I love opening a new book and taking a big whiff of fresh ink. Nothing delights a bibliophile’s nose more than a hardcover that still smells like the printing press. Except, perhaps, a dusty antique paperback that promises a world apart. But what if the Grapes of Wrath actually smelled like cheap wine? Or Tom Perrotta’s Little Children really gave off the scent of baby wipes? Or Stephen King’s Pet Sematary actually exuded the odor of my son’s hamster cage? Bookstores would have to invest in potpourri, if not clothespins. Just for fun, here are 14 classics reimagined as scratch-and-sniff books:
The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
I’d like to think that The Life of Pi would smell like rhubarb or banana cream or mincemeat or even a chicken pot. But since we’re talking “Pi” and not “pie,” this book simply smells like math. And what does math smell like? Fear. Acrid fear. Also known as the failed antiperspirant of a creative writing major. (How do I know this? I just do.)
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
Probably mint. Or wintergreen. Or dentures.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
What do you get when you combine African mange, eye of newt, and an Anthropologie sachet? This children’s classic in olfactory form.
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
Ham. A small, stabbed ham.
The Tortilla Curtain, by T.C. Boyle
Mmmm. Nothing beats the sweet smell of Chipotle! Urban Outfitters may actually sell tortilla curtains for dorm rooms, guaranteed to attract new suitors and raccoons! (Side question: Is the sequel to The Tortilla Curtain, The Barbacoa Bedspread? Because I would eat that up.)
Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
Wheaties and a Bloody Mary.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Beef jerky, Red Bull, and gasoline. With a soupçon of feet.
The World According to Garp, by John Irving
Well, it depends on the recipe you’re going by, but most trail mixes involve peanuts, raisins, and M&M’s. Personally, I like slivered almonds and a few dried aprico…Wait. What? GARP? Not gorp? Well. I have no idea what “garp” smells like, but I’m going with lake trout that’s been left in a hot car for a few days.
Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen
A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain, by Robert Olen Butler
Pert Plus? Sugar cookies? Freshly cut grass? Chanel No. 5? Sausage calzone? Please say it’s a sausage calzone, because that would make me feel a lot better about this questionable ski vacation.
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
Liquid Paper. In fact, if you scratch and sniff this one too many times in study hall, you may get sent to detention. Or so I hear.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
This smells like a fried ham-and-cheese sandwich with a side of jam. Better known as those fifteen pounds I gained in college at that godforsaken deli.
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
Ahhh. Behold the aroma of the perfect martini, with just a hint of lemon and a pimiento-stuffed oliver.
Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Whitman’s sampler and…you know what? Let’s stop right there.
What book would you like (or not like) to read in scratch-and-sniff form?