Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I'm a connoisseur of all the local charity shops.
And the best ones around here are invariably for charities I've never heard of.
There's the Shop with the Scary Ladies; we are all too intimidated to leave donations here in case we fail to meet their exacting standards.
There's the Cheap Charity Shop a few doors further down the road; not as cheap as it used to be since they cottoned on that dealers were buying from them, but still cheapest by far for books.
And that's where I found a copy of Proust yesterday - Swann's Way, the first volume of Á la recherche du temps perdu - for 20p.
I've been promising myself that I'd try this again ever since I finished The Hare with Amber Eyes and realised that Charles Ephrussi was a model for Swann.
I haven't read Proust since I was a student and fancied the idea of myself as a cultured young lady who read very long books. And I got through this first volume (and quite a lot of Ulysses, and nearly all of War and Peace) and can't remember very much about any of them.
That 20p bargain shouted to me that this was the time ...
But am I ready to dunk my madeleine into my tisane - or even my KitKat into my mug of Yorkshire Brew - whilst reading a paperback that seems to have been kippered in a home where its previous owner smoked like a chimney? (Funny how you never notice a book's musty smell before you get it home.)
Maybe I should have waited for a more salubrious copy?
Or can I sip that tisane while holding my nose?


Darlene said...

Oh I hate that! Books that practically cough themselves for being so full of the odour of tobacco.

Try leaving your copy of Proust standing upright with the pages fanned out near a window with a strong breeze. Perhaps a spritz of something nice might help as well...or make your book smell like a cheap dance hall. Good luck, Mary!

mary said...

I did wonder if an airing outside might help, Darlene. And you're a librarian ...

Noelle said...

To Mrs. Miniver's Daughter:
You are truly a riot and I hope you will continue to 'regale' us with more of your musings!
The following was noted online however:
'There is no guaranteed way to remove the musty smell from old books, but there is a strategy that may be successful.
The first step is to create an enclosed chamber. This is most easily done by using two plastic bags, a large and a small. The object to be "deodorized" should be placed in the smaller bag, which is then
placed inside the larger bag. Some type of odor-absorbing material should then be placed in the bottom of the larger bag. Odor-absorbing materials to try include baking soda, charcoal briquettes (without lighter fluid), or kitty litter. Close the larger larger, and the
chamber should be left for some time. You will need to monitor periodically to see how long the materials need to be left inside the chamber.

I hope this is of some help. I don't think freezing or interleaving with
newsprint will do anything. Fresh air and sunshine might help - fan the books (by standing on edge) so all the pages are exposed. Please refrain from spraying with Lysol - if you are handling anything of value it would be best to steer clear of chemicals, including ozone (often used to 'deodorize' collections on a large scale; ozone is a chemical initiator and will hasten deterioration of your collections).

I have heard that this might work for smoke or cigarette smell also.

I have also heard to use fabric softener sheets, but I think this is more of a cover than a cure. Another cure I found is to leave the book in your car in the hot sun. The heat will be intense and dry, two things mold hates.

Do be careful though because mold can travel from one book to another.'


mary said...

Gosh, Noelle, thanks for the tip but it sounds more trouble than this particular musty paperback is worth ... not a very nice copy even if it wasn't smelly!
I expect I'll dip into it and if Proust and I make any progress, maybe I'll treat myself to a nicer one. I might even rise to 50p! The 50p shelf is really quite classy.

Noelle said...

Mary, I only wish books were still 50 p here!
Loved your review of West Side Story! It brought back souvenirs of George Chakiris!
Oh my...

mary said...

Noelle, it is the one we call the Cheap Charity Shop, it's a fraction of the price of any of the others.
George Chakiris ... wasn't he gorgeous! I know he got an Oscar, but I don't think he was in anything very special afterwards, was he? I can't tell you how much I loved seeing it on the big screen, such a different experience.