Nothing beats the smell of books

Always Write

Darby Hinkley

It’s been too long, folks.

The last Alpena News Newspapers In Education Book Sale was in that dreaded year 2020. Then we all hibernated for two ugly, lonely years, and here we are, in February 2023. How did that even happen? I feel at least a decade older than I was in early 2020.

But books. Let’s talk about books.

When people hear me say we have 12,000 to 15,000 books to sell, they must think “Wow!” That’s what I think, too. Wow! Our community came through to donate all these books! The Alpena News staff, from pressmen to mailroom crew to delivery drivers to front office staff and everyone in between, took time to help sort through the books, organize them by category, and deliver them by truckload to the APlex, where they are being resorted and organized while you read this column. Volunteers from community organizations, including but not limited to the Youth Volunteer Corps and the Alpena High School Robotics Team 5505, have lent a cheerful helping hand when it was needed most to make this year’s event a success! The event is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, in conjunction with the Business Expo. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s already a success because I’m enjoying the process and the positive teamwork energy that is happening leading up to the event. I truly believe that your attitude about an event determines the outcome. If you think it’s gonna rock, it will. Even if some hiccups happen, keep your overall mindset rockin’ and you’ll do just fine! As long as you’ve put in the prep work, that is. You have to be prepared, and that we are. We are ready to welcome you to book heaven!

Some people might walk into a room filled with 15,000 unboxed books and think it’s overwhelming. I think it’s enchanting. Where have these books been? Whose hands have they been in? What secrets do they hold? What can I learn? Where do I start? When can I quit my job and just read books forever and never leave my house again? OK, I got lost in my head there for a sec. My bad.

I can’t decide which I like better — opening a brand spankin’ new book that creaks because it’s literally never been opened before, or opening a vintage book with oodles of history pouring out of its seams. Both smells are better than fresh chocolate chip cookies, if you ask me. Of course, as a journalist, I enjoy strange smells. My top two are fresh ink from the printing press and that new film smell when you pop the top off the film canister when film was an actual thing.

New book smell beats new car smell any day. It wants you to make it yours. Smudge it. Crease it. Love it. Drool on it, if you like. It’s yours. Your precious. I’m very careful with my books. The only dog ears in my house are on my dogs.

As for old book smell, that makes me feel like I’m in an elementary library. I can hear the manual pencil sharpener going. I can smell the chalk. I can feel the anticipation before the bell. I wonder if Tommy will say hi to me in the hallway. Will I say hi back? Should I write him a note? What would I even say? I shouldn’t write him a note. He should write me a note. What would he say? What would I say back?

“Darby … Darby?”

Oh no! What was the question?

Yep, that was me in elementary school. And today. I have a very active imagination, and my attention span is spotty. But can you blame me? Isn’t that why books come in so many genres? There’s something for absolutely everyone!

In case you’re curious, we will have sections featuring all your favorite best-selling novelists, from Stephen King (my personal fave) to John Grisham to Patricia Cornwell, and many, many more. In addition to fiction and non-fiction, sections include Alpena, biography, business, children’s, Christmas, classics, cooking, crafting, finance, gardening, health, history, hobby, humor, mystery, poetry, religion, romance, science fiction, self-help, travel, western, and more. In addition to books, which will be $1 per paperback and $2 per hardcover, you will find many audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, and even some VHS tapes. Some items are brand new and unopened!

No matter what you’re looking for, it’s worth a stop in, if only for those feel-good smells.

Darby Hinkley can be found sniffing books, old and new, and the occasional Sharpie, in lieu of Kodak film. To reach her, send a handwritten note to 130 Park Place, Alpena MI 49707.


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