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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Positively Aromatic

by Mauverneen

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived." - Helen Keller

The Long Room, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
      Someone, in one of the Facebook groups I belong to, recently posted a funny comment on book sniffing. If you are a book lover, you get it.  
        There is something about the smell of books - particularly old ones.
       As a kid, my favorite store in town was a place called Henley's Book Store. Oh how I loved that place! My mother would take me there for books and paper dolls. For some reason I remember getting magnetic paper dolls. You didn't need tabs to hold the clothes on, they stuck on all by themselves by static electricity. (Kind of like when you rub a balloon on your sweater and stick it to a wall.)
     I am laughing as I write this - not only am I sounding like my mother, remembering my childhood, but it is amazing how little it took to keep us entertained. A little paper, a balloon, maybe an old catalog... Do they still make paper dolls?
      Funny how a smell can bring up so many memories.
      I do love the smell of old books. I recently had occasion to visit a very old library - the Long Room of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. And the first thing I noticed was the smell. The wonderful aroma of books. Very old books. Chatting with another visitor he asked me if I noticed the smell. "You too?" I responded. And then we both launched into our shared feelings on the love of that particular smell and how we were both completely awestruck at the sight of all those books, agreeing we did not want to leave.
      Looking at this picture, I can almost smell it.
      Have you ever read the book The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? I wonder if he got his inspiration for the Cemetery of Forgotten Books from this place.
      Some of us still prefer to turn paper pages as opposed to virtual pages. I think part of that may be that holding that book engages other senses - not just sight, but touch, and smell, in a way an electronic device never will.
      Have a Positively wonderful day - go sniff a book!
"She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library past and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass.” - Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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  1. Hi Maureen,
    I loved this! Totally agree about books, Henley's, and love the quote from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Although I am an equal opportunity addict, I have a Kindle, there is nothing like the physical experience of reading a book. Loved books before I could read them. I really enjoyed your piece. And your photographs, too.

    Kathy Whitgrove