Enjoying Books Together
Weller Book Works, formerly Sam Weller’s Books and founded as Zion Bookstore, has been selling books since August, 1929—that’s 93 years in 2022. No special celebrations this year. We are happy to continue serving your reading desires. Thank you for supporting us.
One of my favorite things about my family is that we share interest in books. Catherine and I started reading to our baby within days of her birth, back in the 1990s. We built a list of books to read and read books that were way over her baby head. For a brief while, we read whatever one of us was reading for ourselves, out-loud together in the evenings. We understood that a baby’s linguistic development begins very early, long before an infant can make words or demonstrate comprehension. So when we hit a rather explicit passage in Henry Miller’s Sexus one evening when baby was about six months old, we built the juvenile program. Our child chose age appropriate books during days, but evenings were reserved for family books; before entering pre-school, she had heard Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. She heard the first few Oz books and Robinson Crusoe. We read The Water Babies and Back of the West Wind. She entered pre-school with a large vocabulary and she spoke in whole sentences.
By three or four, our daughter was obviously engrossed in the whole stories in our books. We read Narnia and Harry Potter. I especially loved Inkheart and The Secret Garden, which I had not previously read. The family shared these stories and we were always on the same page. In about fourth grade, our daughter rebelled against the reading program. I felt desperate, made strong assertions, and proposed a new program to keep us reading together. Henceforth, we took turns picking family reading books.
By her high school years, we were reading mostly adult books. We kept reading as a family, almost nightly, until our daughter was in her second year of college and other concerns filled her time. Nineteen years of family story time had ended for us but my sense of loss did not strike me until our wonderful child left our home.
Not long after that, our lives and the world were thrown into new chaos as we confronted the coronavirus pandemic. We closed the bookstore for safety on March 28th, 2020. Covid-19 disruptions exacerbated numerous other signs of societal deterioration and brought most of us to new levels of insecurity. I found myself in surreal fugue with a gathering sense that the dull inertia of culture could be so immovable that…that… By the end of April, Catherine and I decided we would resume story time without the child. The first book we selected was Don Quixote which we finished that October.
We do not find time to read each and every day but on most evenings we still read together. We take turns picking books and find ourselves on the same page. I love out tradition and encourage anyone who has housemates to consider reading together. We read Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchism and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. We recently read Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, then Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses. Maybe we will finish Gravity’s Rainbow before 2023.
Collectors’ Book Salons
Hello. Maybe you attended the last Collectors’ Book Salon we hosted before Comid-19 struck and we all went into hiding. It occurred in February 2020 and featured professor, author, reader, friend, and erudite raconteur John Reed speaking about his lifetime of military reading. If you weren’t there, you don’t know his presentation took surprising turns. Maybe you attended the first Collectors’ Book Salon we hosted in June 2012. I gave the inaugural Collector’s Chat: Readers as Vanguards of Revolution, during which I showed several cherished books that inspired me to my most extreme opinions and beliefs. From rebel Weller to John Reed, we enjoyed 84 salons and heard stories of bibliophilic passion from over 60 book nerds and held at least 10 salons where the group shared books together.
Weller Book Works Collectors’ Book Salons feature libations and treats, social time for conversation, and a special deal on rare books that is only available to guests. Books are bridges across the divides of time and space and they embrace the diversity of the human experience, we try to keep our treats, speakers and deals diverse, which is maybe another word for unpredictable. I believe in the power of environment and consider costume a piece of it. In that spirit, I use our salons to play with attire and encourage guests to dress up, or down, or weird, or playfully, to help our sensibilities out of predictable zones.
We will fill salon glasses again on July 29th! After 29 months’ hiatus we will resume the monthly gathering with a group sharing event and I am asking you to attend with a book you esteem that was not authored by a Caucasian male. White guys have held stage for too long and our civil progress will be better served if we balance our perception. This is a gathering for book fetishists. What makes your volume special? Please choose a book and come prepared to share your choice with other guests.
On August 26th, John Sillito will provide our Collector’s Chat. Sillito is Emeritus Professor at Weber State University, and a member of the board of editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly. He has been a book collector for sixty years, mostly on American history, and remembers his first purchases as a teenager at Zion’s on Main, Wilson’s on East Second South, and Earl Marshall’s shop on West Temple. He is the author of B. H. Roberts: A Life in the Public Arena (Signature Books, 2021), and the editor of History’s Apprentice: The Diaries of B. H. Roberts, 1880-98 (Signature Books, 2004). His book, co-authored with John S. McCormick, , published by Utah State University Press, received the Francis Armstrong Madsen Award for the Best Book in Utah History in 2011 from the Utah State Historical Society.
We start with drinks and nibbles at 6:30 and muster for the Collector’s Chat at 7:15. Fridays July 29 and August 26 in our Rare Book Room. The event has no digital component.