Monday, September 24, 2012

Coming to My Senses, by Alyssa Harad. Viking 2012

“Coming to My Senses” is a memoir of a short period of author Harad’s life, covering the time between her discovery of perfume blogs and shortly after her wedding. It is all about how perfume became not just an interest, but a passion, and how it changed the way she thought about herself.

Harad was a scholarly, feminist free lance writer who hated shopping and had no interest in feminine frills. Then she clicked by accident into some perfume blogs and got hooked on the descriptions of scent- what the perfumes contained, how they made the wearers feel. This struck a chord in her, and she started to find out more about perfume, and started using it. For a long time she kept her interest to herself, not wanting to be made fun of by serious minded people. But as she started bringing the subject up, she was amazed to discover that it was a love of many people- including those serious minded ones.

But it wasn’t just an interest or hobby. Wearing perfume started to change how she felt about herself. An elegant perfume made her want to change out of her boring work-at-home clothes and into something prettier. She started going to a gym, and feeling more in touch with her body, more balanced. Ultimately, it made her decide, after living for years with someone, that she wanted a girly wedding.

The book is a memoir, not a treatise on perfumes. It’s all about her relationship with the scents and with herself, not about the perfumes themselves, although she does write about a few of the perfumes and perfume components- it would be hard to write about perfume without giving some history. One thing that really disappointed me was that the author didn’t give the names of many of the perfumes she talks about. It would be fun for a reader to sniff perfumes and compare their reaction to what her’s was. And I really want to know what is the name of the one that is honey based and makes her husband follow her around the house?

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