Anyway, smells are hard to do justice to in writing. And they matter. You know that whole thing about how smell is the sense most closely connected to memory? Imagine successfully triggering that as a writer. Dang.
So. The smell. My main character loves the smell of old books just like I do, coincidentally. And I was trying to explain why, but to show it, not tell it. I wrote this from my MC's point-of-view as I toyed around with a new opening:
The dust from books smells different than any other kind of dust, somehow rich but not quite sweet. Vanilla. Book dust smells like regular dust with a hint of vanilla.
Guess what. I'M TOTALLY RIGHT. So says Mental Floss right here, and I quote:
“A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness” is how an international team of chemists describes the unique odor of old books in a study.
Did you see that? VANILLA.