As a child reared by working parents in a bookstore, the booksellers who worked in that store on Main Street, in the 1960s, seemed as much like family to me as the large group of Weller relatives I encountered on my grandparents’ farm and at family reunions. I was an only child and the array of creative thinkers who worked in the bookstore fascinated me. I would not realize for a few decades what unique and special persons they were and, as I constructed my view of the world, I perceived them as ordinary—a confusing state which would lead to disappointments and eventually, cause me to find purpose and comfort in the tribe of the book people.

My father, Sam Weller, put me to work when I was 10 years old. From then through high school, I enjoyed the conversation and culture of the booksellers who worked in our family’s bookstore—30 or 40 of them. I looked up to my parents’ young employees—boomers and hippies—and their culture, books, art, and music shaped my cultural progress. Their influence on my youth was immense. Many became my friends.

Persons who choose to work in bookstores are good readers. But independent reading makes one unusual as exposure to diverse ideas compels refinement of one’s own. By selecting books, readers curate their own minds and spirits. A reader’s experiences are barely affected by time and space. Culture may blame readers for their independence. This idealist believes the world would be a better place if every belief were so privately achieved.

Since the 1970s, I have worked with hundreds of booksellers. They are my tribe and I love many of them. Now, I am a senior member of our bookselling staff. I really miss my parents and my seniors and mentors but I get new joy and value from younger booksellers. Their reading, taste, and ideas inspire me. I am fortunate to work with smart and curious young persons. Meeting them is my daily pleasure. I am still receiving influence.