Confessions of a Book-Sniffer

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I have moved around quite a bit. Traveling here, there, and back again many times. Consequently, many of my personal belongings have gotten lost in the shuffle – given away to strangers. Clothes, shoes, housewares, pictures, treasures I have hoarded since childhood. I have learned the (often hard) lesson that possessions are not what makes a person. And that sometimes, you have no choice but to let go of the things you hold most dear.

I now have no more than two suitcases and a few boxes to my name. Nothing that will serve much purpose with activities of daily living … but things I feel are essential parts to my story. I had to make room for what was most important, and so going without matching outfits seemed a fair price to pay in order to keep my books.

Since childhood, books have been my refuge. A way to escape all things mundane, and enter a world entirely new. A place where reality was fluid. Through books I was educated, accepted, nurtured. Through books, I gained invaluable insight into who I was & who I might become.

You will never catch me with a Nook or a Kindle. I could not ever be satisfied reading a novel through a computer screen. How would I scribble my thoughts on the pages? Where would my sticky notes attach? How would I smell the pages?

Grandma’s books that I ‘borrowed and have yet to return.’ Sorry, Gma.

And if I invested in an e-reader, I would no longer get the thrill of visiting the book sections of flea markets. 5 cent novels that someone has passed along. I can honestly say that carrying a bag full of books home is one of my favorite feelings — which is why they make up half of my belongings.

Rescuing new & used books is not my only delight … I also have an obsession with saving the ones I grew up with. The ones that made the biggest impact on me. I tell myself it’s because I want to pass them on to someone someday — but I think the real reason I hold on to them is because they still bring me joy.

I was read to every night. Mom & Grandma never ceased to amaze me with the books they chose. I loved nothing more than curling up next to them and getting the anxious thrill of the crisp pages being turned. You will never convince me that reading to a child from a screen has the same effect.

Books are treasures. Time capsules. Raw emotion. Cheap (sometimes free!) items that  span generations-lifetimes. I can curl the pages, write down jottings that came to mind while reading, fall asleep with a book-tent on my face. I can feel timeless as I read a book the old-fashioned way.

There has never been a moment that I regret giving up my belongings — just as long as I have kept my books safe, warm and loved.

By keeping them, I have preserved history. Not only that of the authors’, but mine as well.

Then & Now: My hand.

Then & Now: My foot.

So sniff away, lovely readers, and don’t ever be afraid to let it show.

[Don’t even get me started on people that cut up the pages of books to make “art”]


40 thoughts on “Confessions of a Book-Sniffer

  1. Pingback: Confessions of a Book-Sniffer « My sanctuary

  2. ah, books that sit on a shelf. leave them long enough and they become the colors of your wall. they become part of your house or your childhood. i love libraries and bookstores and librarians that recommend good books instead of just saying “shush.” being the kindle user that i am, i agree with your post, if only for their sentimental value. (btw, you can bookmark, highlight, add notes, check dictionary and search for any word or phrase in the book using kindle app)

  3. I LOVE books too! Always have! I, like you, are trying to recollect the books that I had during my childhood. I have gone back and forth about Kindle’s and such…knowing how cool it would be to be able to carry tons of books with you without literally carrying TONS of books…but honestly, it made me sad because I love the feel of physical books (which is also weird because I’m such an environmentalist).

  4. I myself have moved many times, I lug along several boxes full of books. Books I don’t dare get rid of, books I still have yet to read but have owned them for years. A large number of the books i still keep are form Stephen King and John Grisham

  5. I love, love, love books! I refuse to read digital books because to me, that’s not a book! I love the feel of the pages between my fingers. I love the weight of the book in my hands. And I, too, love the way books smell! My biggest fear is that one day books will be completely replaced by digital books. If that ever happens, I will be sad. 😦 Until then, I will continue to add to my collection. 🙂

    I love Stephen King, too!

  6. Mmmm. I love the smell of an old book. Spicy, dusty…I’d probably have to sprinkle a kobo with dirt and spices to get the same effect…probably not the best thing to do to a computer, and it would make me sneeze. Not the same.

  7. Love this post! I love buying used books, especially for their story w/in a story. My favorite example is a book I found with both an inscription assigning the book to her fiancé to read before she would marry him because it was her favorite book and w/ a plane ticket wedged between the pages as a book mark.

  8. I babysit my nieces once a month and it is expected (demanded?) that they each get at least one book read to them. They want more pictures than an e-reader has to offer. Although they haven’t started sniffing pages. …yet.

  9. I moved around a lot too when I was younger and often had to pack all my belongings into a suitcase, I always kept my favourite books, a couple of freaky dolls and all my diaries coz I was sure that one day I would be so famous someone would want to make a movie of my life using my diaries! I think the kindle was a disgusting invention.

  10. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Matson, told me that if I learned to read, I could travel all over the world, meet other children and have fun. It was a means of escape for me from some very dark days. To this day, I love to read and, since I co-own a printing company by day, appreciate the smell of books. Hadn’t thought about it from that perspective before – I like it! =)

  11. Ooooh, I agree with a lot of what you have said. I have always been read to as well, starting with the mostly-pictures-books, and ending with Harry Potter. I’ve always read as well, and was so surpised it was possible to “read in your head” (as opposed to reading it out loud). Now I read in bed almost every night. It relaxes my mind, so that I won’t brood to much for the remainder of the night. Also, the paying attention aspect means that I am actually quite tired when I stop reading, so I always sleep very well like this.
    On the other hand, I am also a HUGE fan of the ereader. Because another passion of mine is travelling, and I like to read while travelling. Lugging a load of books along is not always handy though. Especially when going by plane and a maxiumum weight limit is imposed.
    So yes. I definitely understand the attraction of actual books, and their smells, and their feel. and all that. But ereaders do have some merit as well 🙂

  12. I sniff books too. And I taught my daughter to sniff books, to enjoy the feel of a book, and I promised her I would always keep her earliest books (including the ones she doesn’t care that I keep) and we both think that Kindles are so unbook-ish that they are an insult to the senses…. Love your beautiful blog.


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