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The Smell of Books

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And you can quote me: "I went to the library today - it was the first time that I'd been there in a few months, and when I walked in, I was immediately struck by the smell."

Posted in How I'm Feeling, My Day, Observations, Random Thoughts, Serious, Things I Like, August 14th, 2008


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I went to the library today – it was the first time that I’d been there in a few months, and when I walked in, I was immediately struck by the smell.

Now, I don’t mean that the library smelled bad. Quite the opposite.

It was the smell of books, and it was heavenly – almost heady.

There’s just something about the smell of books – it’s the smell of literature, the smell of information – it’s the smell of knowledge.

Walking down the stacks is a sensory experience to which nothing else compares. The smell of the books – the rows and rows and rows – the feel of their heft in your hands.


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When I was at university, I did a research project for which I got to use original source materials. Where I went to university they had an amazing collection of old books, and when I tread – oh so lightly and in an almost euphoric state – among the stacks of the old book collection, it was like being in the presence of history itself. Books that I picked up and opened were from other centuries, and had leather bindings, gold leaf letters, and unslit pages.

I was humbled.

And they smelled divine.

Now don’t get me wrong – I really like my Kindle too.

But nothing – ever – will take the place of books.

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