"There I was, reading On Opera by the late philosopher Bernard Williams, and I was suddenly transported back to my childhood. How so? Because of the way it smelled. I must have subconsciously caught a whiff, which led me to put the open book right up to my nose and breathe in deeply. Cue the mental equivalent of a cheesy dissolve in a cheap TV drama: suddenly I'm nine years old again. And somehow the odour links to a very specific set of books: Susan Cooper's magnificent The Dark Is Rising series. (Kids these days who have to make do with Harry Potter don't know they're born.)
How to describe why one book smells nicer than another? I could burble on about the Williams book's hints of musk, fresh grass, and topnotes of vanilla, but you can see that I'd never make it as a wine writer."