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I Am Not a Book Sniffer…

...though I don’t judge those who are.

Used with permission.

…unless a book smells bad—like mildew or cigarette smoke. If it is a book I want to keep, I work on remediating the smell. Otherwise, the book exits my house quickly.

I read an article recently (well, part of an article) about book buying experience. This included “smelling the pages.” While the smell of pages might have drifted up into my nostrils and been subconsciously imprinted in there somewhere, my reading has never been about how the pages smell.

Always, always, always, my reading is about the story. About the words. Does the first paragraph suck me into the story? Will this story keep me reading past the first chapter or two? If I’m not hooked by then, there is a high chance I won’t finish the book. 

In my early book buying days, I might have picked a book up because the cover was brighter on the shelves than the books next to it. But mostly I browsed by author, sometimes examining the books “neighbors” because I was already there. 

But even with favorite authors, it always came back to story. Were they still writing stories that I wanted to read? There are authors that I read avidly in the ’80s and ’90s and now I barely remember their names. Some I’ve even purged from my shelves because they somehow lost their magic for me. This change happened inside me and is not the fault of the authors. Somehow I lost my link with the chemistry of how they used words. 

For me, it happens sometimes. Not sure how it works for others.

My keepers, well, the magic never dims, even as the covers fade and the pages indicate an inclination to leave the binding. I have books that originally cost 60 cents. Yup, they are that old. But their magic to engage me in the story persists. 

I love books. Old books, new books, digital books. Books. Because I love stories. I love being swept away into another place, another time, and spending time with characters who become real to me. 


Well, I like the smell of chocolate and bacon. If new books smelled like chocolate or bacon, I’d be a book sniffer. But they don’t. They smell like books. Some smell like new books (I suppose) and some smell like old books. But if you asked me what that meant, I’d say, they smell like stories. They smell like words. But I’d rather read them than smell them. 

Are you a book sniffer? What makes you buy a book? 

Perilously yours,


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