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.