I was sitting in my library a few nights ago finishing up Chinelo Okparanta’s novel Under the Udala Trees and was pleased to note how the room now thoroughly smells like a lovely used book store. Thankfully no must or mildew, just the smell of old paper and bindings. I first noticed it a few months ago, but I don’t know if it was air movement in the room or what, but every so often as I read the smell would waft up into my nose. I’m guessing most of you are book sniffers, some perhaps more than others. But there are some out there who would mock us.
I used to belong to a book club where there was no set book each month. Everyone would just bring in what they had read recently and then lend the book to others in the room who were interested. Over time some books would get read by most in the group and the discussion about it would flow from month to month. One night at book club someone pointed out how I was opening books and sniffing them. I was a little surprised that they were surprised by this behavior. How can one not sniff a book? There are maybe four or five different basic book smells. Sometimes it’s the paper, sometimes the ink, some smell older and warmer, some smell newer and sharper. Like a bouquet of mixed flowers, the disparate smells don’t compete, but rather come together to create something even better.
So, for this installment of shelf by shelf I am going to tell you what each book smells like. Just kidding, I’m not. That would be crazy.
SHELF SEVEN: 33 books, 21 unread, 12 read, 36% completed
Collins, Wilkie – Iolani; or, Tahiti as it was
This seems to be a relatively new edition of a Collins manuscript that I’m not sure was published in his lifetime. It will be interesting to see if it stands up to his other work.
Crace, Jim – Being Dead
I only know Crace from his snarky takes on fiction that he has recorded for the BBC. At first I didn’t quite understand what he was doing in those snarky takes, but am now mildly amused by them.
Craik, Dinah – John Halifax, Gentleman
Cresswell, Helen – Ordinary Jack (completed)
I first bought and read this book when I was in the 4th grade. I had been given a gift certificate for a small (and short-lived) bookstore in my hometown. For some reason I was drawn to this book by British author Helen Cresswell. Jack’s family is a little eccentric and the book is filled with details of British life that the young me didn’t understand but was somehow still fascinated by. When I came across a copy of it recently, I couldn’t pass it by. I am excited to read it again and see what the adult Anglophile in me thinks of it now.
Crompton, Richmal – Linden Rise (completed)
Crompton, Richmal – Frost at Morning
Crompton, Richmal – Leadon Hill
Crompton, Richmal – Matty and the Dearingroydes (completed)
Fell in love with Family Roundabout by Crompton and have been very interested to read more of her work. When Claire (formerly Paperback Reader) visited DC she brought me three of these. I think I had already stumbled across one of them at some book sale.
Cronin, A.J. – The Northern Light
Cronin, A.J. – The Judas Tree
Cronin, A.J. – Pocketful of Rye
Cronin, A.J. – A Song of Sixpence (completed)
Cronin, A.J. – The Green Years
Not great literature, but Cronin provides good, solid, readable novels, often about doctors.
Cunningham, Michael – Flesh and Blood (completed)
Cunningham, Michael – Specimen Days (completed)
Cunningham, Michael – Land’s End
Cunningham, Michael – By Nightfall (completed)
I really like Cunningham’s work but found his most recent novel, The Snow Queen, annoying enough that I didn’t finish it.
Cusk, Rachel – The Bradshaw Variations
Cusk, Rachel – The Lucky Ones
Cusk, Rachel – Outline (completed)
I picked up Outline in my attempt to read the shortlist for the Bailey’s Prize last year. It turned out to be the one I enjoyed most and one of my favorite books of the year.
Davies, Robertson – The Lyre of Orpheus
Davies, Robertson – The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks
I went through a Davies phase in the late 1990s with the Deptford Trilogy.
Davis, L.J. – A Meaningful Life
Delafield, E.M. – Diary of a Provincial Lady (completed)
Delafield, E.M. – The Provincial Lady in London (completed)
Delafield, E.M. – The Provincial Lady in America (completed)
Dermout, Maria – The Ten Thousand Things
Dickens, Monica – Joy and Josephine
Dickens, Monica – The Happy Prisoner (completed)
Dickens, Monica – Kate and Emma
Dickens, Monica – The Landlord’s Daughter
Dickens, Monica – No More Meadows
Dickens, Monica – Cobbler’s Dream
Dickens, Monica – The Listeners
NEXT TIME: Dinesen to Findley