Should books smell like café latte?

by Cygne Sauvage

At the start of summer vacation for public schools in the country where I am based, I was pressured to accede to a family friend’s request to accommodate her daughter as a student trainee.  The 17-year old lass is on her way to the final year of senior high school in the succeeding term.  Her mother boasted that her third female offspring is knowledgeable in computer where she spends most of her time.

Interviewing the student-trainee  reveals her  deficiency in communicating both in verbal and written form.  When asked what book she has read during the last year, apart from what they were required in their homework,  she proudly responded that she is into The Diary of the Wimpy Kid. I told her that that’s way below her education level, and unashamedly she said that she enjoyed it because of the simple words and the pictures, an easy read.   When I queried what books they were required to read in school, she groped for an answer, and then suddenly remembered that their readings were those posted by their teachers on their tablets, which every student is required to own one.

This millennial girl could be the typical student, not the exception. Despite the advancement in communications technology, these young peoples’ capability to correspond or exchange ideas has been hampered by the pre-designed repartees facilitated by electronics and social media. In everything, from how to respond in situations to expressing one’s feelings, a certain emoticon is ready to be pressed to match it. Words are lost, real emotions uncaptured, remains repressed.

The gift of communications is honed by diligent reading. Social media has likewise summarized everything in pictures. Electronic books pose no attraction as they’re just a bunch of words.

There must be an effective way of motivating young people to read books. Libraries and bookstores must present alluring atmospheres that would draw them like ants to a drop of honey. Should we make books smell like café latte’ since millennials crowd coffee houses? Incidentally, an article in Popular Science says that “old books actually smell like chocolate and coffee.” Read it here:  http://www.popsci.com/old-book-smell#page-3

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