That unmistakable aroma you get when you open a well-loved tome is a result of chemistry. As a book ages, the glue, paper, and ink begin to break down and release volatile compounds. A study in 2009 found that the chemical makeup of a book’s aroma consisted of hundreds of these compounds, giving it an organic mustiness with grassy notes. One main compound is lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper. Lignin is closely related to vanillin, which is what lends that faint, comforting smell of vanilla. No wonder curling up with an old book and a cup of tea sounds so inviting.
[…] you’re transported back to that old movie house where you had your first date. Or you smell the signature odor of books, and you’re wandering the stacks of your hometown library in your mind…what is this wizardry? […]