Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Smelly Books

If you’re an avid blog follower, you might’ve noticed I missed my post two weeks ago on olfactory pleasures. This fortnight’s theme is “What I’ve been reading”, but, honestly, I haven’t read much lately and so I don’t have enough to put together a post.

So… maybe I can combine the two topics somehow? Smush the two posts into one…?

Ah, let’s start with a controversial statement. Stir up some anger and whatnot. Maybe this’ll start a good old-fashioned argument here on OGAG.

Here it is… ready…?

I despise the smell of old books.

How do I know it’s a controversial statement?

I googled “I love the smell of old books” and got 1.2 million results. Then I googled “I hate the smell of old books” and got ten results.

Obviously, I’m in a minority.

Perhaps it’s because I have a scent sensitivity, and perhaps it’s because some old books smell like almonds and the smell of almonds is a particular trigger for my sensitivities. But it’s mostly just because old books smell gross. I start mouth-breathing if I’m reading an old book, struggling not to inhale its malodorous scent.

I also hate the feel of old books. Pages worn smooth with years of other people’s grimy, disgusting, oily fingers might appeal to romantics. For me, it makes my fingers itchy. When you go to the gym, you wipe down the equipment after using it, so that other people don’t have to deal with your sweat and B.O. But we don’t do the same for books — unfortunately.

No — old books aren’t my thing. New books are where it’s at.

But for those who love new books or ebooks, but also love the musty smell of old books. You can buy candles and scented products that smell like old books. Blech.

Count me out.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Dominating the Freshman. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press and a member of the Indie Erotica Collective. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.


  1. Hmmmm... Good thing you never handle any of my used erotica. Or do you? :>)
    Maybe I could make some cash with this shit if I promise to personally sign them with a... say... a watermark?

  2. Heh, Cameron. Luckily, there are new editions of old book, some on-line (Gutenberg Project).

  3. A lot of old books smell moldy and dusty. When that's true, I definitely agree with you.

    Alas, the books that I brought from America to Asia are almost all stippled with mold these days. And despite my thinking of them as my current library, they're old!

  4. The smell of old (but not moldy) books is the smell of old wood, but it can also be the smell associated with a lifetime of reading, and of the bountiful goodness of libraries. Ah, those memory triggers!

  5. Haha, this post made me laugh. I can like the smell of old books, but there are times when I find it really unpleasant. So I guess I'm a swing vote in this debate? In particular, I've always hated when old books smell like cigarettes or someone's stale floral perfume. I've historically returned library books unread when I realize they smell this way. I can't stand it. You're very right about how signs of other people can be gross—on the other hand, certain sorts of highlights can be very fascinating to me. Maybe it's that I'm more interested in the signs of other minds than other bodies...


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