I hope that the publisher's imprint 'Le Snob' won't put people off buying, because this little book takes an egalitarian approach to perfumery, not a superior one. It's helpful, clearly and beautifully written, and open about things which perfume manufacturers and marketers sometimes are not.
Of course, some of the scents which Dariush Alavi describes are expensive, but he takes the opposite of a snobbish attitude to them. The only vague snobbishness is the book's desire to stop people wasting good money on dreadful scents. Which is just plain good sense.
He takes a 111 perfumes (if I've counted correctly) and explains why they are worth trying, and where they fit into the circle of scents (see page 23). You don't get a more accessible brand than 4711, but it has earned a place in the guide because they make a great cologne.
The author has chosen perfumes he thinks are wonderful, so you don't get the scathing assassinations of inferior scents which Luca Turin gives you. And he's had to edit to fit the space available, so I'm sure there are some more he'd love to put in there but hasn't been able to.
But he gives you a good place to start if you're thinking of exploring some new fragrances and don't want to be overpowered by single minded salespeople.
Some of perfumery's mysteries are unveiled here, gently, without upsetting the major perfume houses. The Fundamentals section is an essential read. The reviews are short and helpful. Dariush Alavi writes an influential perfume blog, Persolaise, and there his reviews are more literary, worldly, entertaining and - well - long.
Bying perfume for a present can be a bit hit and miss. Get this instead and you really can't go wrong.