Scientists can now tell the condition of an old book by its smell.
I love old books. The smell of them, musty and tingling in my nose. It reminds me of our old abode in San Juan Capistrano, with that room under the stairs with the blankets that smelled of either mold, old wood, or the machinations of a mob of allergens destined to wreak havoc on the Wels family sinus region.
Like many book aficionados, if I see a used, rare- or any, really- bookshop, I will enter without pause. Towering, reaching shelves that seem to have no apparent end. Unshaven, baggy-eyed employees behind the counter. And that smell.
It’s a smell of history, of lingering memories, of liminal moments in time. Dust, in wispy eloquence, settles then shifts, like the tides of Northern California’s coastline.
I step inside and I am someplace new, someplace in time, in history, or perhaps even the future.
The towers of misshapen books on either side of me wrap their warming, tingling tentacles around my shoulders.
I breathe in and smile. I am home.
For a great independent/used book store blog, visit the great folks at Bookstore People.
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