Allergic to reading? Maybe it’s just the books

Keeping old volumes dust-free and dry will help them to stay in good shape for years to come.

As a generally allergy-prone person, I know what it's like to open a book and immediately sneeze. When I was in school, I sometimes felt like I was allergic to studying, since trying to read an old, musty-smelling book felt like an impossible task.

Eventually, I learned to choose the newest-looking copy of a book, and to avoid studying in a dust-filled library that was likely to get my symptoms going. Not all old books make me sneeze though, particularly well-cared-for volumes were a pleasure to read, since I got to enjoy their lool (and the words of the author) without the company of a box of tissues.

And since I love to read, I decided to look up some ways I could best care for books so that my own library didn't become an allergy zone.

The enemies to books (and factors likely to aggravate your allergies) are light, dust, and moisture. It's best to try to find a dim corner of your house to keep your bookshelf, as limiting their exposure to light will help to keep books and covers from fading.

The easiest way to limit dust and moisture is to keep air circulating with an electric fan. Do your best to make sure that your library feels comfortable as well. Experts say that books hold up best when they are kept between 65 and 70 degrees. An electric heater and air conditioner will not only make your reading room more relaxing, but they can help your books stay in good shape too.

Lastly, it's always a good idea to limit moisture with a dehumidifier. Turning this machine on can help to keep your books from getting mildewed or musty smelling, and keep your pages from becoming damp or brittle. Books do best when they are in a room with less than 40 percent humidity. 

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