The Smell of Old Books

Do you love the smell of an old book? Just finished a delightful rereading Out of the Silent Planet, Space Trilogy Series, the first C. S. Lewis fiction I read when I was a new teenage Christian in 1970 (The Problem of Pain was my first Lewis nonfiction). It’s the first of his space trilogy, and I’m about to read again Perelandra (alternative Brit title: Voyage to Venus).

I have several editions of Out of the Silent Planet. But I just read an old hardcover—check out its jacket and the stamped date and school identity on the inside. I looked up Portsmouth School for Boys and felt an actual connection to its history while reading the book. No offense to ebooks and Kindle, which have their place, but there’s no substitute for a book that has an actual history, that takes up space on a shelf, that has been somewhere, strapped to the back of a bike, that was being read in a British boys’ school library while Lewis was still teaching at Oxford.

Thank you, Lord, for books. Not just the words, but actual physical books you can hold in your hand and touch and smell, and ponder where they have been and what lives they may have touched. (A Texas physician once told me that a single copy of my novel Deadline was read by eight of his patients who he then led to Christ after discussing the book.)

I wonder if on the New Earth our Lord may pull out some actual physical books that he will preserve from the purging fire on the old earth, and let us see their history and impact. Old Bibles with notes in the margin, great books that touched a long line of people, who we will meet and enjoy dinner with.

Maybe something else to look forward to in the presence of our King. And to enjoy with a resurrected sense of smell.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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