Smelly Books.

By alison April 10, 2006 29 Comments 2 Min Read

Brocantehome

I buy old books. Lots of them. I can’t help it and as an addiction, it’s right up there with my compulsive need to buy magazines. Even on the days we can barely afford food.

So I choke in the dust in secondhand bookshops run by mad old men, harass spinster ladies in the Oxfam book shop and  root about on my hands and knees for literary treasure of the domestic kind. Then I take them home and pile them up adoringly, before  taking them to bed and swallowing up their wisdom. And all the time I  try to pretend that for the most part,  old books don’t smell worse than Marks  feet.

But they do, don’t they? Sometimes the stink is outrageous, permeating the air with every turn of the  page. So what to do?  Baking soda and talcum powder only go half way to eradicating the familiar scent that is caused by the degradation of old paper  and wafting them with linen spray is a very expensive business. So I’ve hit on a new sure fire method of banishing offensive odours that doesn’t involve the dreaded Febreze.

I sprinkle the books with baking soda. Then pop them into a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for two days. Then I wrap them in scented paper, and leave them in a drawer for a day or so, et voila! Books that smell like they were printed yesterday.

The thing to remember is this: everytime we bring something into our homes we add to the occasionally malodorous concoction that is a well lived life. Some days, particuarly if we are really enjoying our homes, keeping the air fresh is an ongoing battle.   
Everything contributes to the way our house smells. We know that every little fleamarket find has to, in some way be caressed back to loveliness and vintage books are no different- so if they are not to contanimate the lavender scented air we breathe with their inherent musty dustiness, then it is worth taking the time to make them smell as scrumptious as the rest of the house.

It isn’t too much bother.

Other Things To Do At BrocanteHome

29 Comments

  1. Joanne says:

    Oh, can I ever relate!
    I am also a vintage/old book lover and have done exactly what you say…on my hands and knees so that I won't miss one good title/copy! I have a fine collection which will get divided and passed along to my four children when they are ready to 'fly the coop'!
    Thanks for the great tip and hope that your cupboards aren't too bare with all those fabulous finds!
    Joanne
    P.S. Get well wishes from me are posted below in your 'sick' entry…Get Well Soon!

  2. Joanne says:

    Oh, can I ever relate!
    I am also a vintage/old book lover and have done exactly what you say…on my hands and knees so that I won't miss one good title/copy! I have a fine collection which will get divided and passed along to my four children when they are ready to 'fly the coop'!
    Thanks for the great tip and hope that your cupboards aren't too bare with all those fabulous finds!
    Joanne
    P.S. Get well wishes from me are posted below in your 'sick' entry…Get Well Soon!

  3. As someone who seems to entering her second childhood, I can sympathize.Not content with reading the new editions of my old favourites, I seek out the ones that were new when I read them the first time.Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome do pong a little, but Oh! they are so worth it.

  4. As someone who seems to entering her second childhood, I can sympathize.Not content with reading the new editions of my old favourites, I seek out the ones that were new when I read them the first time.Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome do pong a little, but Oh! they are so worth it.

  5. Rhiannon says:

    Can you photograph and scan some of the interesting books for your library!?
    What I want to find from the UK is STACKS of 1930's Stitchcraft magazine. Help?!

  6. Rhiannon says:

    Can you photograph and scan some of the interesting books for your library!?
    What I want to find from the UK is STACKS of 1930's Stitchcraft magazine. Help?!

  7. Tracy says:

    Ummm….I knew I was wierd. I actually like that "distinctive" smell of old books. When I told my husband I wanted to buy a turn of the century house, he said, "Sure, just as long as it doesn't have that old house smell." I like that smell too.

  8. Tracy says:

    Ummm….I knew I was wierd. I actually like that "distinctive" smell of old books. When I told my husband I wanted to buy a turn of the century house, he said, "Sure, just as long as it doesn't have that old house smell." I like that smell too.

  9. Cookie says:

    I knew a lady once who loved old books and her solution was to put them out on a table in direct sunshinefor a whole day or two. I think her reason was to "disinfect" them from germs..lol…but either way, it seemed to do the trick. 🙂

  10. Cookie says:

    I knew a lady once who loved old books and her solution was to put them out on a table in direct sunshinefor a whole day or two. I think her reason was to "disinfect" them from germs..lol…but either way, it seemed to do the trick. 🙂

  11. Savannah says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tip!!! Is there really a book called Brocante Home???? How cool!

  12. Savannah says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tip!!! Is there really a book called Brocante Home???? How cool!

  13. Kerry says:

    Such a handy hint … Who'd have thought? Good to see you're back.

  14. Kerry says:

    Such a handy hint … Who'd have thought? Good to see you're back.

  15. Kerry says:

    Oh … and do you actually read these old books Ali … or just have them around looking pretty and wise?!?

  16. Kerry says:

    Oh … and do you actually read these old books Ali … or just have them around looking pretty and wise?!?

  17. Carol says:

    "And all the time I try to pretend that for the most part, old books don't smell worse than Marks feet."
    PMSL @ this Alison!
    Thanks for the good tips to make old books smell better. I just got some old books and I really don't like their smell!
    Btw I'm all with you concerning the compulsive need to buy scrumptious magazines, even if sometimes I know I should better invest the money in food lol

  18. Carol says:

    "And all the time I try to pretend that for the most part, old books don't smell worse than Marks feet."
    PMSL @ this Alison!
    Thanks for the good tips to make old books smell better. I just got some old books and I really don't like their smell!
    Btw I'm all with you concerning the compulsive need to buy scrumptious magazines, even if sometimes I know I should better invest the money in food lol

  19. now that is a trick I am going to do! Who would have thought! I wonder if all my old books can fit in our freezer? If i have to pick fresh food or new books, it will be fresh food. If I have to pick Frozen food or frozen books it will be frozen books plus ice cream!

  20. now that is a trick I am going to do! Who would have thought! I wonder if all my old books can fit in our freezer? If i have to pick fresh food or new books, it will be fresh food. If I have to pick Frozen food or frozen books it will be frozen books plus ice cream!

  21. Rosemary says:

    I too am obsessed with books and buy them from every source I can,Amazon marketplace and Alibris turn up many out of print household,cookery,gardening and countryside books.Magazines also I buy even when short of money like you I cannot get enough of them.But I love the old book smell!

  22. Rosemary says:

    I too am obsessed with books and buy them from every source I can,Amazon marketplace and Alibris turn up many out of print household,cookery,gardening and countryside books.Magazines also I buy even when short of money like you I cannot get enough of them.But I love the old book smell!

  23. Yeah I love old books too. Your idea is brilliant – I'm going to try it straight away!

  24. Yeah I love old books too. Your idea is brilliant – I'm going to try it straight away!

  25. denise says:

    I do the plastic bag in freezer bit, but for a week or more, and have never used the baking soda, but the longer time seems to work. Don't know where to get scented paper — I close 'em up in an airtight container with a cotton ball good and damp with lavender or other scented oil. For a while. Sometimes a long time. Sometimes I forget about them and come across them when I'm looking for something else — like discovering them all over again, only better smelling!

  26. denise says:

    I do the plastic bag in freezer bit, but for a week or more, and have never used the baking soda, but the longer time seems to work. Don't know where to get scented paper — I close 'em up in an airtight container with a cotton ball good and damp with lavender or other scented oil. For a while. Sometimes a long time. Sometimes I forget about them and come across them when I'm looking for something else — like discovering them all over again, only better smelling!

  27. denise says:

    I do the plastic bag in freezer bit, but for a week or more, and have never used the baking soda, but the longer time seems to work. Don’t know where to get scented paper — I close ’em up in an airtight container with a cotton ball good and damp with lavender or other scented oil. For a while. Sometimes a long time. Sometimes I forget about them and come across them when I’m looking for something else — like discovering them all over again, only better smelling!

  28. kaileigh says:

    hi, I have a question, I'm 16, and a total germaphobe. I had just recently bought some old books, and I was so excited, but now I'm scared to read them incase they have some weird ancient disease. Is there any way to clean them/ disenfect them. Sorry if thats a stupid question.

  29. kaileigh says:

    hi, I have a question, I'm 16, and a total germaphobe. I had just recently bought some old books, and I was so excited, but now I'm scared to read them incase they have some weird ancient disease. Is there any way to clean them/ disenfect them. Sorry if thats a stupid question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *