TEXTBLOCK | The e-version of our bi-monthly newsletter | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019
Read like a Bookseller: Eight Tips for Getting More from Reading and Books
by Tony Weller
Last month, Scott Renshaw invited me to share thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions with City Weekly readers. I’m not qualified to make resolutions for others but I can share some suggestions and thoughts about getting more from books and reading. Here are eight ways to improve one’s relationships with books.

  1. Ask the most impressive persons you know which books are most influential in their lives and read those books. This is not only fun, it is powerful and of great intellectual value. A person’s identity is assembled from experiences and impressions. Readers can pick influence from the whole pantheon of human wisdom. When you ask an esteemed friend for reading advice, the question itself is a compliment that shows your respect and admiration. Since you choose which friends, your aspirations are self-directed. You’ll learn about important books and deepen friendships.
  2. Read every day. We live in busy times, so build reading into your daily schedule. Reading is as important to mental health as nutrition and exercise are to the body. Use brief interludes between tasks to read if you can’t afford more dedicated time. I seldom read for more than an hour at a spell. I guess I’m a bit hyper-active. I stagger house work and errands with reading. Reading from a book before bed is better for sleep than electronic activities.
  3. Browse in physical bookstores where serendipity can thwart your preferences. Maybe you think you fully understand your taste. Maybe you know what you need. Maybe you navigate by habit and are unaware of the joy and potential in the fields outside your imagination. There are books you’ll love and books that will change your thoughts. You don’t necessarily know them yet. Habits overwhelm perception early in life. A fleet mind must resist such intellectual ossification. To the degree you can muster, read away from your ordinary taste. You don’t ever know what you’re missing. Browsing itself - evaluating and choosing - can be exhilarating.
  4. Keep reading when you become confused. Readers often tell how many pages they read before giving up on a book. “If it doesn’t grab me within a few pages, I just quit reading.” And I wonder, how can a reader project an entire book from a few pages? Observing my own reading, I noticed that it was easiest for me to enter books written by authors with cultural backgrounds similar to my own. But I also noticed that cultural similarity had little bearing on my final impressions of books. If one hangs upside down long enough, the brain will flip the visual image to render it right-side-up. The eye takes a few minutes to adjust to extreme changes in light. One can only smell a new odor for a while before it becomes indiscernible. We apparently have biological needs for equilibrium. When reading, there is a period of accommodation that is required, like learning to dance with a partner. It will take longer when the culture of the author is distant from that of the reader. Reading a book by an author from your time and place will always be easier than reading one from a 300-year-old foreign culture. But the mind will adapt and reading something without full ken won’t hurt you at all. The greatest magic of books is that they cross the chasms of time and geography.
  5. Read hard books out loud. Sometimes one’s comprehension suffers because of distraction. Stories’ lines or ideas may not come together until the end of a sentence, paragraph, or chapter. Reading requires a bit of faith – faith in the author and faith in one’s own ability to read into other minds and new worlds. It is easier to control the voice than the mind and with your actions you can lead your mind. Read out loud. I subscribe to the Buddhist sense of senses which number six. The mind is counted as a sense because of the way the brain correlates diverse information with stored knowledge and perceptions. If seeing only a finger and inferring a whole human isn’t perception, I don’t know what to call it. When I see a copy of Moby Dick, Melville’s voice and narrative surge within me. When one reads silently, one engages the eyes and the mind. When one adds the voice and sound, it doubles the number of engaged senses. I read Gravity’s Rainbow out loud. Also Joyce and Pound.
  6. Look up words you don’t understand. Admittedly, this is hard for me when I have reading momentum. I try to stretch my memory by going for the dictionary every other unknown word but obviously, with some loss of comprehension. Except when I forget, and I do, I go back to be sure. It’s fun to learn new words. I especially like to examine etymologies to deepen understanding and help secure memory.
  7. Speed up when your mind wanders. Most of us lead busy lives - that is a social condition of our era, possibly a failure. Busyness and distraction are common reasons persons struggle to read. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when distracted or when a book doesn’t seem to be working for you, read faster. Read as fast as you can. When one is relaxed, thought wanders. Your brain is a curious dog; when jogging, there’s no time to sniff. Speed forces the mind to be alert.
  8. Permit what you read to influence your beliefs.  Reading should influence the reader. Let the authors’ ideas permeate your experience. This is the power of books. As you add the ideas of great thinkers to your experiences, you add complexity and nuance to the self. A smart and large menu of possibilities enables you to think, feel, and live better, to navigate the complexities of life with grace. No invention enables deeper more complex entry into the mind of another person than a book. It’s said that no one lives up to one’s own potential. Why limit the heights of your dreams, your understanding, and your pleasure?

For what it’s worth, as a child, I remember valuing the power of knowledge found in books more than the enjoyment of stories. As an adult, I value both.

Our Best Weller's pick is
20% off January & February
W. Scott Poole
9781640090934
Counterpoint LLC
Hardcover
List price: $26.00
Our Price: $20.80

Reviewed by Emma Fox

World War I introduced the world to carnage on a massive scale. New and more grotesque ways of destroying life played out on the battle fields of Europe, much of it mechanized and devoid of humanity. The psychological terror and unresolved trauma of war bore fruit, as Bram Stoker Award nominee and historian W. Scott Poole writes, in the birth of the horror genre we know today.

Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror draws a direct line from the shell-shocked soldiers who returned from war to the films they made, heavy laden with sinister shadows and deep with metaphor. The films of Weimar Germany such as Nosferatu , Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , and M had an immense influence on American film noir and later on the walking dead of George Romero’s films, the automaton killers of the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, and the surrealist horror of David Lynch. Poole writes, in a world traumatized by war, these dark shadows and sinister automatons made sense to film audiences in a way that escapes modern viewers.

Poole examines the work of authors and artists of the time and points to the evidence of war terror in their works; those of Kafka, Dali, and the French existentialist philosophers. With an historian's approach, Poole traces the lineage of literary horror from present day to the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen. Writers such as Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long, and Machen would take the mostly innocuous Victorian horror tale and express the casual disregard for life experienced in the world war in a new kind of psychologically terrifying tale, particularly evidenced in Lovecraft's philosophy of Cosmic Horror.

If Wasteland seems like a mere dissection of popular culture, it is not. Poole turns a searing eye toward the lives of poet T.S. Eliot, his mentor Ezra Pound, Salvador Dali, and Lovecraft who expressed fascist sympathies after the war, and draws parallels to the troubled (and troubling) Presidential administration of our times. Poole makes the point that the violence of World War I may correlate with the escalating conflicts we have seen in the last century and a cyclical return to fascist ideologies. For those of us who don’t remember a time before daily news cycles about never-ending foreign conflicts, he points to the horror of World War I as the origin of the madness, and delivers a cautionary tale: we must either deal with the original trauma of a world shocked out of its senses, or suffer the inevitable return of war and totalitarianism.

Staff Reviews
Mark Booth
9781468315660
Overlook Press
Hardcover / $45.00

Reviewed by Mel Ziegler

My curiosity was piqued when, as a young English major at Westminster, a professor informed us that the first literature arose from “Mystery Plays,” but never mentioned anything more. Reading through the classics, I always felt there was something I was missing out on, but assumed it was because I had never read the Bible. Mark Booth’s Illustrated Secret History of the World has since filled in the blanks for me.

Booth taunts us at the outset: “In the pages that follow you will be invited to think the last things that the people who guard and maintain the consensus want you to think. You will be tempted to think forbidden thoughts and taste philosophies that the intellectual leaders of our age believe to be heretical, stupid and mad.” Commencing with the premise that consciousness created matter to experience itself vs. a materialistic view that mind is a mere accident of matter, the author treats myth as history exploring many cross-cultural similarities.

Ancient peoples believed the material world was conscious, interacting with their own thoughts; hence they communed with gods, angels, demons, spirits and elementals. The purpose of initiation into the Mystery Schools was to induce altered states of consciousness utilizing sensory deprivation, breathing exercises, sacred dance, drama, hallucinogenic drugs, and ways of redirecting sexual energies; thus preparing candidates for this contact. Monotheism forced initiates underground to form secret societies such as the Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Knights Templar, Illuminati, etc., who began communicating in secret code.

Many famous artists, authors, philosophers, scientists, and musicians were privy to these secret teachings, encoding it in their work for others “in the know.” Mark Booth provides us with hundreds of illustrations and insight to decipher their symbology. You will have new appreciation for art and literature after consuming this tome and perhaps appreciate why Mona Lisa grins so.
by Jacqueline Rose
9781408845400
Bloomsbury Publishing
Hardcover / $28.00

Reviewed by Kylee Hill

Jacqueline Rose might be a genius. That, at least, is the first thought I had upon finishing her audacious Women in Dark Times , one of those books that seems to have been compelled into completion solely by the author’s longtime intellectual obsessions with an originality and intensity difficult to summarize. I’ll try: this book is a series of profiles of women writers, artists, actresses, and more, mostly from the 20th century. Some famous--Marilyn Monroe, Rosa Luxemburg--and some obscure--the Jewish World War II-era painter Charlotte Salomon, and a bevy of contemporary artists and activists, particularly in her chapter about female honor killings (the book’s title, riffing on Hannah Arendt’s Men in Dark Times , is a warning that things are going to get dark.)

Tying these lives and works together is an argument for the urgency of embracing democracy as a feminist ethos, as all the women she profiles have done in some way. Democracy to this writer, however, is not just a political structure conveniently lent to the title of a melodramatic novel (Joan Didion) or a doomed apologia for WASP elitism (Walter Lippmann) but a foundational value of interpersonal relations, composed of a stringent respect for difference, a commitment to giving many disparate voices the right to speak, and a concurrent preference for ambivalence (the cacophony of many) over absolutes (the false harmony of fascism).

Fluent as she is in the grammar of psychoanalysis, ambivalence is what Rose often means when she writes about the unconscious, or “the dark” aspects of human experience, territories that can’t be explained or controlled by enlightenment-style reason: “You cannot move forward by pretending that the worst of history — yours most intimately, the world’s most brutally — is no longer or was never really there.” World War II is a particular focus here, and as there was nothing reasonable about the horrors it instantiated, her interest in improvising alternate ways of thinking about our violent past and hence our violent present is, ironically, very rational.

If the connections and digressions she makes while attempting this are sometimes a little dizzying, it’s only a side effect of the fact that she never writes like she’s addressing anyone less than an equal; the intrepid reader is amply compensated by the startling details, the arresting phrases often presented as casual asides, that punctuate nearly every page. She’s good at writing about interesting people in interesting ways. In this way, the book’s form mirrors its theme: it has democratically given time and space to a tumultuous array of female lives, the darkness of the historical conditions they existed in, and the art they created from within those conditions, a rejoinder that, as she states in the introduction, “This book is a celebration, since the future of feminism also depends on how we, as women, choose to talk about each other.”
Joyce Carol Oates
9780062319593
Ecco
Hardcover / $26.99

Reviewed by José Knighton

Nothing invigorates the antibodies of dystopian fiction like an outbreak of authoritarian oppression, unless, like Stalin, Hitler and Mao, the disease vectors buried all potential critics in a common grave. Fortunately, George Orwell survived Hitler's Blitz, and in 1948 wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. His bleak novel anticipated—to the year—the reigns of populist autocrats Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, whose cultural suffocations were, conversely, responsible for the publication of the dystopian classics The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Children of Men by P.D. James. 

Not even Orwell, however, anticipated that the incubation and malignancy of a devolved Morlock demagogue with a Mercurochromed combover (straight from that precursor of all dystopian fiction, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine ) would erupt in a self-proclaimed bastion of Democracy: "Ignorance is Strength!," "Fake News!" Or maybe he did. Not surprisingly, we now have a new wave of dystopian novels to read.

While Louise Erdrich's 2017 novel The Future Home of the Living God blended its darkness from the shadows of both The Handmaid's Tale and The Children of Men , Joyce Carol Oates' Hazards of Time Travel , as the title indicates, invokes the penumbra of that Wellsian, dystopian source. Rather than forecasting a distant future's systemic social collapse and exploring its Darwinian failures and mutations, as The Time Machine did, Oates commences her tale in an immanent future's already failed culture, one that uses time travel into an un-evolved dystopian past—the gaping void of the 1950's Midwest—as a Gulag for the exile of nonconforming citizens. 

Oates' teenage protagonist, Adriane, is not particularly rebellious—having been chosen valedictorian of her high school class, but she is idealistic, inquisitive and expressive, unwelcome traits in her world (and our) of tomorrow. When Adriane fails to self-censor her valedictorian speech, she is arrested by Homeland Security and Exiled—as a freshman at Wainscotia State—to a nightmare past of girdles, secondhand smoke and B.F. Skinner's behavioral conditioning. The dystopian title of Skinner's 1971 psychology text, Beyond Freedom and Dignity , sounds like a klaxon-warning of the hazards of our own time. 

News & Announcements
Closed for Inventory
Each year we close shop for a few days to take stock. This year we will close Monday, February 4 through Wednesday, February 6 . During these dates we won't be open to the public and won't be able to process orders by website or phone. Thank you for your patience.

We will open again with regular hours on Thursday, February 7.
Store Events

Breakfast Club with lead new book buyer Catherine Weller is every Tuesday from 10 - 11 AM at The Coffee Connection. Join her for book news and casual conversation - no reading requirement!

Lit Knit is a crafting circle held every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 6 - 8 PM. Crafters of all kinds are welcome to join us for crafting and friendly conversation.

Collectors' Book Salon Interesting people with varying reading tastes gather at the Collectors' Book Salon every last Friday of the month from January through October. Glasses are filled and socializing begins around 6:30 PM, and at 7:15 an invited bibliophile shares her or his particular bibliopassion.
FIRST SALON OF THE YEAR: FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 6:30 PM
We initiate the season with a book collectors' sharing Salon. This year, we are asking you to show us the first rare or collectible book acquired for yourself , and tell us about it. We'll take turns showing the first "expensive" or "precious" books we deliberately chose and bought . We'll examine seminal events in each of our progressions from dull mortals to bibliophiles. Bring your friends.
TALES FROM THE RARE BOOK TRADE WITH JOAN NAY AND TONY WELLER:
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 6:30 PM
In 2009, the Utah Library Association invited Joan Nay and Tony Weller to make a rare book presentation of their own design. With their combined experience of over six decades and far too many stories, they decided to weave several favorite tales together and present them briskly with a theatrical soundtrack. They jumbled together collectors' tips, great finds, gossip, what-hey, trivia, vocabulary and book crimes and other bookish amusements and tossed 'em out quickly. The even utilized a curtain! The librarians seemed to have as much fun as they did.

For the February 22nd Salon, Joan and Tony will shuffle a new selection of tales from the rare book trade. Oh, which tales will they choose?
Weller Book Quirks
Recently, we found this spread about Weller's in a used book - the spread features a photo of Lila Ann at about age 9 reading a book in the rinc ó n de libros of our old store. When history circles back to us: Quirk!

Look for #WellerBookQuirks on our social media. Are you following us?
Rare Books
The scarce 1891 Picturesque West: Our Western Empire Beyond the Mississippi by H.L. Williams. Geography, Geology, Natural History, Climate, Soil, Agriculture, Minerals, Crops, Herds, Flocks, Social Conditions, Prospects, but not as many illustrations as the title suggests.

Picturesque West: Our Western Empire Beyond the Mississippi , $100
A small folio of Walt Disney prints in magnificent full color, containing two bright scenes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and two from Bambi . Very pretty. SOLD
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has been printed in a vast array of different editions. The beloved poem is best known through Edward Fitzgerald’s translations . As with devotional books, ornate copies abound. Here we offer a lovely London Collins 1971 edition in blue pebbled leather with vivid color illustrations by Robert Stewart Sherriffs. It presents Fitzgerald’s evolving translations as they appeared in the first, second and fifth editions. It’s in beautiful condition with a heartfelt inscription from “Tom.” Slipcase that is worn.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam , $150
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Community of Christ was founded in the schismatic period following the murder of Joseph Smith, Jr. Most followers accepted Brigham Young’s leadership but the RLDS Church subscribed to the belief that Smith’s son, Joseph III, would be the next prophet of the church. The Saints’ Advocate was the RLDS Church’s monthly paper, edited by early apostle William W. Blair. All copies of The Saints’ Advocate are scarce. Here we offer 47 complete issues printed between 1878 and 1886, the duration of its run.

The Saints’ Advocate, $2250
We recently acquired a nice batch of Jack London titles, including a few very scarce ones. No, we didn’t get a Call of the Wild or Sea Wolf but there are too many to list. Here is a sampling:
  • A very attractive 2nd 1902 printing of Children of the Frost bound in sea-green cloth with decorative black, white and red embossing. $50
  • A good, stable but rubbed 1st edition of Tales of the Fish Patrol from 1905. $225
  • A very well kept 1913 1st edition of John Barleycorn. $125
  • Two copies of the seldom seen Kempton-Wace Letters from 1903. The novel was co-authored by London and Anna Strunsky and anonymously published because of its sexual content. $2200 for the one with bright gilt or $1800 for the rubbed copy.
We wish you a happy and prosperous New Year
2019
Thank you for supporting your local independent bookstore.
Weller Book Works | 801-328-2586 | books@wellerbookworks.com | wellerbookworks.com
Store hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 AM-8 PM | Friday-Saturday, 10 AM-9 PM | Sunday, 12 PM-5 PM