rein2Jonathan Reinarz, author of Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell, recently wrote a piece on his love of books and his work in sensory history for Books Combined, the blog of the UIP’s representative in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Obsession and olfaction: scent and the seduction of books

I have an unusually short attention span. This is not a good thing, especially for anyone contemplating a PhD, as I was in the mid-1990s. ‘You don’t need to be smart to do a PhD’, my supervisor initially advised me, ‘you just need to work hard’, and I soon grasped what she meant by that somewhat backhanded comment. From the outset, students have to work hard not to be distracted by the university environment, not least campus life. Those studying in the 1990s were particularly vulnerable to all those books and journals they’d stumble across while scouring libraries in a way few students do in today’s digital age. Put more evocatively by my late grandfather, ‘books are more addictive than drugs’.

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