There are a lot of useful, and entertaining, books about incense.  One of my favorites is The Complete Incense Book.  Published in 1998, this was one of the first additions to my personal incense library.  It is organized geographically and takes the reader on a tour of incense from around the world.  As the author moves through each region, she discusses the history of incense, as well as the ingredients that originate from that area.  She offers an assortment of incense recipes for each region as well.  While the recipes are all for “loose” incense, they are varied and quite interesting.

Unlike the majority of incense books (written in English), The Complete Incense Book includes wonderful illustrations.  Both photographs and drawings are included and they lend a deeper understanding to the reader.  While many books will give you the Latin names of the plants that provide incense ingredients, seeing photos of the plants in their natural environment conveys a much more powerful impact than words on a page.  There is also a beautiful 2-page photo for each region showing the ingredients discussed in that chapter.  That can provide a useful tool when shopping for an ingredient you’ve never used before.

I also really enjoy the writing style of this book.  While not all of the history in this book is in line with modern historic research, the book still provides a fun and useful overview of many different parts of the world.  The friendly, approachable writing style makes reading this book fun as well as informative.  The author guides the reader with a conversational style that seems more like talking with friend rather than being lectured by an author.

Finally, this is the only “oversized” incense book I’ve read.  The large pages result in easier to read text and really bring out the beauty of the photos and other illustrations.  The large size makes the book a little less transportable and house, but I think the presentation is worth the sacrifice.  I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the history or use of incense from around the Earth.