Monday, October 1, 2012

Perfumes--the A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Remember the book The Emperor of Scent? It was about the scientist Luca Turin? Well, he and his current lady-friend (also an experienced perfume enthusiast and a writer herself) are the authors of this very large guide to over 1,800 perfumes.

The most entertaining parts of this book (to me) are the essays that come before the actual perfume reviews. They are titled things like "How to Connect Your Nose to Your Brain" and "Beauty and the Bees" and "Masculine Elegance and What It Smells Like" and are entertaining and informative. I really enjoyed those.

The reviews themselves are, of course, highly subjective (if the authors hate your favorite perfume, you will strongly agree with me here), if expert, but also quite entertaining. I like learning to recognize what type of ingredients are in each perfume and which category each is in. I appreciated the indications of the expense of each one. I liked the top ten lists in the back... I just liked the whole book. I love perfume--I find the whole (rather mysterious to me) world of perfumery and scent rather fascinating, so I particularly found this book entertaining. Highly recommended if you are interested in perfume at all. However, if you just want to know what they said about your favorites, I'll be happy to look them up for you! :)

Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams

Don't you wonder about the alchemy of a popular book? What makes a bestseller? Is it the publicity or the hype? Is it the content? The author? I wonder.

This book was both entertaining and informative. It took me awhile to finish because it's not exactly gripping, but it is fun to read and it is pretty straightforward. I liked the voice of the author, a writer who takes a journey to Machu Picchu in the footsteps of early explorer Hiram Bingham III. He was amusing and honest and as ignorant (so it seemed) about this part of Peru as his average reader probably is. So he's easy for the reader to engage with.

Of course, there aren't many answers to all the questions about the Mayans, so Mark Adams can't really help with all that. But he makes the trip feel pretty real to the reader and he introduces us to some modern day explorers and residents of the area around Machu Picchu who are eminently likeable. He has a gentle tone and a good way of explaining things. It was a fun book to read!

P.S. I wished for more pictures, though!

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

I read this with a book club. An author daughter of one of our members recommended it as her very favorite book. At first we were confused by her high recommendation--it seems like a sweet, rather ordinary book. But she schooled us in what to look for--the symbolism of the greyhounds, the relationship between the women, the quiet and inevitable changes that occurred in their lives and in the town around them... and then we liked it quite a lot.

There was nothing particularly outstanding about the book. It's a lovely story. I enjoyed the portrayal of a series of GOOD mother-daughter relationships. I liked the quiet strength of generations of women. The characters were all very likeable.

In this story you'll meet a teenager and her mother, a grandmother, a ghost and you'll hear the stories of all of them. It's a lovely little book that will give quiet satisfaction.

Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James

Well golly. Somehow I kept expecting something really unusual or mysterious or exciting to happen. But it never did.

This was indeed a mystery but it was rather understated. Not in the crisp, pungent P.D. James style that her readers love. In fact, it felt a little like a sure-fire cash-in on the author's good name AND the current mania for all things Jane Austen. I didn't think it deserved all the hype it has received.

However, I will be charitable and say that the book was rather entertaining and none of Jane Austen's characters were messed with too much--all were recognizable even if some were worse or better than they were when Jane left them.

It was a quietly pleasant book. Read it if you like Jane Austen. If you're a hard-core P.D. James fan and not into Austen, you can safely skip this one.

A Damsel in Distress by PG Wodehouse

Okay, I think pretty much anything by PG Wodehouse is amusing. This book was no different. And you can get it for free on your electronic reader, btw.

Here's the clever little teaser from the back of the edition of the book I have: "In a sunny story which involves chorus-girls, the theatre and a ball at the castle during a two-week house-party, Wodehouse deftly unties all the knots which he had so cleverly tied around his characters in the first place."
This description makes me laugh because the chorus-girls, the theatre, the ball and the house-party are but incidents in the larger story of an American, George Bevan, pursuing an heiress, Lady Maude. Maude, however, is in love with a Welshman and her aunt and father are determined to marry her off to her step-brother. Can George possibly prevail?

PG Wodehouse is classically witty and his characters are pithily drawn. I enjoyed this book a lot.

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Okay, this is a pretty amazing book. It reminds me of Eating Awareness Training, only expanded and explained and backed up by research studies and years of clinical experience by its two authors.

Tribole and Resch outline 10 principles of Intuitive Eating that, if followed, promise to free a person of all his/her harmful ideas about food, diet, body-image...big promises!

Intuitive Eating is easy to read and well organized. It has a good balance of information, statistics and tales from the clinic. It is not a diet or a menu plan or even a guide to healthy food. It's a set of principles designed to help a reader depart from the manic diet/body culture that pervades our society.

Of course, not all good ideas can be applied generally, but I loved the book and highly recommend it.