Andujar: Smells like paper spirit

Andujar: I'm a book sniffler -Photo from

This is a weekly installment of Suzette Andujar’s column series, “As I was saying.”

One day I was in the library and “studying” really hard. Various -ologies, from turkology to fromology, were laid out on the table before me as if I were the main guest in an abandoned French castle. I didn’t pay attention to the content of the books. No, I was much more interested in something else, something that was ingrained in my soul. I lifted a heavy book to my face, closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. I exhaled very fast before inhaling again. A smile came upon my face and I lowered the book. I opened my eyes…and saw half of the library gawking at me with repulsion. Haven’t they ever seen someone do that before? I was not ashamed and I will admit it to the world. My name is Suzette and I’m a book sniffer.

I’ve read up on book sniffing and yeah, it’s a thing. There are “Reddit” threads where book sniffers can unite and share their common passion. A common comment people communicate is the fact that books smell like their childhood. Personally, I’m not reminded of my own childhood, I simply just like the fragrance. There are articles about the science in book pages. Older books are made with different chemicals and with age, they give off that delicious, homey smell. Newer books are made only with glue and paper and yes, they smell good too.

There’s a debate whether old books smell better than new books. Old books just have that old adhesive, settled dust smell whereas new books have a more factory, paper smell. Whether new or old, the smell of a book comforts the soul and mind. A quick search on Amazon brought me to a scented book candle. It isn’t the same as living in the library, but since I cannot, the aromatic wax is a great alternative. I plan to purchase a prodigious pile of packages for my pleasure. If it were a perfume, I’d love a bottle of Eau d’Odor de Book and would spray it liberally. I’m just realizing how great that would be. I mean, I’d be a walking book scent! It would be my precious forever. I’m getting Smeagol/Gollum vibes. I’d better control myself.

There’s just something about the smell of paper that just makes me happy. Call me a geek or a nerd, if there’s a real difference, and judge me, I really don’t care. I have just one literary wish. I long to live in a world where book sniffers can inhale freely. A world where noses and books collide with no shame. One day, I’d love to walk into a library and see someone with her head plopped down into a book. She would look up at me and we’d share a knowing look. “I hope you enjoyed that,” my smile would say. Her smile would reply, “Yes, it smells like paper spirit.” I’d say out loud, “That’s nirvana.”

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  1. Best book scent: The books that have been sitting on the shelves for years marked with a “Glassboro State College” stamp.