The books, should you care, were:
Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia, which I had been working on for over a year. Very dense and long, but also very interesting and informative, so I wanted to stick with it and not give up. Mission accomplished!
Evelina, Frances (Fanny) Burney. Extremely fun late-18th-c. social novel, by an author who inspired Jane Austen. You can definitely see the similarities.
Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent, Cathy Newman. Now this should be required reading for anyone who, like me, is a fragrance whore. It is basically an extended National Geographic article, with all the gorgeous photos and in-depth reporting you would expect from such a source; deceptively packaged like a coffee table book. Loved every bit of it. There's the remarkable economical aspect of fragrance: not only is it a multi-million-dollar industry, as you already knew; but if you had an entrepreneurial turn of mind, you might wish to purchase some fields in France, and grow jasmine or roses. A certain rare and much-coveted French rose essence, rose de mai absolue, sells for $3,650 a pound. And French jasmine absolute, which perfumers consider the finest jasmine essence in the world, sells for $12,000 a pound.
Of course, these days there are synthetic fragrance notes, which (connoisseurs claim) are not as good as the real thing, but getting better each year. And the synthetic side of the fragrance coin is just as fascinating as the natural side. Did you know there are people with the amazingly enviable job of going out into exotic locales (e.g., Costa Rican rainforests, deserts in Utah, jungles in the South Pacific), to search for interesting new scents? They get to sniff flowers, leaves, bark, insects, the air itself--and then when they find something that their perfumer-employers might like, they don't even have to rip up the plant and bring it home. They just whip out their gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer, get a sample of the fragrant air, and take it home for their chemists to analyze and recreate.
Dude. If I had it all to do over again, I might just have become a perfumer. I probably would have hated the organic chem classes, though. Ah well--I'm certainly happy to be a consumer.
Smell my wrist! Smell it!
P.S. Should you wish to follow my dictum and hear the new Doves album, it is being released on March 1, but in the meantime can be sampled at NME: http://www.nme.com/features/111390.htm