The smell came from nowhere. It just hit me as I was wiping my face, the way I do when I am thinking these days. A pondersome think as I rub the Fu Manchu and goatee, forming my beard, that is now second nature for me. But that smell, it came from nowhere. I smelled my hands and it was not on them. There is nothing so old and damp that has that smell, but it brought back memories.
I recall being younger and going to used bookstores with my father. He loved old books, and new ones too, but he really liked the old one. “There is nothing better than the smell of an old book.” He had books throughout our house as I grew up. I still have some of them, as does my mother and sister. It is not the most pleasant smell when it is unexpected, but if you can sit down with a cup of tea, a comfy chair, and an old book, it is a smell that can transport you further than a tank of gas; or as near as your soul.
But that smell that he liked so much, he tried to emulate in our house. He had a room that was filled with old books and newspapers. The amount of paper was a fire hazard based on the age alone. Almost all of it yellowed.
I know the books that I have just sit in wait on my bookshelves. Waiting to be opened again, or for the first time. I have books, and I love to read, but my books are abused. They do not get a second glance anymore other than the cover. A title that says all I need to know. If I know the title, I know what to look for to get a digital copy.
Someone mentioned how much they love to read their books to me the other day. They said they loved the feel of an open book. The tactile response of turning a page. I questioned why they did not use an electronic device to do this, as I have adopted. A page can be turned with a swipe.
I have a Kindle. Specifically covered with a protector that looks like a book. It holds so many books in such a small area. Its sole purpose it for reading. No playing on the internet (it can do that, but the experience is horrible), only reading a book in parts or whole. Mine has collections of poems, books I have read before, books I will never read, and books I have sitting on my shelf.
My friend never mentioned the smell. I was able to supplement the feel. That book cover feels pretty good. When I pick it up, every book I own is now leather backed and special.
What my Kindle does not have is the smell. The smell no one will ever sell. I have seen leather candles. I have seen candles that imitate many smells to make you feel comfort and at home as if your home is lacking something. Buy a candle to make it smell like a fireplace in December. You wouldn’t have to go someplace that is cold to light a large fire. But they do not sell stale air.
As I am thinking about this, stroking the facial hair I have and pondering, I think there is something I need to do. Something I am drawn to. Something on a shelf that might be calling me, not with words but with a smell. Something contained in a book, but not written down.
And now, do this I…