The Questions We Didn't Know to Ask
By Tony Weller
I meet remarkable persons in our bookstore. Engagement with them, their minds and ideas, their books, their passion has broadened my culture, humbled me and made me comfortable with, even excited about diverse cultures. Some of these fascinating persons have become my friends. And I frequently am called to help families when the older ones pass away.

Like finding homes for kittens, senior book collectors worry about their books being recognized, valued, enjoyed and preserved. That is a service our bookstore provides. Even self-proclaimed non-readers seem concerned that books be preserved. After all, until a generation ago they were the dominant and stablest vehicle of culture. If a reader shopped here for many years, we are most likely offered their books when they pass away.
I cannot count the libraries of bibliophile friends I have purchased over the years, but I have found myself at the same frustrating juncture again and again while handling the books of esteemed late clients. When one handles every book in a person’s library, one sees the person from numerous angles. It is an intimate experience. A person’s books show their curiosity. One’s books reveal personality and history. Unread books reveal hopes and desires. When I handle a deceased person’s books, I begin to understand the person more deeply than before, and it suggests questions too late for the asking.
This year I am having the experience again in the most personal possible way. I am now processing the second half of the library of my parents, Samuel Weller (1921 – 2009) and Lila N. Weller (1915 – 2021). Some of you remember that Sam retired in 1997 when he became blind. At that time, with his lively participation, we brought a few thousand books into the bookstore for resale, and many customers were excited by the books he owned. We stopped removing books from the crowded household about half way through, and Sam passed away in 2009. Now, with the passing of my mother Lila in April, the rest of this generation of Weller books must have new homes. Many are my father’s books, but most of them are from my mother’s library. And just like questions I might have asked departed bookstore friends like John Schow or Victor Kassell, the questions I didn’t know to ask my mom are adding up.

As I go through the remaining Weller books, I discover questions I could not have known I would ever want to ask, questions that can’t be fathomed until a book nudges curiosity. Mostly about books, but also about some personal matters. No less now with my parents’ books am I thwarted by the absence of the persons with the answers. Who ever knows how much story is lost with each passing soul?
It will require months to sort all of my parents’ books: to bring the majority to the store and process them before putting them on the shelves. Our libremount, the name I gave the mountain of books behind our pricing desk, shrinks and grows as we add departed friends’ collections, and now we are adding Weller family books.

The books arriving from Sam and Lila’s collections? Nutrition, Cookbooks, Mysteries, Astrology, Jazz commentary, Pogo and Western Americana. 

Are there old books, papers and photos in your family? Ask your elders questions while there is still time. Label oblique things. Ask for stories. With your curiosity, build a bridge from their generation to yours.
92 Years of Bookselling!
Ten Years in Trolley Square
In August, we mark 92 years of juggling and vending dreams, knowledge, stories and poetryahem, books. After almost 18 months of constrained activities, we are just now beginning to fathom in-person activities. Author events and the resumption of the Collectors Book Salons are occupying our attention, so no anniversary celebration is in store for us in 2021. Instead, please join us for a celebratory return to in-person activities on Sunday, August 1 (see below for details).
We are planning a postponed memorial for Lila Weller for some time in October, date to be announced.
Acquisitions in Rare Books
By Tony Weller
By Robinson Jeffers
A very clean first edition of Robinson Jeffers’ 1916 poetry collection Californians. Jacketless but bright and tight. $200
By Bruce R. McConkie
A superior copy of the 2nd edition of Bruce R. McConkie’s ever-problematic Mormon Doctrine. 1st printing and super clean in dust jacket. $175
The Gold Plates! Well, maybe a Miniature Model Representing the Gold Plates of the “Book of Mormon” which were delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni and published here in Salt Lake City by the Pyramid Press in 1947. This small item by Robert W. Smith contains fifty pages of history and a gold block of wood to remind one of the tablets Moroni took away. Held together by three brass rings. Edges of pages are bumped and creased. All editions are scarce. This is the 3rd printing. $100
By Pausanias
A very nice three volume set of Second century CE Greek geographer Pausanias’ renowned Description of Greece. Our leather octavo set was printed in London in 1824. It contains a few folding maps. It was professionally and discreetly rebacked with very close matching leather and décor. In very good condition with former contemporary owner’s bookplates on front pastedowns. $575
Mimeographed Books from the Utah Lighthouse Ministry
By Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Five comb-bound mimeograph books from the Utah Lighthouse Ministry which since the 1960s has reprinted seminal LDS documents and numerous works critical of Mormonism under the energetic influence of Jerald and Sandra Tanner. Some of these have become scarce works.

Mormon Scriptures and the Bible by Jerald and Sandra Tanner. $30

Temple Mormonism: An Expose of the Temple Ceremony, a reprint of the same-titled work from 1931 published by A. J. Montgomery with the subtitle, Its Evolution, Ritual and Meaning. $35
Receive 20% off when you purchase during July & August
Graywolf Press, 2020
Special price: $12.80

Review by Salem Rogers
Danez Smith's third poetry collection, Homie, is an intimate, tenderly written exploration of the necessity and beauty of community and friendship, delivered through an unapologetically Black, queer, Poz (HIV positive), and millennial lens. Each of these intersecting identities are absolutely integral to Smith's poetry, and their work most broadly explores how chosen family functions as a sanctuary away from all too common struggles with racist and queerphobic violence, mental illness, and poverty. Identity informs the communities we're granted access to, need, or simply want to belong to, and Homie examines both in-group and out-group experience with charisma, depth, and compassion. 

One of the most striking analyses of Black disenfranchisement is “Fall Poem,” in part due to its unassuming title and how Smith eases the reader in with delicate, if cold imagery: “the leaves done done their annual shimmy. / now the streetlight with no soft green curtain / cuts a silver blade across my bed / & my body.” This cutting silver blade carries the tone as Smith quickly twists the poem into a critique of morbid, voyeuristic fascination with Black suffering: “no one / wants to hear a poem about fall; much prefer the fallen / body, something easy to mourn, body cut out of the light / body lit up with bullets, see how easy it is to bring up bullets?” Smith circles back to the fallen leaves they open with, but the image is now distorted with violence, almost like an invasive thought. There’s a sense of futility in avoiding the subject as they “[think] of the leaf-colored bodies, their weekly fall.” The final image they leave us with is one of a child sitting on a porch “watching other kids walk by, waiting for kids who don’t / pass anymore on the other side of summer, who maybe go / to a different school or moved out east or made like a tree / & now sleep in a box made from one.” The imagery Smith uses is evocative of “Strange Fruit,” and just as unflinching. It serves as a haunting reminder of the sheer magnitude of anti-Black violence, and a condemnation of outsiders who are only concerned with the spectacle. 

“old confession & new” similarly examines popular fascination with collective trauma, in this context, the willingness and desire to pay for and profit from it. This poem is an irreverent look at Smith's HIV positive diagnosis that flippantly but deliberately asks what this can do for their career. They state, “that which hasn’t killed you yet can pay the rent,” and question if so many Black artists’ claim to fame is “gettin’ paid off the cruelty / of whites, why not make the blood / a business?” They close by saying, “my blood brings me closer to death / talking about it has bought me new boots / a summer’s worth of car notes, organic everything.” While the catharsis that can follow relaying trauma, especially in one’s own words, can and should be celebrated, the underlying question is why underserved communities in particular aren't afforded the same attention, respect, and resources before tragedy befalls them. 

Though Smith refuses to sanitize their experience, and doesn’t shy away from exploring the pain of disenfranchisement, a balanced inclusion of Black joy and solidarity underpins this collection, with affectionate portraits painted of the loved ones that enrich any life. “how many of us have them” is an unabashed celebration of friendship, and practically bursts off the page with glee. In it, Smith is eager to let us know “i have just seen / two boys—yes, black—on bikes—also black… / friend-drunk, making their little loops, sun-lotioned / faces screwed up with that first & cleanest love / we forget to name as such.” They go on to affectionately tease one of the boys with one of my favorite similes in the collection: “in this golden hour / he kind of looked like Francine off Arthur… / tho in a beautiful way, the best beautiful, same as i know all of us have looked / when wasted off love.” Though this book specifically and intentionally speaks to Black diaspora, communities of color, and queerness, it also speaks to the fundamentally human experience of loving another person, and finding strength within that love. As one of the dedications at the beginning states, this book is, ultimately, “for you and your friends.” 

The poems referenced in this review are just a small taste of what Homie has to offer, and every poem in this collection serves a unique purpose and is worthy of far deeper analysis than I’m able to provide here. Poems not mentioned here that deserve your attention include, “dogs!,” “say it with your whole black mouth,” “what was said at the bus stop,” and “my poems.”
Homie was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and a finalist for the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Poetry
Bookseller Recommendation

By Natasha Pulley
Hardcover $27.00

Review by José Knighton
Napoleon's navy did not lose the battle of Waterloo, but the British did lose the battle of Trafalgar. This is the defining "what-if" of Natasha Pulley's fourth science fiction novel, The Kingdoms. Joe Tournier steps off a train to find that the England he thought he knew has become a colony of France where use of the English language has been banned. In a delirious state, Joe is remanded into medical custody for the treatment of his "amnesia." Eventually he is picked up by M. Saint-Marie, who claims Joe has been a servant/slave "in his household since he was a little boy." 

One day at the Saint-Marie home, Joe receives a postcard of an Outer Hebrides lighthouse with an all-too brief, enigmatic message in illegal English: the postcard has been in limbo for 93 years awaiting delivery. This lighthouse will stand prominently in forthcoming chapters of the novel, as Joe attempts to solve its mystery, and will also introduce another major sci-fi trope besides the overarching alternative-history one. But that would be telling too much. 

Pulley is a supreme empath at character development. And like The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, her 2015 steampunk masterpiece, The Kingdoms is an elaborate page-turner, filled with memorable—sometimes even adorable—characters, whose passing with the book's closure, will be missed by readers who have become accustomed to their presence. Also, like Pulley's other novels, The Kingdoms is loaded with great ideas, surprising sleight-of-mind twists, and a trickster's inventiveness. 
Taking a Summer Road Trip?
By Lucy Foley

Hating the summer heat? Enjoy a retreat to the snowy Scottish Highlands! This is an Agatha-Christie-like murder mystery in a remote spot with a limited number of guests.

By Emily Henry

A new rom-com from the author of last year's Beach Read. Poppy and Alex have been best friends for a decade, but could they be more? They have a week-long vacation to find out. This story about a trip is the perfect pairing for your trip!

By John Green

This is a delightful collection of essays narrated by the author. His topics range from hot dogs and keyboards to video games and dinosaurs.

By Janice P. Nimura

Learn all about the remarkable sisters who paved the way for women in medicine in this fascinating and an exhaustively researched book.

By Jason Reynolds

Ghost has been running his whole life--from danger and responsibility. But now that he's on his school's track team, he needs to learn to focus his talent to get his life back on track. This is the first in a new series and a National Book Award Finalist. Ages 10-13.

By Angeline Boulley

Eighteen-year-old Daunis looks forward to leaving home and her Ojibwe and French Canadian family to go to college, but an unexpected death means her plans might change. Ages 14-18.

Find many more audiobooks from Wellers and Libro.fm. Every audiobook you get supports your local, independent bookstore!

Join us on our YouTube channel for a virtual conversation with Dr. Lydia S. Dugdale, author of The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom, and death doula in training, Christie Schaefer, as we celebrate the book's paperback release.

Join us for the next event in Macmillan’s Book + Author series! Weller has partnered with Macmillan for this event with Charlotte McConaghy, author of national bestseller Migrations (newly available in paperback) and the highly anticipated upcoming Once There Were Wolves. She'll be in conversation with fellow award-winning Macmillan author Jeff VanderMeer, who most recently published Hummingbird Salamander.

It's Lit Knit time! Join Catherine and the crafters of Weller Book Works on Zoom for 40 minutes of casual bookish conversation. All crafts and crafters are welcome! Email for the Zoom link: [email protected].

We're delighted to host a virtual conversation between M Shelly Conner, author of everyman, and Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Join us on YouTube for a presentation by Lynne Stein, author of Shedding the Shackles: Women's Empowerment Through Craft. Stein's book explores women's craft enterprises, their artisanal excellence, and the positive impact their individual projects have on breaking the poverty cycle. This will be a show-and-tell style event with Stein showcasing crafts featured in the book.
We're pleased as punch to announce our return to in-person events this August! Many of our upcoming events will remain virtual, but we've missed your lovely faces and can't wait to share space with you once again.

We're kicking off on August 1st with a welcome-back celebration that will include the return of our Books and Cooks Culinary Competition and the debut of our monthly trivia night. Details below:

August 1, 12:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Our Books and Cooks Culinary Competition returns on Sunday, August 1st at 12:30 PM. This competition will be cakes! Everyone loves 'em! Do you have a family recipe you're dying to show off? Are you a crazy scientist in the kitchen, with out of this world cake creations? Savory or sweet, giant or petite, this cake battle is for you! There will be giveaways throughout the event, and prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! Judging is done blind, with a three judge panel. We'd love to see you there! If you don't want to compete, but like eating cake, come watch! It's a lot of fun, and there should be cake for all! Seriously though, nothing is more delicious than the sweet taste of victory, so you should probably just sign up to compete. If you'd like to compete, email [email protected] no later than the week before with the subject line, "Cake Battle" for entry details.

We debut our monthly trivia afternoon on Sunday, August 1st at 4 PM! People may participate in teams of 3 to 6, and prizes will be given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! To sign up, email [email protected] with your team members' names and the subject line, "Literary Trivia" no later than the week before.
What follows are the recurring in-person events you can enjoy this August, and in the months to come!

We debut our monthly trivia afternoon on Sunday, August 1st at 3 PM. People may participate in teams of 3 to 6, and must sign up in advance by emailing [email protected] with their team members' names and the subject line "Literary Trivia" no later than the day before.

Breakfast Club returns Tuesday, August 3rd at 10 AM! Join us for coffee, snacks, and literary chats every Tuesday morning at My Amour, located directly across from our first floor entrance.

In-person Lit Knit starts up again Wednesday, August 11th at 6 PM. Join Catherine and the crafters of Weller Book Works for casual bookish conversation and snacks. All crafts and crafters are welcome.

Our monthly open mic debuts Tuesday, August 31st at 6 PM. We welcome poetry, short prose, music, monologues, comedy, magic, and anything else you could think to perform. Sign up opens at 5:45 PM the night of, and available slots will be given on a first-come first-served basis. 
Visit our events page for the most up-to-date information on all our events.
Thanks for being part of our Weller community!

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Weller Book Works | 801-328-2586 | [email protected] | wellerbookworks.com
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