Betsy Loves, Culture

The book sniffer

I love books; I’m a bibliophile.

There are piles of books in my flat – books on the floor, books on the dressing table, books on the coffee table, books under the bed, and of course a huge bookcase (colour-coded; it looks better…). I’m still a big believer in buying hardback books, especially if they’re from the first print run. If I’ve downloaded a book on my iPad which I end up loving, I usually end up buying its physical counterpart as well. My wish list on Amazon is pages long, and I think nothing of purchasing a basket from there at £50 a time when I shudder at spending that on a single item of clothing.

I also like to support bookshops though because they’re the best. York’s Waterstones has recently been revamped and it’s fab; there’s even a little cafe now where I can sit with my laptop for an hour or so while nibbling on a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

Libraries are pretty awesome places too (except when they hit you with insane late fines).

I love the stories and information that books contain I love their ability to transport me to another world for hours at a time; but perhaps, what I love the most, is their smell. More than a bibliophile, I’m a book sniffer. I can’t pick up a book and not bring it to my nose to smell; I just can’t stop myself.

There are so many different eau de book but broadly speaking you’ve got the real old smell that is like reaching into history itself; there is the secondhand book smell that seems like a small window into the lives of its previous owners; there is the brand new smell of your average paperback that hints at possibilities; and finally there is the shiny new textbook smell which actually breathes (I swear!) knowledge and education. I love them all.

People have spent time and money trying to bottle both new and old book smell; never successfully. Others work out scientifically what the smells are (mostly ink, glue, the paper itself, and then the subsequent breakdown of this) but really, I don’t care about the science; although it does make me feel sad to think about books slowing decaying until they finally die.

Nothing and no one will ever stop me from sniffing books, but then, I’m a sniffer (no negative connotations, please) in general. I also love the smell of neoprene and latex (whoa there, Mr T!), freshly mown grass, the earth after it’s rained; there’s a long list, and every single smell is connected to a memory or feeling, which, I imagine, is what makes them so precious.

What are your favourite smells?



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