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A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books

LitHub – Jude Stewart Breaks Down the Chemical Reactions Behind Olfactory Bibliomania…”This is an intimate smell that’s not necessarily miniature. You can smell a single old book, riffle through its pages rapidly and let your nose bask in the scented breeze. But just as often you encounter this smell as a solid wall in a used bookstore or library. Writ large like this, old books smell like a constructed forest: ancient and druidical, exhaling to make their own atmosphere, a forgotten primordial home.The smell of old books stems from their slow chemical decomposition. Books are largely paper, and paper is largely plants. But the materials from which books are made have shifted over the centuries—and those shifts, in turn, have influenced how different generations of books smell. Before 1845, paper in books was manufactured from cotton and linen rags…”

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