Grass & Vanilla Notes

Towards the end of each year, I clean the  bookshelves in my study.I am unable to devote much time earlier because I guess I have too many books; I am perpetually buying them or someone or the other is gifting them to me.Then there are all these tragically mundane things to do everyday, you know like eat,sleep,shower,go to work etc, which do not leave me anytime to spring clean my books.Because, you see,its such a pleasurable activity and so damn exhilarating, that I prefer to reserve a special time for it.I wouldn’t want to just do it as a chore.Its like a sacred ritual to me because my books bring back so many memories.The place I bought them from or the person who gifted them to me or the weather at that time or my mood at that moment…so many little and big stories of my life are so intricately and intrinsically connected to my books and to who I am.In a sense, they are my identity.
Of course, I love that lovely fragrance of old books too! I wish I could bottle it up and wear it as perfume.Just as I would like to bottle up certain memories.That fragrance of old books is  a mix of Grass and Vanilla. In 2009, a study was conducted and the leading scientist, Matija Strlic,found that the complex scent was a mix of “hundreds of so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air from the paper”. You must admit that grass & vanilla is an unbeatable combination.In a perfume , I mean 😀
 Carl Sagan says “What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”
The sacred ritual of cleaning and dusting also involves picking up ten titles that I will re-read to ‘finish’ by end January. Why ten ? Because of the legendary Diego Maradona who I love.Sometimes I feel part of the awesomeness of Messi comes from Maradona’s  mythical 10!

But let me come to why I re-read. Italo Calvino in ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler’ says ”at every rereading I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time. Is it I who keep changing and seeing new things of which I was not previously aware? Or is reading a construction that assumes form, assembling a great number of variables, and therefore something that cannot be repeated twice according to the same pattern? Every time I seek to relive the emotion of a previous reading, I experience different and unexpected impressions, and do not find again those of before.” This stimulation of the mind and the birth of joy by a kind of  shadowy, deja-vu feeling is very comforting.Its like talking to a dear,old friend.And I get that nostalgic feeling which Salinger says ;”What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

Ok, so I have picked out the ten titles which I shall re-read.
1.The Outsider: Albert Camus
2.One Hundred Years of Solitude:Gabriel Garcia Marquez
3.Humboldt’s Gift: Saul Bellow
4.Siddhartha: Herman Hesse
5.Sophie’s World: Jostein Gaarder
6.Orientalism: Edward W Said
7.The City of Joy:  Dominique Lapiere
8.The Sunday Gentlemen:Irving Wallace
9.Captain Correli’s Mandolin:Louis de Bernières
10.The Plague:Albert Camus
Happy reading guys…and happier re-reading too! So Calvino says ” What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space”. Erm..that got your attention ? 😉
And yeah, listen to this too:  Dedicated to a beloved half-breed in my life who is a warrior…a true friend… whose heart is as pure as Uncas…the Last of The Mohicans. Just Morrison-ed you, fella….you are the cosmic mate 🙂

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