Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can You Smell That?

Smell is one of the strongest senses tied to memory. Nothing transports you faster to days long ago than a whiff of a long forgotten aroma from your past.

The smell of a new car. The wet pavement after a summer rain. Fresh bread baking in the oven. A field full of clovers. The first snowfall of Winter.

For me, it's the smell of a book, and the places where they come from. There's just something about the smell of a library or a bookstore. Whether it be the musty aroma of hundreds of novels that have passed through thousands of hands over the years, or the crisp scent of pristine tomes just hitting the shelves, it's the unique smell that you can only get from hundreds of books situated in one room.

It's like... magic.

I remember when I was younger, I used to make my dad come and sit with me in the library while I sorted through and eventually picked about 15 - 20 books to take home for those three glorious weeks. When I hit my teens, I used to make my parents drop me off at the giant bookstore about fifteen minutes away from my house while they did groceries.

And regardless of where I was, when I was amongst those books, time just disappeared.

When I hear that in the future bookstores and libraries will cease to exist, it just about breaks my heart. I know in this day and age, it's much easier to order your books online or have them directly downloaded to your e-reader, but nothing, absolutely nothing, beats walking into one of those sanctuaries and re-escaping to your childhood.

To this day, every time I hold a book in my hands, I can't resist taking a quick sniff of those pages...

What are your favorites scents? Which ones transport you back to your childhood? Do you have a strange obsession with the smell of books too?

25 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

I can relate. I visit the bookstore every week and the library every few weeks. My daughter picks out 20 books, and looks forward to our visit. I'm hoping that bookstores don't go away, but it's slowly happening.

I enjoy the outdoor smells of summer, it reminds me of my play time as a child.

Tara Tyler said...

i love school supplies and paper and new books and that moldy library old book smell too. ahhhh.

i have to tell you, in my near future book set, i made libraries into grand, old museums where people can still read the real thing, just not take it home =)

Joanne said...

I love everything about books too, including the smell of them. I hope that libraries and bookstores will always exist in some shape or form, co-existing with the digital world.

Murugi Njehia said...

I love books and libraries. I worry that one day labraries might disapper because of the ever growing digital world but secretly i am glad that it exists otherwise..i would not be able to blog! I am a new follower,you have a lovely blog.

jbchicoine said...

I also have always liked the smell of old books--not until I got older did I realize it was mildew! So what!
Indeed, scents are so evocative! One I recall from youth is the smell of fiberglass and saltwater...from when I would go sailing with my dad in his seaford skiff...so pungent and not particularly pleasing, but oh, the beautiful feelings it conjurs...can almost feel the wind on my sunburned cheeks!

Janet Johnson said...

I LOVE bookstores! We did bookstores more than libraries when I was little, and fortunately, my mom would get lost in there, too. There's nothing quite like the smell of a bookstore. :)

Jennifer Groepl said...

I love libraries and bookstores. I love the smell of books. I love leafing through books, just taking my time to choose exactly the right one. Ah.

Talli Roland said...

I loved the smell of the library, too. For me, freshly cut grass, rain on hot asphalt and the flower, iris, always bring back loads of memories.

prerna pickett said...

the smell of fresh peaches reminds me of my childhood, and libraries,of course.

Raquel.Somatra said...

The library is a big one for me, too. As a child, I would hold my breath as I stepped in... and then I'd inhale deeply, over and over again, trying to capture it in my body somehow.

Homemade flour tortillas bubbling on the skillet, oranges and mangoes, nag champa oil as it burns... So much can take me back to very specific periods in my life. It's remarkable, how smells can trigger that.

Tracy Z. said...

The bookstore and library are two of my favorite places on earth for the same reason. I love the smell of books. My husband doesn't understand why I don't want an eReader or Kindle or whatever those electronic gadgets are, but I love the smell of a book and the excitement of turning pages.

I also love the smell of fresh cut grass, especially if you've hit a patch of wild onion while mowing. I love the smell of rain in the fall. I love the smell of rosemary and magnolias.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think too much about smells, but I've dubbed my wife a 'sniffer' because she smells everything. Books included.

Krispy said...

I heart this post so much! I feel exactly the same way about books - about the way they look, feel, and smell! My sister always rolls her eyes at me when I say I'll only be a few minutes in the bookstore because that NEVER happens. It's the easiest way for me to spend time when I'm waiting for something (like the next movie time because I missed the first). It's why I'm so sad that Borders closed. There used to be one in my local mall that I went to all the time.

Jon Paul said...

I held off on getting a Kindle for a long time because of the tactile factors you describe--smell included. But with all the travelling I do, it's just too durn convenient.

But yeah, bookstores are pretty much like a playground to me. Here's to hoping enough folks feel the same way, and libraries and bookstores never become a thing of the past. :D

Jenny S. Morris said...

I gave you an award on my blog today. ;0)

Dawn Simon said...

Nice post. I love bookstores and libraries!

Specific scents definitely bring me back...the cut grass at my elementary school, various yummy cooking smells from my grandmother's kitchen, a perfume I wore in high school. It's wonderful.

Lydia Kang said...

The slightly smoky scent and cold air in the fall immediately transport me back to those Trick-or-Treating nights. :)

Ron Smith said...

Oh my god, I always smell the pages of a book. Especially a new paperback.

It always bring me back to when I was a kid and first read the Lord of the Rings.

I'm doing all I can to see that bookstores and libraries survive. In fact, I plan on asking my local library if they want any gently used YA books.

Lady Gwen said...

I always smell the pages of a book, too. I even like the old musty ones! Hopefully a few bookstores will escape - can't imagine life without bookstores:(

P.S. I have a couple of blog awards for you over on my site whenever you feel like stopping by!

The Red Angel said...

I love the smell of books. I've actually told all my friends at some point that I would never buy a Kindle. It's just not the same. And who wants to smell a Kindle anyway?

I love smelling the cool crisp air of autumn...when it's not yet cold enough to be considered winter time, but it's much cooler than spring or summer. It triggers the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas :)

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Jen Chandler said...

Hello from a new follower :)

Thanks so much for stopping by the other day and commenting on my blog.

My sense of smell is my strongest sense and every smell seems to take me back to a memory of some sort.

Books. I love the smell of books and magazines. Everytime I pick up a new one, an old one, a library book, doesn't matter, I hold it to my nose and sniff deeply. My favorite is to pick up British magazines and sniff. I always tell my husband that that must be what England smells like!

Happy Tuesday,
Jen

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Oh yes, my sense of smell is like a transport button LOL. I love the smell of old books (reminds me of college actually) and I really love the smell of wildgrass and wild flowers - it reminds me of childhood. Lovely post

Michelle Teacress said...

The very idea of 'real' books disappearing actually makes me buy more books so I have them when there are few. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I love smelling books. The older, the better (as long as there's no mold).

Certain smells from the outdoors, food, and other things bring me back to my childhood or certain situations. With one whiff I feel nostalgic.

Misha said...

Lol I'm so glad to hear you say that, because everyone I know thinks I'm insane because I smell my books.

The scent just takes my back to my years in libraries and in my gran's house.

Can't compare. :-)