Saturday, December 13, 2008
The Scent of a Book
Don’t you just love the smell of books? Not just the newly-published scent of new ones, but the dry cholera-inducing dust of ancient tomes, too. I can open a book and feel the last person to have touched the pages – and I don’t mean by the bits of skin they left behind.
Harold can do this too, he claims, though admittedly, the last time he tried it he described the previous reader as ‘a woman of discernable taste and a penchant for leather and edged weapons.” I was really impressed until Gillian came in to ask him what he’d thought of the book she’d lent him.
Other books had an ambience attached to them. We’ve got, in the shop, some tomes rescued from the Church of St. Joseph and All Saints in Broomhall Street. They have an aura of standoffishness, as if they’re too good for the regular run of books. We keep them under glass not because of their gold-leaf covers and spines, but because the other books just didn’t get on with them at all.
Not that book have feelings, you understand, but when a whole shelf full drop to the floor rather than scare space with ‘ A Canterbury Canticle’ and ‘Psalms from a Laverstone Leper’ you know something’s up.