Books take their readers on a journey. Whether you step into a romantic world of flowers and confessions of love; a long adventure full of mythical creatures and sword fights; or a historical retelling of real events, avid readers often enjoy the escape from reality that novels provide.
Our favorite books can have a huge impact on our daily lives — including our clothes, speech, thoughts and feelings; even our scent! The same way our favorite books define us, so do the scents we choose to wear.
Read on for our guide to which scents work best for classic works of literature.
For All Book Lovers
Book lovers are often most infatuated with the intoxicating smell of an old book. An ode to that fragrant love, many perfumers have tried to recreate that scent or a similarly nostalgic and relaxing one by paying homage to the joys of old libraries and novels.
1. Paper Passion by Steidl
Paper Passion is meant to smell like the fresh, papery excitement of opening a book for the first time. Finding a delicate balance between the paper and ink smell of a book and traditional perfume elements, the scent is meant to evolve overtime just like a novel does. As an added bonus for book lovers, the perfume comes packaged in an actual book with a cut-out compartment that holds the bottle.
Top notes: Amber, butter
Middle notes: Osmanthus, ozone
Base notes: Paper
2. Bibliothèque by BYREDO
Translating to “library,” this scent aims to capture the atmosphere of a library suspended in time, complete with leather-bound books and old wood shelves. Combining sweet, floral elements with leather and patchouli, this fragrance aims to create a whimsical world reminiscent of a library that any book lover could get lost in.
Top notes: Peach, plum
Heart notes: Peony, violet
Base notes: Leather, patchouli, vanilla
3. Dead Writers by Immortal Perfumes
This scent aims to recreate the cozy, relaxing feeling of curling up with your favorite book. Combining smoky elements with musky and floral notes, the scent is reminiscent of an old library and the many authors housed on the shelves.
Top notes: Black tea, vetiver, clove
Heart notes: Musk, vanilla
Base notes: Heliotrope, tobacco
For the Romantic Reader
Romantic novels have the power to fill our hearts and to break them. Often filled with love affairs, breathtaking moments and lots of flowers, these novels pair best with a floral perfume that complements the lively nature of the books.
4. “La Mare au Diable” — George by Jardins d’Ecrivains
Author: George Sand
Characteristics: Romantic, rustic
Inspired by the life of the prolific writer Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin — known by her pen name George Sand — this scent embodies the romance and simplicity that made Sand so popular. This smoky, enchanting scent is perfect for anyone who wants to smell inviting, serene and complex.
Top notes: Neroli, bergamot
Middle notes: Heliotrope, coffee, tobacco
Base notes: White musk, balsam of Peru, myrrh
5. “The Great Gatsby” — Daisy by Marc Jacobs
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Characteristics: Longing, bold
The classic tale of a reclusive millionaire in love with a debutante, many consider “The Great Gatsby” to be one of the greatest novels ever written. Pair this classic novel with a similarly classic scent that also pays homage to the novel’s leading lady, Daisy Buchanan. Marc Jacobs Daisy is a refreshing, cheerful scent perfect for the summer and reminiscent of the Roaring 20s.
Top notes: Strawberry
Middle notes: Violet leaves
Base notes: Jasmine
6. “A Room With a View” — M4 A Room With a View by CB I Hate Perfume
Author: E.M. Forster
Characteristics: Witty, revealing
Inspired by a passage from the 1908 novel “A Room With a View,” this scent aims to invoke the beauty of nature and the sweet scent of violets. Combining the floral scent of violets with earthy notes of fennel and grass, this fragrance captures the sunny feeling of a spring day in Florence, where part of the novel takes place.
Top notes: Grass, fennel
Middle notes: Violets
Base notes: Patchouli
For the Sci-Fi Fan
Science fiction imagines exaggerated versions of reality in which injustices are highlighted through metaphor. Fans of this genre examine society through this lens to learn more about themselves and the world around them. Pair a science fiction novel with a thoughtful, bold scent that captures the attention of those around you.
7. “Dune” — Cinnabar by Estee Lauder
Author: Frank Herbert
Characteristics: Epic, spicy
“Dune” centers around the harvesting of a drug that extends life and expands mental capacity, referred to colloquially as “the spice.” Pursuit of the drug and the planet that it is harvested on is, therefore, a dangerous and important post. Celebrate the spice by pairing this sci-fi epic with a spicy fragrance. Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar is an Oriental, intoxicating fragrance that is as mysterious and spicy as the novel.
Top notes: Jasmine, orange flower, tangerine
Middle notes: Clove, muguet, lily
Base notes: Patchouli, olibanum, sandalwood
8. “The War of the Worlds” — Alien by Thierry Mugler
Author: H.G. Wells
Characteristics: Mysterious, complex
Written between 1895 and 1897, “The War of the Worlds” was one of the first novels to illustrate the conflict between humans and extraterrestrials, making it a classic work of science fiction that is referenced in many works of modern literature. Pay homage to this novel that inspired countless alien invasion stories by pairing it with an interstellar scent—Alien by Thierry Mugler is a floral, woody scent that is just as mysterious as what lurks in the space beyond Earth.
Top notes: Sambac jasmine
Middle notes: Cashmeran wood
Base notes: Ambergris
9. “Kindred” — Shalimar by Guerlain
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Characteristics: Compelling, Just
This novel follows a young Black writer, Dana, as she travels in time from her Los Angeles home in the 1970s and a pre-Civil War plantation in Maryland. Exploring power, gender and race, this groundbreaking novel pushed the boundaries of what science fiction means. Celebrate this timeless novel with a similarly classic scent that is also still relevant today. Shalimar is a classic scent that celebrates love and perseverance.
Top notes: Bergamot
Middle notes: Iris, jasmine, rose
Base notes: Vanilla, tonka bean
For the Fantasy Enthusiast
Fantasy novels challenge our ideas of what a world can look and be like. By calling on whimsical elements combined with elements of magic, adventure and love, fantasy novels transport us to other realms where anything is possible. Pair these novels with whimsical and earthy scents.
10. Greek Mythology — Eau De Minthé Eau De Parfum by Diptyque
Characteristics: Bold, complex
Drawing from the fantastical, adventurous elements of Greek Mythology, this fragrance combines floral and earthy notes to create a scent that is both natural and whimsical. By combining lively herbal and floral notes with patchouli to create depth, Diptyque aimed to capture the complexity and unexpectedness of mythology.
Top notes: Mint
Middle notes: Geranium
Base notes: Patchouli
11. “The Lord of the Rings” — Jo Malone Earl Gray & Cucumber
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Characteristics: Whimsical, daring
This epic fantasy series deserves a similarly epic perfume that celebrates the earthy and woodsy elements that exist both on Earth and Middle Earth, where the “Lord of the Rings” series takes place. With notes of Earl Gray and cucumber, Jo Malone delivers a scent that celebrates an English tea while also communicating the earthy, woodsy scents of a forest. Perfect for a journey from the Shire to Mordor.
Top notes: Sea salt
Middle notes: Birch leaf
Base notes: Silver vetiver
12. “Earthsea” — Aqua Celestia by Maison Francis Kurkdijan
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Characteristics: Balanced, serene
The world of Earthsea is composed of islands and seas, where a vast array of islands is surrounded by an uncharted ocean. To complement the serenity of looking at the horizon where ocean meets sky, pair this classic series with an ocean-inspired scent. Aqua Celestia pays homage to the joyful nature of the ocean by combining aquatic, fresh elements with juicy notes.
Top notes: Lime, black currant, neroli, mint
Middle notes: Mimosa, rose
Base notes: White musk
For the Memoirist
Memoirs invite readers to examine the world around them from someone else’s shoes, and tell stories of everyday happenings that shape our history and feelings. Pair your favorite memoir with a scent that also celebrates life, love and adventure.
13. “She Came to Stay” — She Came to Stay by Timothy Han/Edition
Author: Simone de Beauvoir
Characteristics: Independent, sensual
A semi-autobiographical novel regarding author Simone de Beauvoir’s relationship with Jean Paul Sartre, “She Came to Stay” celebrates freedom, sensuality and romance. Created as an ode to the classic novel, this scent also highlights free thinking and independence by putting a unique spin on traditional perfume notes.
Top notes: Geranium, basil, lemon
Middle notes: Indonesian clove, nutmeg
Base notes: Patchouli, vetiver, labdanum, oakmoss, cedarwood
14. “Into the Wild” — Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris
Author: Jon Krakauer
Characteristics: Daring, adventurous
Following the trail of Christopher McCandless, who hiked across North America and into the Alskan wilderness, “Into the Wild” is a tale of adventure and exploration. To celebrate the serenity and danger of the outdoors, pair this classic memoir with an outdoorsy and woodsy scent. Feuilles de Tabac is a woodsy scent that includes notes of tobacco and berries, adding a sweetness to the scent of the outdoors
Top notes: Bergamot, sage, pine needle
Middle notes: Cascarilla oil, pimento berries
Base notes: Patchouli, tonka bean, tobacco leaf
15. “Friday Night Lights” — Pure Grace Desert Summer by Philosophy
Author: H.G. Bissinger
Characteristics: Southern, enduring
Both the novel and movie versions of “Friday Night Lights” tell the story not only of a Texan high school football team, but also of the state itself. Acting as a critique and love letter to the town of Odessa, Texas, and the state of Texas as a whole, this novel showed what devotion and Southern hospitality mean. Pair “Friday Night Lights” with a perfume that celebrates the desert by taking inspiration from the Saguaro cactus.
Top notes: Ozone, freesia
Middle notes: Cactus flower, jasmine
Base notes: Clay, musk, white wood
Check out our infographic for the ultimate pairing guide for book lovers and fragrances:
The next time you enjoy your favorite novel, or start a new one, think about what scent comes to mind. Whether a character walking through a field of flowers invokes a floral scent or a description of a journey through the forest makes you long for something woodsy, FragranceX can help you pick the perfect perfume.