The two most popular book candles at Strand, Ms. Altshuler said, are Old Books, which smells like a used bookstore with a hint of cinnamon, and Lost in the Stacks (both $32.95), reminiscent of a fancy library that uses leather armchairs — the dreamy one complete with the library ladder reaching to the top shelves. Both are made by Forage Candle Company, which is based in Roan Mountain, Tenn.
“I think they use them in the same way people have used books and stories since the beginning of time: as a means to escape to another place and time,” said Lisa Smith, the owner of Forage Candle, adding that Old Books is the most popular book-related scent, of which they carry 25 at a time. “When it comes specifically to book-scented candles, what better place to escape to than within the pages of a treasured story?”
Ms. Smith began making her book-scented candles after leaving her job as a high school science teacher when she went blind a few years ago from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. Before losing her eyesight, books were Ms. Smith’s favorite escape from reality, and she would devour a novel daily.
“After losing my sight, reading became very difficult, but my love for literature was still very much alive,” Ms. Smith said. “Making literary-inspired candles became a way for me to keep that love alive.”
She harvests wild local botanicals, compounding them into unique fragrances to match the smells she associates with old books. Ms. Smith also has candles to match books, like Pride and Prejudice, $18 on Etsy (smells like roses drifting from the garden and ivy from the garden’s gates); and Gatsby, $22, (hints of juniper and wild florals that’s supposed to take you back to the jazz and gin era of the ’20s).
While some people prefer to be transported into an old library or bookstore when they read, others like to pair their candles with their books, like wine with food.