Reading & Writing · Teaching & Working · Uncategorized

My silly pleasure ~ Sniffing the pages of a book

I think we all do certain things that are unique and quirky. I’m pretty sure that my friends would rhyme off a list of things that they call, Heidi-isms — usually it’s related to the things I say, not necessarily what I do.  I am not a very superstitious person or ritualistic person. So, I don’t get too wrapped up in having things “just-so”or doing this that way.

However, there is this one silly thing that I do DO — and it has been noticed by a chosen few (especially my grade 6 students).  I LOVE TO SNIFF THE PAGES OF A BOOK! The smell of books is my favourite thing! As a teacher, and a literacy guru…books are my one addiction. For me, walking into a used bookstore…is the equivalent of a man walking into a motorcycle/ATV store.  My palms sweat, my blood races, and my senses are on high alert like a shark smelling blood. Used book store? Ah yes…it’s so warm and inviting there.  The books are well-loved and people have taken their books there, so other book lovers can enjoy them (and so they get a store credit, to feed their book buying addiction).

When I walk into a used book store, I always walk out with 5 to…20 books.  When I walk into Chapter’s/Indigo, I walk out with maybe…one.  In fact, 88% of the time I end up going to the kiosk in a big box store, to order a book that I have on my wish list. There is something about the big box stores that puts me out of the mood.  I don’t feel like my purpose is to go in and find a good book. I feel like I’m in Wal-Mart looking for Glad storage ware….where is it?

When I am in a used book store, I feel like a pirate looking for a treasure.  You know the treasure is somewhere, and you are going to love every minute looking for it.  What will I find along the way? I always find books that I am completely shocked to find.  As a literacy loving teacher, I have dozens of books on my wish list – and a hundred authors that I follow because of the style they use and the techniques that repeat in their books.  Just last week, I was in one of my favourite used book stores and I found two fantastic picture books!  I could not believe that I was going to buy each one for $2.00, when I absolutely would have paid $19.99 in the big box store. What a treasure I had found!

My kids LOOOOOVE the used bookstores too.  I think they love how used book stores are a bit random and “disorganized”.  They enjoy the quest and adventure for trying to find a book that will make their day. If nothing else, I just love watching them dive into the shelves with such passion and anticipation.  They’re just hoping to find a book that they too can love.  What more could a teacher-mother ask for?

Sniffing the pages? Where does this quirk come from?  I think as a kid, books always had a bit of an odour to them…that’s just the way books were (in the old days). Because each book had its own smell, I started sniffing the pages of books at a young age.  So, nowadays, I do this habitually.  I pick up the book that has a cover or title that catches my eye. I immediately crack the spine, and inhale….searching for the right scent… will this be the one? Is this the book that I want to take home with me today? Nah!!!  I want to try another one.

The moments that are most cherished are these.  I’ll pick up a book to read aloud to my class, I will open the book….and the wonderful scent fills my nose.  Ahhhhhhhhhh! Beautiful!  Quite often, the smell even triggers a memory.  It most certainly brings a calm, relaxing, warm feeling over me.  My students kinda look at me funny…and I remind them of my little quirk, “Remember, I love to sniff the pages.”  I know they think it’s kinda odd, they love to tease me about it because every time I get lost in the sniffing…they chuckle (here she goes again).  They also laugh at me when I consistently repeat these words, “I can’t wait to read this book to you, it’s one of my favourites!”  By January, they’re shouting back, “Ms. Solway, you always say the book is your favourite.”  I usually reply, “Well it’s a good thing that I have so may favourite books, otherwise I might never read to you at all!”  No doubt, many of these books are the ones that they beg me to reread to them. This is my favourite part about teaching.  Even eleven year old kids, love to sit on the carpet and listen to a good book.  Afterall, there are plenty of good ones out there….and man do they ever smell good too!

What a silly pleasure it is.  Are you a book lover?

What is your silly pleasure?


5 thoughts on “My silly pleasure ~ Sniffing the pages of a book

  1. I prefer going to a used bookshop for all the reasons that you have mentioned. I have discovered some great treasures in just such stores. There are times that I enjoy the smell of a book’s pages, but it’s not something that I do every time.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I think when I retire as a teacher, I will certain consider opening a used book store. Book lovers go into used book stores. People who need to buy a book (or coffee, or CD, or gift card) go into the big box book stores.

  2. I must admit that i have never sniffed a book, but I do love the smell of most books, as long as they aren’t musty, moldy or dusty. Some of the books that are returned to the library, I’m almost afraid to touch. I wash my hands regularly.
    I just finished a great book – The Help. Have you read it?
    If you ever open a used book store, I have lots of books to donate to you! I keep picking them up….
    At a yard sale last weekend, I found a Barbara Reid book!

    1. You have never sniffed a book?!? A librarian? Oh my, I do feel pretty abnormal now. I thought for sure that a librarian would be guilty of this little act. Okay, I’m extra quirky because it is the old, musty books that I love to sniff. I still have my own copy of “Harry the Dirty Dog” and it smells…perfect! I can think of a few of my students that have returned books to your library in very questionable condition. Time for the sanitizer!
      I have not read “The Help”. I have a HUGE line -up of books to read. I’ve been ORDERED to read humour for the next little while 🙂 I’ve been reading too many serious plots, biographies, and memoirs. If I’m telling my students to read a variety of genres, then I better too.
      Okay, so in the year 2030, I will give you a call and ask you for your donation of books. LOL. And as for finding the Barbara Reid book at a yard sale…nice score. I love that! I just can’t let good literature go in a yard sale. I either take it to the used book store, or hand them over to fellow teacher colleagues 🙂

  3. I think coffee & used books go VERY well together….just ask my husband! The aroma of both can pull a coffee/book lover right into the chair for a long time! If you saw our basement you would realize we have our very own used bookstore in our house. Although we don’t “sell” any books, that doesn’t stop my husband from continuing to add to the stock. This summer I went to liquidation world & bought 3 more bookcases so we could get the books off the floor. The idea was to “organize & purge” the collection……we’ll see if that actually happens!

    One of my purchases at a used bookstore this summer was a book on Winston Churchill. I haven’t read it yet, but I have always been fascinated with the impact he had on the world.

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