Smell it. Ohio Soil. Humus.


Spent the day in Cambridge Library.

The Library a wilderness of books. The volumes of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, which lie so near on the shelf, are rarely opened, are effectually forgotten and not implied by our literature and newspapers. When I looked into Purchas’s Pilgrims, it affected me like looking into an impassable swamp, ten feet deep with sphagnum, where the monarchs of the forest, covered with mosses and stretched along the ground, were making haste to become peat. Those old books suggested a certain fertility, an Ohio soil, as if they were making a humus for new literatures to spring in. I heard the bellowing of bullfrogs and the hum of mosquitoes reverberating through the thick embossed covers when I had closed the book. Decayed literature makes the richest of all soils.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861

Source: Brainpickings


  1. there is great magic in books.

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  2. Glorious words that evoke the senses!

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  3. I don’t care for the musty smell, but old books are fascinating, even to make us aware of how times have changed when we read what the world was like “way back then.”

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  4. The adventure of engagement, happens when an Initial discovery by a library patron makes a re -discovery of the gift of a written, recorded past…the mind travels to a moment in distant time. so different from current day… Reading can ignite interest opening up so many catacombs to explore and satisfy the quest for knowledge, The influence, of the written word, as I have found, is thought provoking & adventurous. My favorite place to read is out in the busy, yet peaceful, beautiful, fragrant summer garden where life does not pass by…but intrigues…

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  5. One of my favorite memories of my time at the University of Florida is hiding in the stacks for hours, randomly pulling old, sometimes crumbling volumes off the shelves and losing myself in the silence and smell.

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  6. Christie says:

    Hi, Dave If you haven’t seen the movie, The Book Thief” I recommend it. This is an amazing book store, new and used… brick and mortar and online:

    Liked by 1 person

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