Monday, July 23, 2012

Coming To My Senses by Alyssa Harad

When I  heard about the new book Coming To My Senses: A Story of Perfume , Pleasure and an Unlikely Bride by Alyssa Harad, a memoir about perfume, I was pretty sure I would like it. Simply because  I love it's topic.  What I found was even better. This is a book that engages you from the first page. It may be a personal story but you do not need to know this person to feel drawn into her story. It's well written and you find yourself waiting and wanting to get to the next part of the book.

I can relate to some of her story. While she discovered fragrance later in life, I was always into it. As a tween/early teen I already had several different scents and as I went into further into my teens I discovered high end ( department store) perfumes and added more to my collection each year. By 18 I probably had between 8-10 fragrances, which is a lot for that age and at that time.  But what I share with Ms. Harad is the world that the internet opened up to me.  Once I discovered sites like MUA, and then Sniffapalooza and  blogs like Now Smell This, I went way further down the very fun rabbit hole. I suddenly was immersed in all fragrance including hard to find , niche and artisan.  Yes, those sites were certainly enablers, but it's been so much fun. Ultimately it led to me starting this blog of my own.

Harad discusses her journey into fragrance via so many of my favorite, old friend sites and mentions by name some people I know.  It was amazing to her what was out there perfume-wise  and in her case it was the beginning of her education and induction into the  pastime, passion, call it what you will.  When she discusses her first Sniffapalooza event, I wonder if I was there. I think I was, although I don't recall ever meeting her. We certainly could have brushed past each other at some point in the very big crowd  though.

And in reading her story at the beginning, I feel kind of sad for her . Sad that she somehow felt being a feminist meant distance from things like perfume. I am a feminist and think I was born that way. I also love makeup, fashion and fragrance and have never felt them mutually exclusive. It's also sad that she when she discovered perfume so many people looked at her like she was nuts when she expressed her new hobby.  Although any perfumista has been there at least a few times.  I am happy that she found the forums that we all know and love.  She tells of their welcome to her and any newcomer which is totally true . Perfume people love company. We love to talk  about it, compare thoughts. So there is a happy ending to her reconciling her feelings on fragrance. She also happens to come up with the best bridal shower idea EVER.

It's more than simply a discovery of perfume though.  She is also planning a wedding and trying hard to do it her way. No easy task. And there is self discovery along the way. She finds more about herself and her world, a world populated with some  very interesting and delightful sounding characters that we meet throughout the story.

If you love fragrance, and you love reading about fragrance then you will love this story. It will resonate as it did with me. Yes, I have some up close and personal experience with some of the people and places  , but I think it would have been enjoyable even I hadn't.

You can find Coming To My Senses anywhere books are sold . Hardcover edition is $ 25.95

For more , check out


chatchien said...

WHere do women get these Weird ideas of Feminism? Feminism Frees not Constricts!

Feminism is a Good Supportive Bra not a whale-boned corset.

I love perfume too. My current favorite is Knowing by Estée Lauder, but I'm wearing Fracas by Robert Piguet today?

What do you have on?

Beauty Alchemist said...

Thanks for commenting on this, Chatchien. Are you going to pick up the book? It really is a fun read.

I ADORE Fracas. So glad to hear of another fan. It's been so hot, so I lean towards citrus even more in the heat. Today's scent is Lancome O'D'Azur-woods and citrus.

chatchien said...

I haven't sniffed this fragrance before. I'll have to go by the Lancôme counter and try a tester.

I can't say that I'm mad about weddings and wedding planning, although for some reason I will watch episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. THere is something about tacky and ugly wedding dresses and the people who buy and sell them that fascinates me. It is my TV Junk Watching.

I have put in a request at the library for a copy of the book.

Beauty Alchemist said...

CC- it's not all about weddings. As the title says " An Unlikely Bride" so she trys to avoid all that planning as well. It's part of the story but not all the story.