Why do YOU book sniff?

April 7, 2015 Fun Questions 27

Fun Questions LogoJoin me Tuesdays as I ask a Fun Question that’s been on my mind. I’ll give you my take, but I really hope you’ll jump in with your answers too, since I’m really curious to know what my fellow readers and bloggers think! So today’s question is…

Why do YOU book sniff?

You notice I didn’t ask IF you book sniff. I know some of you probably don’t, but I’m taking the number of mentions of paper and books from a recent Harry Potter Moment of the Week to confirm that many MANY of you do. I sure as hell do. But why? Why do we like that smell so much?

For me it’s not just books, it’s paper in general. I think it’s because I’m both a reader and a writer. So taking a whiff of fresh paper is closely linked in my mind to that storm before the calm. The moment before the ideas flood and I start scribbling away. It’s also why I always write on paper before transferring to a word processor. The ideas just come better on paper and I wouldn’t be surprised if the smell signals something in me that says “Now’s time! Unlock the flood gates! Write!”

There’s a different smell in a finished book though, and I love that as much. Am I the only one who goes into their bookshelf periodically, picks up a favorite book, admires the cover, and then opens it up and takes a deep whiff? Am I outting myself as a weirdo? Not only do I do this, but I SWEAR, the smell brings me back to the book. It probably doesn’t hurt that when I open it, it opens up to an oft read passage and that page probably has a unique well-read odor.

I also book sniff at book stores, and I’ve been laughed at (good naturedly, by my brother) for doing so. Apparently this is a weird thing to do. But I love to hold fresh, untouched books and smell that off-the-press smell full of possibilities. And yes, I really only do this with books I’m DYING to read. How smart would it be of publishers to start giving books a scent? Like here’s your romance with a scent of rose? IDK honestly, it might ruin the paper smell. Or it might be cool and make others finally GET IT.

Why do you think smelling a book means so much? I think it’s because our sense of smell is SO linked to emotion. Check this out:

In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation […] Given that our sense of smell clearly plays an important part in our psychological make-up, in addition to it being one of the five ways in which we connect with the world around us, its absence can have a profound impact. Anosmia sufferers often talk of feeling isolated and cut-off from the world around them, and experiencing a ‘blunting’ of the emotions. Smell loss can affect one’s ability to form and maintain close personal relationships and can lead to depression.Fifth Sense: Smell, Taste, Life

Makes sense right? It also makes me start to think about all the reading I do on my e-Reader and audiobooks. Am I destroying part of my reading experience? Or am I introducing a smell that’s different from paper, but equally emotive? I know that when my short story was published and I saw it on the eReader that was cool. But when I got the paper back (almost two months later) I almost cried. It was so different. It was more emotional. And I totally sniffed it. Maybe the emotion was the smell?

So time to ante up! Do YOU book sniff? Why do YOU book sniff? Or, why not?

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Berls

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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

27 Responses to “Why do YOU book sniff?”

  1. Rachelle
    Twitter:

    The smell of books is why I’ll never go completely digital, even though I love ebooks. I love all the different kinds of book smells. The smell of library books, the smell of mass market paperbacks vs. the smell of trade paperbacks (I think the difference is the paper, but both are great), and my copy of The Historian has a scent to it that I couldn’t get enough of while I was reading it. It was completely different from any other book’s scent I’ve come across. I can’t even place the smell, but it’s somewhere between pastries and perfume. Then there’s the smell of fresh ink on the pages of my writing books. I think all of these different book smells are one of the reasons bookstores and libraries are calming for me, and why I love to write.
    Rachelle recently posted…Read-Along: The House of SpiritsMy Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      I completely agree – there’s something very soothing about all the smells! I hadn’t thought to categorize by type of print, but you’re right – Hard cover, paperback, and trade have different smells!

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      I so agree! I love my kindle and the convenience but if I LOVE a book, I’m buying a physical copy!

  2. Liza Barrett

    Well, you ARE outing yourself as a weirdo, but it’s ok because I think we’re all in there with you. Power to the weirdos! I love opening up a much loved book and just taking a deep breath. It’s very calming.

    So is walking into a bookstore. Sometimes when I’m REALLY stressed I make my fiance go to a bookstore with me (without money — that’s why the fiance has to be involved, willpower and whatnot), run my fingers along the shelves, and just take some deep breaths. There’s honestly very few things as relaxing.

    I know what you mean about the ebook and audiobook thing. I think I, for one, have established different triggers. I tend to play mindless games while I listen to audiobooks at home if I’m not doing chores and whatnot. Minesweeper is a particular favorite (because you expect to die so much that you don’t need to bother paying close attention!). Anywho, I’ve found that there are a few specific patterns in the numbers/bombs that make me think of particularly emotive scenes I’ve previously listened to. It’s like that pattern is forever tied to that scene, and every time it comes up I think about that book. I have a particular issue with this and the Grisha series — for some reason minesweeper frequently makes me think about the Darkling.

    There are worse fates. *evil grin*
    Liza Barrett recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: April 7 — Characters I’d Like to Follow-Up OnMy Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      LOL frequently being reminded of the Darkling? Poor thing 😉

      That’s really interesting about audiobooks – that you’ve created a different kind of connection to them. I think my problem is that I listen to audiobooks doing EVERYTHING. I listen while cleaning, showering, getting dressed, doing mindless computer tasks, driving, working out,walking the dog… you get the idea. So I haven’t created a special space for them.

      I had to laugh about bringing the fiance to the bookstore with you- Yeah that’s the only safe way! Mine won’t let me spend unless I can convince him to read the book and he doesn’t really read (I know, sad!) so I don’t buy books with him. My brother encourages the spending, bad! Guess who I take with me more? LOL yeah, my brother!

      • Liza Barrett

        I used to do that with songs and mowing the lawn. If I trimmed the tree the same direction as the time before, I’ll suddenly get the song I was listening to that time stuck in my head. It’s really weird. So even though I do SO MUCH while I listen to audiobooks, certain things still form weird little triggers (I’m sensing a topic for the next Monday Morning Musings developing here). I wonder if many other people end up with weird sensory triggers too (besides just book sniffing)?

        The fiance is hit or miss — sometimes he encourages because he gets that buying books can be therapeutic. Sometimes (like when I’m stressed BECAUSE Of finances), I tell him he’s not allowed to let me get anything, or that there’s a limit. That usually works pretty well. He likes to do things like, “For every book over that you get, you have to do _____” (insert some awful, cruel and unusual punishment, like being tickled for 20 mins straight). It’s surprisingly effective.
        Liza Barrett recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: April 7 — Characters I’d Like to Follow-Up OnMy Profile

        • Berls
          Twitter:

          LOL your fiance sounds great – definitely a keeper 🙂

          I think you’re definitely on to something here with different triggers! I look forward to seeing your post and others thoughts!

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      LOL I’m glad, I had so much fun with it 🙂 I know exactly what you mean – I think that’s triggering an emotional memory to us that is warm and cozy and says “READ” 😀

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      LOL I can understand that, actually. Older books – especially if they weren’t well taken care of – can have an unpleasant musty smell. But if they aren’t damaged, I love the way they smell 🙂

  3. Lola
    Twitter:

    I don’t deliberately sniff books, but I do love the smell of books. It’s one of the things I sometimes miss when reading an e-reader. And it’s interesting how some books have a slightly different book smell, I wnder what factors determine how a book smells? And really old books smell more dusty, I prefer the smell of new books. During my study we tuched upon the subject of smell a few times and while there hasn’t been much research to it yet, there were some studies that ndicated that smell could influence emotions and descision making. It’s certainly an interesting topic!
    Lola recently posted…Cover Reveal: Taken by Chance by Erica Cameron and Lani WoodlandMy Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      I think books smell different depending on how they’re made. Like really really old books (I’m talking middle ages) smell very different from our books because they used vellum instead of manufactured paper. And then there’s the kind of ink they use and, of course, age and how it’s been cared for (i.e., where it’s been stored, if it’s had sun exposure, water damage, etc). It’s really fascninating to think of all the ways smell can change and how it can impact us!

  4. Ramona
    Twitter:

    I know what you mean. Being able to sniff at the book you’re reading – as well as physically holding it in your hands – does enhance the overall experience. I sniff at books a lot too. I think all of us, book lovers, do. We’re weird like that 🙂 I’ll never have that type of relationship/connection with my Kindle… Sad. Amazing post!
    Ramona recently posted…Happy Easter! (Zen Monday)My Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      Thanks Ramona 🙂 I know, it is sad that eBooks already lose so much just because we can’t smell them. I like to think we’re just more evolved, not weird 😉

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    Well, if all that makes you weird, I’m weird as well. But I have a feeling that most of us bibliomaniacs fall into that ‘weird category. 🙂 I’m so, so happy to know that you write on paper first. I thought I was the only weird one who did that. I think I’ve told you before, but I write my reviews on paper first as well. My thoughts really do flow more quickly when I’m writing on paper. And YES it does have to do with smell. I sniff books, paper, in bookstores…I love getting boxes of goodies from my grandma because it smells like her. I hadn’t really thought about *not* being able to smell. That would be depressing. I absolutely have memories tied to smells…a lot of them in books. 🙂 Fun post, Berls!
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Tuesday Teaser ~ #63My Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      I know could you imagine not being able to smell!?!? That would be such a huge loss. When I first got back to writing I tried using the computer but I quickly realized my ideas flowed much better on paper. I actually write my reviews on my phone, but maybe I should try writing them too!

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      Oh I love that “Sniffer at Large” it should be on a shirt or bumper sticker or something 🙂 I hadn’t thought about CD booklets, but that’s a good one!

  6. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)
    Twitter:

    Lol! For me it’s just an involuntary action and I do believe it’s about the paper. I’ve had a weird relationship with paper since the first grade. Remember that triple-lined paper? It had a unique odor that I can still smell just by thinking of it (loved it). Used book stores are the best sniffing opportunities.

    Thanks for outing me:)
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) recently posted…Coming Home! Going Long by Cari QuinnMy Profile

    • Berls
      Twitter:

      Haha! I do remember that paper, though not its smell. I’m going to have to give it a whiff next time my step-son’s little brother is using it 🙂

      Oh and yes! That’s probably why I enjoy Half Price Books so much! So many sniffing possibilities!

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