A Scent Like No Other

The scent of fresh dill and cilantro whisks me back to markets in Russia where I’d buy cookies by the kilogram and beef that had been butchered an hour earlier. The fresh smell of pine after a rain reminds me of hiking among the towering sequoias. And the smell of popcorn transports me to my dorm room my senior year, when we ate popcorn all night as we studied for finals.

But there’s one scent like no other. It conjures up the hope of possibilities, of adventure, of exotic places and people.

It’s the smell of old books. Some say it’s because the chemicals in paper over time take on a hint of vanilla and almonds, just enough to be pleasing.

I think I love the smell because of the adventures books have taken me on and the people and places I’ve met through them. It’s almost like standing on the threshold of a magical land.

So it will probably be no surprise to you when I say I resisted ebooks at first. The thought of reading without pages to turn held no appeal. But now I read much more on my kindle than not.

But I still love the feel of a book, especially hardback books that aren’t cramped into the trade paperback dimensions. And I miss being able to hold the book, to admire the illustrations, and to be able to read the maps without squinting.

What about you? Any other lovers of hardbacks or paper books in general?

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