Teddy Wayne: The Smell of a Book

Wayne feasts on the pleasures of book sniffing @ McSweeney’s.

I know e-readers are all the rage, but I’ll never get one. Call me a Luddite, but there’s something irreplaceable about a printed book: the heft of it in your hands, the striking cover, and, most important to me, its smell.

I fondly recall hiding under the covers after lights-out as a kid, Hardy Boys mystery in one hand and flashlight in the other, escaping into the adventures of Frank and Joe through the portal of the pages’ woodsy scent as I deeply inhaled the trapped, bookish air inside my blanket. In high school and college, I went on to discover many of my longstanding favorites: spare, economical bouquets from Hemingway, elegant perfumes of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age, the smoke swirling around a Chandler potboiler (my guilty pleasure!).

And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.

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