Beauty and the Brain: 100,000 Years of Beauty
100,000 Years of Beauty ($295.00, currently listed at $239) is a set of five books designed to be an extremely comprehensive study of the evolution and history of beauty. 100,000 Years of Beauty was commissioned by the L’Oreal Corporate Foundation (to celebrate their 100th anniversary!), but it is a wonderful set of books to go through if you’re a knowledge-hungry beauty addict.
100,000 Years of Beauty is the culmination of a study which identifies many approaches to beauty in all civilizations throughout the ages, including a look into the future. A major editorial endeavor, uniting contributions from 300 writers of 35 different nationalities and 20 different disciplines, 100,000 Years of Beauty brings original insights into the quest for beauty. At the heart of the book is a central theme that throughout all civilizations the quest for beauty is universal. Through this initiative, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation hopes to share knowledge and encourage the emergence of new perspectives about beauty.
The books come in a “pyramid” with each book sized differently (the first being the smallest, the fifth being the largest) and stacked inside the book “holder.” The first book is titled “Prehistory” and goes through the early history of beauty in various societies. The second book is titled “Antiquity,” which takes a look at the changes that have changed the “pursuit of beauyt.” The third book is titled “Classical Age” and goes through beauty in both the medieval and early modern periods. The fourth book is titled “Globalization” and explores beauty through the modern era. The fifth book is titled “The Future,” and it looks at how the digital age and technology-driven period will change the way we look at beauty going forward.
One of the details I really liked about the set is that there are a variety of topics and voices. You’re not reading just one perspective, but hundreds; you get to read so many different authors with varying backgrounds–from historians to anthropologists. The other detail I like is that these are real books. These are not flimsy paperbacks with nothing to them. These are nicely weighted, thick pages with color-rich images and presented in style.
This set of books is a bit overwhelming–there are over 1,500 pages to go through–but it’s done exquisitely (and rightly so, given the price tag). These are the kind of books that you flip through, admire the images, and read over a long period of time. If I didn’t also eat dinner on my coffee table, I’d love to keep these right in the middle. I’m still working my way through it, page by page, but if you’ve ever wondered just how far back beauty has dated or what kind of beauty “rituals” were performed hundreds of years ago and how they’ve shaped beauty as it stands today–this is something to put on your wish list.