Tag Archives: boman desai

Fresh or Wilted?

30 Jul

June brings the musty smell of earth as the clouds burst open, pouring their stack on the scorched land. The smell conjures up another pleasant memory: beginning of another academic year.

Textbooks, workbooks, notebooks, rolls of brown paper, and of course, labels. Every book was crisp, fresh from the presses. The whole family sat down to carry out the ritual of neatly covering every book with the brown paper so the books could endure the soggy downpours, chilly winds and dry heat throughout the year.

Taylor at Men with Pens relishes old books.

There’s something about a used book smell. It’s like the opposite of car-buying. For cars, you want the new-car smell. For books, you want that smell that says other people have read these pages before, that they have loved them, and that so will you.

I have slowly built an assorted collection of books over the last decade and care for them dearly. Transparent plastic sleeves garment my novels and non-fiction collection. This has helped them survive a scary termite infestation in my loft bedroom. The collection also has some memorable textbooks on Philosophy and Literature from college.

Like Harry Potter’s Advanced Potion Making textbook which had useful notes scribbled in the margins by the Half Blood Prince, used reference books are a delightful find. Tablets and eReaders cannot replicate the joy of finding nuggets of information, like highlighted sentences, dialogues marked ‘IMP’ and meaning of meandering dialogues (especially Shakespearean) so that just reading the notes was enough to get a gist of the chapter.

I feel most sorry for books which are falling apart. A tattered copy of ‘The Memory of Elephants’ by Boman Desai managed only one cautious read, held together by paper binder clips. Although I loved the book, and even told him so when I met him during a book reading for another author, I couldn’t find another copy of the book.

Two tattered copies of The Human Bondage I picked from Flora Fountain, the treasure-trove of used and antique books in Bombay were carefully stored and read over and over, until I was able to find an unharmed hard bound copy at Blossoms Book House.

The agglomeration is still expanding, but at an inert rate, but I’m not complaining. O’Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi & other stories’ along with Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’, leather-bound volumes printed in 1984. Collector copies.