The smell of old books

I wrote a short, short piece, which was published today on River Teeth, a US-based journal of narrative nonfiction. Only some of you will know the shops in Calcutta I talk about, but all of you will know the smell of old books.
I’d love to know what it makes you think of – leave me your thoughts here, or on the River Teeth website when you get there. I’ll give you a bunch of sunflowers and wild leaves in return.

15 thoughts on “The smell of old books

  1. As usual, I loved it Pia…it took me to my childhood days of going to such shops, not in Calcutta though…and loosing all sense of time and space…oh how I love the smell of an old book, and getting lost in a book shop…this is making me very nostalgic :-)…thanks for writing such good stuff Pia !!!

  2. “…a strip that smelled of ageing pages, a slower time. Of escape and silence and summer’s shade.” and suddenly I am with you in that very shop, breathing in the heady sigh of the pages as I turn them over, stop at a word and smile a little at how just at that moment, the world is still… and largely okay. 🙂

  3. Libraries and old book shops have something no kindle can replicate…the rustle of old paper, dust motes suspended in the air, redolent with thoughts and emotions of all those who leafed through those pages long ago…love your writing, as always…you make me long for simple pleasures 🙂

  4. Thanks, Tandra – you're right, there's something warm and nostalgic about the smell of yellowing pages. A few days ago, I saw Chotto-ma open one of my old books and bury her nose in, and it made me laugh. The things I pass on!

  5. So happy you were with me in that shop for a bit. Yes, the world is always 'largely okay' in little bookshops filled with old books.

  6. Yes, to all your words and the picture you paint, AD – “…the rustle of old paper, dust motes suspended in the air, redolent with thoughts and emotions of all those who leafed through those pages long ago…”. How can kindles compete with that?
    Thank you.

  7. As much as the world goes digital, there is nothing second to the feel of paper, each yellowed page telling it's own tale, the spine bent and and cover page faded.

    I love most, the messages on the first page of the second hand books.. Somewhere somehow the feeling that this book was held with much love, years ago, makes it even more special…

  8. Ah, we have a love of first-page messages in common, Fiona.
    I've had a story brewing about that for a long time.
    Thank you for your putting your thoughts down in such lovely words.

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