter Metcalf

Books About Death Awareness, Dead Bodies & the Death Industry

  1. The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
  2. The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America by Ann Neumann
  3. The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford
  4. Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by William M. Bass, Jon Jefferson
  5. The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle
  6. Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab by Christine Montross
  7. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek
  8. Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America by Stephen R. Prothero
  9. Death and Bereavement Across Cultures by Colin Parkes
  10. Human Body Decomposition by Jarvis Hayman, Marc Oxenham
  11. Death and Denial: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Legacy of Ernest Becker by W.D. Wright
  12. The Hour of Our Death by Philippe Ariès
  13. After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver by Norman L. Cantor