Coming to My Senses by Alyssa Harad

At thirty-six—earnest, bookish, terminally shopping averse—Alyssa Harad thinks she knows herself. Then one day she stumbles on a perfume review blog. A trip to the mall and several dozen perfume samples later, she is happily obsessed with the seductive underworld of scent and the brilliant, quirky people she meets there. If only she could put off planning her wedding a little longer. . . .

So begins a life-changing journey that takes us from a private perfume museum in Austin, Texas, to the glamorous fragrance showrooms of New York City, to a homecoming in Boise, Idaho, with the women who watched her grow up. Candid, elegant, full of lush description and humor and peopled with marvelous characters, this intimate memoir celebrates the many ways there are to come to our senses.

“Bursting with sensuous delights . . . Throughout the book, Harad manages to pull off word sorcery, layering one scented note of description atop another, until the reader is afloat in a sea of sensations ranging from louche to pristine.

Dallas News

“Explores the personal and the political of eau de parfum, and provides much food for thought about out own arbitrary lines in the sand vis-à-vis feminism and femininity. Call it scent and sensibility—and a sweet read to boot.”

—The Austin Chronicle

“By turns witty, sensuous and poignant…a book that demands to be savored and shared. And I challenge anyone to read this without ransacking the dark corners of their closets and cosmetics bags for a scent to put on, and then another and then another.”

—Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life

“Not since Virginia Woolf argues on behald of feathered hats in 1920 has an aspect of feminine culture had such a gorgeously erudite—and feminist—champion. Alyssa Harad’s beautiful memoir performs the delicate, generous work of loving both perfume and the women who wear it.”

—Ellis Avery, author of of The Last Nude

“Woodsy and seductive, with a hint of spice, Coming to My Senses offers a luscious immersion in the world of perfume obsession. But what makes this memoir so appealing are its deeper notes, the ones that linger on after reading: the story of how a no-nonsense, underemployed English Ph.D., who usually dresses like ‘an unmade bed,’ discovers the pleasures of femininity and her own senses through an affair with fragrance.”

—BookPage (top pick)