Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Books Aren't Like New Cars

I was flipping through the book's introduction, looking for a quote I'd marked for my research. I was on track--but then I got distracted for half a second. Flipping through this book, I reacted to it. Ew, I thought, it smells like a new book.

And it was a new book. In the piles of books I'm using right now for this project, many are used, a couple are new, and one or two are getting old. It's the old ones I delight in: while flipping their pages, I bring my face closer and breathe in that vanilla smell. It smells like adventure, decadence, history, loss and joy, and triumph. But new books, new books just smell like paper. Bleh. So boring, so untainted, so plain, so blank, so unrefreshing.

Which is funny considering that everyone talks about new car smells, new apartment smells, new whatever else smells. With these, the new smell marks a pristine quality, a newly-and-perfectly manufactured product. But books aren't like that. If they are new, that means no one has read them yet. Once they begin to age, it means they have been enjoyed and treasured for years, the pages have been flipped countless times in devotion. They become richer with experience, rather than hopes for the future (like looking forward to taking that new car out for a ride).

I'm also so amused now that books I once bought new and pristine in bookstores are now beginning to turn into fragrant vanilla books. My library is aging--and that delights me.

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