Sensual Smells and the Memories They Bring

Isn’t it strange how our sense of smell can affect us? We step out on the patio and smell the smoke from the barbecue grill and think, “Yum.” And if the grass has just been cut, don’t you love that smell? Whatever fragrance you select as your own–Chanel No.5, White Diamonds, Opium–usually brings back memories. As long as I can remember, my mother wore Chanel No. 5 and to this day its fragrance makes me think of her. And, of course, Old Spice was Daddy’s choice.

Of course, there are other smells that are not quite so elegant that, perhaps, do not elicit happy thoughts…like dirty, sweaty tennis shoes. Like wet puppies. Like broccoli cooking!

I have had this obsession with smells for a long time. Even as a child, I can remember getting nauseous
on a driving trip through the Arizona desert where the air was heavy with that sweet sickening cactus smell. But one smell that always makes me happy is that wonderful musty smell of an old bookstore. You know, the smell that envelopes you when you set foot in Larry McMurtry’s book stores filled with books that have been hot off the presses many years ago. I have often thought how great it would be to bottle that smell and sell it. Or perhaps, just hoard it for my own use.

Those who know me know that I eschew these new-fangled things that are taking the place of books in the hand. Instead of reading a good book in bed, you have the opportunity to read on your computer or your Kindle or Iphone using stanza. How can that be any fun? Not only do you lose the sensory perception of holding that book and turning the pages, there is absolutely no noticeable aroma at all. It is like reading off a blackboard.

Well, I have great news for those of use who yearn for the smells that make us happy or that bring back happy thoughts. Some genius has created the answer in an aerosol can. The e-book enhancer is called “Smell of Books” and looks something like a can of hairspray. You can choose between the “New Book Smell” and the “Classic Musty Smell.” How great is that? A few squirts around the room and you are set to go. You can be transported to the store of new books or the store of old books within a few seconds. Check it out at

Of course, this clever approach also can be applied to other scents beyond the bookshelves. For instance, how about the spray, “Eau, You Have Cats.” Or the kitchen version of “Crunchy Bacon Scent” or “Burned Toast.” Even those sweaty tennis shoes, wet puppies or broccoli cooking could be pressurized, I suppose. Or the floor wax they used to put on the schoolhouse floor. Or popcorn!

And remember how we used to talk about that new car smell and how we wish we could bottle it? Well, someone has been working on that. It is not in an aerosol can but packaged in a small packet to put under the seat of the car and let that “New Car Smell” waft away. Now what will they think of next? Perhaps the smell of new money. Oh, yes!

Carolyn Gilbert