Monday, October 8, 2012

The Silent Smell of Dusty Old Books

I ought to be ashamed to admit this, but there is no writing without sometimes admitting things we would rather not remember, is there? So instead of rewriting the past, I admit it: I had never stepped beyond the entrance area of the main library on campus until today. In three years, I only went into the library a couple of times to coordinate for group projects--I never went up to the intimidatingly-called "stacks."

But why such an intimidating name? "The stacks." It really just means shelves and shelves of books. And it wasn't even a complicated navigation. I looked up the book I wanted on my phone, got the info on its location, matched that info up to the library map, took the elevator up and up, followed the signs, and there was the Shakespeare section. There right in front of me sat about four editions of the book I wanted (though, incidentally, none were the type of edition I needed). Since they didn't have what I wanted, I kept looking until I found something else I could use for my project/paper.

Having set aside the time, I spent two hours in near silence, staring at shelves of old, crusty books about Shakespeare. I had trouble reading the titles on the top shelf, so I spent almost half the time standing on a stool like a silly short person. Other times I perched on the floor, reading the bottom titles, or half-sitting on the stool to glance through a book.

Every so often, I would smile at a cover, a cover so warped with age that it had become tremblingly romantic-looking. Or a book so old I wasn't sure I could believe it was actually over a century old--surely it had to be a newer publication. A few times, I brought the aged pages to my face to smell their vanilla-y essence--some only smelled okay, but others had the aroma of a thousand pages of life.

In two hours, only a few people walked by--and they would have had to look directly into my aisle to pay me any mind. So I was very much alone with mostly aged books for those two hours. It was semi-fascinating.

And I even got to bring home one of the books with me; it's a decrepit old thing that may very well be from 1915. Though not the most gorgeous I saw today, it's still quite a nice thing to behold. Methinks I shall have to pitter patter across the stacks again sometime (as in, hint hint, for my honors thesis?).

No comments:

Post a Comment