TEXTBLOCK | The bi-monthly newsletter of Weller Book Works | MARCH - APRIL 2020

Modern Library from the Libermount

by Tony Weller
I couldn’t resist coining a term for the mountain of second-hand books we’ve been excavating since late last year: libermount . The time required mining our libermount has prevented us from buying as much recently as we assess, describe and sort this treasure. We do not like disappointing sellers but we often reach labor and spatial capacity and are obligated to slow the inflow.

Each day, numerous persons offer us books. We try to speak with every seller but with some billion new books printed each year, opportunities to acquire second-hand books are constant. That is why we buy only by appointment. During buying triage, we try to learn roughly how many books a person is trying to sell. The only reasons we care are to estimate how much time appointments might require and whether they will be scheduled in our bookstore or in a home. When I ask about quantity I sometimes hear, “a whole bunch,” or “tons,” and so I ask, “Do you mean 25 or ten thousand?” to get to a usable answer more quickly. In terms of desirability or value, quantity means nothing.

Persons who acquire many books are likely to have uncommon items. Nonetheless, scarcity is only part of the value equation, and not enough of it. Odds are scarce books that are also desirable are found more often in larger book collections. It blows one’s mind how many books a bibliomaniac can amass, even in a small space. At least once annually, Weller Book Works is offered a book collection consisting of thousands of books that requires months to process.

Last November we bought some 7500 volumes from the estate of a customer of ours who had shopped here for over 50 years. It was not a collector’s library but a very smart readers’ library, with canonical titles from many topics in inexpensive good quality editions. Even though I manage the rare book department and delight in the treasures we display there, this giant collection has reminded me of the most important function of books, their effect on those who read them. Books that do not influence or enchant are not much valued by book collectors. The very principle book collecting is nearly meaningless without notable content. The passion for valuable books is subservient to their influence.

In 1917, firebrand publishers Albert Boni and Horace Liveright initiated a new series of books called The Modern Library . Their intention was to publish important works in handy and affordable hardcover editions. The roll out of twelve titles included works by Henrik Ibsen , Friedrich Nietzsche , Robert Louis Stevenson , H.G Wells , and Oscar Wilde . In 1925, Liveright sold Modern Library to his employee Bennett Cerf to relieve one of his pressing debts - in addition to publishing books, Liveright had a hand in bootlegging and the Theatre.

When Cerf founded Random House in 1927, Modern Library was the sturdy foundation on which that empire would rise. Now, a century later, hundreds of well-chosen books have been published by Modern Library.

Since its founding, the Modern Library reputation has waxed and waned, and presently is high. Of course the physical styles of the books varied by era and there occurred a few variant series such as The Illustrated Modern Library series and The Modern Library Giants. They’re not visually remarkable but I especially like the library editions (not to be conflated with ex-library or library copies ) because they are bound in delightfully textural buckram with extra sturdy hinges. I am writing about Modern Library because we have hundreds in store right now from the massive library we bought in November.

There are very many titles from which to choose and one of the best things about physical bookstores is the ability of booksellers to connect dots of reading taste. Read enough books and one starts to notice differences in books reflecting their makers. Over years, I have grown respect for certain publishers, printers or imprints. The Modern Library title list is certainly more casual than Britannica’s Great Books or the Harvard Classics. Since youth, I have used the Modern Library imprint how it was intended and how it has been used by each generation since its founding. Inclusion in the series is evidence of the worthiness of a book, even, in some cases, if only for one generation. Need to catch up on some classics? Consider Modern Library. Now is the time. Our Libermount also rendered hundreds of smart and good quality editions from other publishers. Intellectual gluttony. Life is short. How is arrogance even possible?

Rare Book Acquisitions

Modern Library editions are collected by many but seldom expensive. Nearly all the copies we recently acquired are moderately priced between $5 and $15. Here are three scarce 1960's era Modern Library classics in dust jackets that found their way into the rare book department...

 All seven volumes of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past in their dust jackets-- a hard achievement. $225

The great Rockwell Kent illustrated edition of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick . $150

Ulysses by James Joyce in a bright dust jacket for $ 40

Other Sundry Rare Items...

A nice copy of the 1997 Zone Books oblong quarto The Panorama: History of Mass Medium
 by Stephen Oetterman . $125

The Limited Editions Club two-volume edition of Notre Dame de Paris , aka The Hunchback by Victor Hugo is a marvelous way to own this classic novel. Two small quarto volumes are illustrated with bold woodcuts by Frans Masereel and signed by him in purple at the terminus of volume two. They’re bound in simple printed paper covers contained in a chemise with a slipcase with split seams. $225

Signed 1 st edition of Wilt Chamberlain’s 1973 autobiography, Wilt: Just Like any other 7-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door. $125

Three good and early jacketed 1 st editions by Jim Harrison:

A Good Day to Die . 1973.

Farmer . 1976. Slightly soiled in jacket. $50

Wolf: A False Memoir . 1971

Our Best Weller's pick is
20% off March & April
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age
Simon & Schuster
List Price: $15.00
Our Price: $12.00

Reviewed by Tamsen Maloy

Muslim Girl by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a memoir about reclamation. In it, Al-Khatahtbeh describes how her life changed as a Muslim-American after 9/11 and how she worked to take pride in an identity that a lot of Americans treat with fear, ignorance and hate. She tells the story of her own 9/11 experience (something all Americans old enough to remember that day can relate to) and how she goes from being bullied and feeling shame, to living in Jordan immersed in Islam as a culture, to returning to the United States, to starting her own media company MuslimGirl.com .

Al-Khatahtbeh was in fourth grade when the Twin Towers fell, and that same year she was called a racial slur for the first time. She says she had been bullied before, but that 9/11 made the bullying take a darker turn that included harassment and crimes against her entire family. 

Describing how she felt navigating her home identity--a Muslim girl born in and raised in the New Jersey--and the shame and fear she dealt with around other people, Al-Khatahtbeh summons W.E.B. Du Bois:
"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."
This measuring of her own soul against the tape measure of Islamophobes instilled in Al-Khatahtbeh a feeling of inferiority, a feeling that she didn’t necessarily deserve to take up space or call attention to herself. 

The contrast between not wanting to call attention to herself and the title of her memoir reveals how much has changed for her since childhood: The first thing you know about her is that she is Muslim and proud. Her love of being Muslim is part of what made her decide to wear the hijab when her family returned to the United States after spending time in Jordan. 

She says, “I told myself upon my return to the States, I would wear the headscarf with pride as my outward rebellion against the Islamophobia that had seized me and suffocated me for most of my life.” 

Al-Khatahtbeh also describes “microdefenses” she and other Muslim-Americans employ in an effort to stay safe and to try to avoid discrimination. An example she uses is that she stands further away from the subway tracks than most people. She cites a 2013 hate crime when a woman shoved a Hindu man in front of an oncoming train, the woman’s justification being she thought he was Muslim. 

Her use of microdefenses brings to mind once more Du Bois’s double-consciousness. She is at once trying to simply live her day-to-day life while also trying to predict what behaviors might trigger violence or discrimination from other people.

Most of Muslim Girl was written prior to the ascension of Donald Trump into the White House, with the epilogue written a few months into the presidency. Now, just over three years since its publication, we have seen in real-time the enactment of Muslim bans as well as escalating Islamophobia. In this climate of increasing hate, Muslim Girl becomes an essential read for understanding the stakes for Muslim-Americans.

Thoughts & Reviews
Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit 
By Eliese Colette Goldbach
Releases March 3rd
Flatiron Books
Reviewed by Lane Richins

Rust  is hard and sharp like rust itself. There is so much warmth, though...the oranges and reds of rust, the color of dusk, signifying the end of a day, a time, an experience, a livelihood...also bright and new, vibrant, dawn-like, signifying hope, promise, a new era. Eliese Colette Goldbach doesn't pull any punches and I dig that. The thing I really love, though, is her story is so relatable. Given a different city and occupation--granted a much safer occupation--this is my story, probably most of ours. The struggle between personal promise and undiscovered future potential juxtaposed with the need to stay connected with the ties that bind, and the need for a paycheck, is universal. Goldbach approaches her journey with such honesty, sometimes bitterness, and with deep love. Great read.
William Gibson

Recommended by Jos é Knighton

When William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" in his award winning and ground-breaking debut novel, Neuromancer, in 1984, he invented a computer-saturated future that he hammered out on a manual typewriter. He was following in the pioneering footsteps of fellow science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. In 1945 Clarke famously imagined geosynchronous orbital satellites that could put our entire globe in constant communication—it only took three.

At the time of Neuromancer's publication Gibson was a wide-eyed, gangly young man with fly-away hair and a smug grin; Arthur C. Clarke was a bespectacled, gangly elder statesman of sic-fi, whose balding dome had something of a planetary aspect. With a dozen successful books in his back-catalog, William Gibson, author of the new novel Agency , bears an uncanny resemblance to iconic Arthur C. Clarke, circa 1984. And like Clarke, Gibson has spent much of his life several steps ahead of the rest of us. 

Reading Gibson's meticulous prose is a lived experience: like his characters, you never know what's happening till it happens to you. You learn about their worlds and lives by sharing their presence . Several characters in Agency experience unfamiliar, parallel timelines in a manor similar to the reader, through telepresence : a helmet-like controller allows a user to have their consciousness temporarily diverted into a high-tech device that physically exists in "stub" timelines like, say, a heavily armed military robot drone. One of those timelines is obviously in a distant future, another, though disturbingly familiar, is not precisely our own. The Agency of the title referrers to a Gibson-unusual Artificial Intelligence called Eunice, and her agency—her ability to act—will have an enormous affect on the novel's and the reader's trajectory. Climb aboard, you're in for a wild and unforgettable ride.


Breakfast Club at The Bean Yard
Join lead new book buyer Catherine Weller for an informal chat every Tuesday, 
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM.

Craft with us every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM!

The C ollector's Book Salon in the Rare Book Room
Meet other smart readers every final Friday of the month, January - October. Glasses are filled and socializing begins at 6:30 PM.
6:30 PM
Wacko's City of Fun Carnival
by Jeff Metcalf

Join us for a reading and signing with Jeff Metcalf, an old friend of Weller Book Works, and his new SLC adventure involving the chaos of youth.

When charismatic Salt Lake City teenager Hubert Walker stumbles into some trouble, he leaps from the frying pan into the fire by running away and joining the carnival: Wacko's City of Fun! Based on true events, this stirring story of traveling the west is about finding friends in strange places and making bold choices. In his charged and wry prose, Jeff Metcalf has given us a rich vibrant story of the dangers and joy of being young.

Jeff Metcalf is a professor of English at the University of Utah and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Teaching Award, the National Council of Teachers of English Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Writers at Work Lifetime Achievement Award. His fiction and essays have appeared in local and national magazines. His plays have been staged world-wide.
6:30 PM
Books & bridges: The Sanctity of Complexity

Steven Peck , Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Brigham Young University, will explore the beauty and complexity of the evolutionary process. Based on a career of study and observation, he will show how life is a relationship among various kinds of agents interacting at different scales in ways that are multifarious, complex, and emergent; life is always part of an ecological embedding in communities of interaction, which in turn structure and influence how life evolves.

Evolution is essential for understanding life and biodiversity. Dr. Peck will discuss three areas that have once again become relevant in the effort to unite evolutionary genetics, biological development, and ecological context: (1) the purposeful nature of individual organisms and their parts; (2) the integrative, holistic, non-linear emergent dynamics seen in evolutionary processes; and (3) how genuine novelty emerges into the universe. Peck will then put this complexity under the microscope of sacred understandings, examining evolutionary questions with theological light and weighing whether the two approaches are compatible.

A Q&A and refreshments will follow. The lecture is free, open to the public, and made possible by a grant from Utah Humanities.

This event is organized by Books & Bridges — a community institute of ideas and conversation. Our mission is to facilitate discussion on the best of human thought. We explore the wisdoms of the world and apply them to modern life. We have no political, religious or ideological affiliation. In a society divided by uncivil discourse, the beauty of the humanities—novels, history, philosophy, poetry, ethics and epics—lifts us to our better angels. In our busy world we need space for friends and fellow learners to do a little more heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind.
7:00 PM
American Prisoner of War Camps in Montana and Wyoming by Kathy Kirkpatrick

This month we'll welcome back our friend Kathy Kirkpatrick as she presents and signs the next in her American Prisoner of War Camps series.

American Prisoner of War Camps in Montana and Wyoming describes the impact of the large number of prisoners of war on the populations of Montana and Wyoming, as well as the impact of the people of Montana and Wyoming on those imprisoned there. Providing detail on the care and employment of prisoners of war according to the Geneva Convention of 1929, the lives of POWs in these states are illustrated, along with the details of camp locations in Montana and Wyoming and the deaths and burials that occurred among them.

Kathy Kirkpatrick has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, and has authored many works including Basic Genealogy , The Descendants of Timothy Meeker , Proving the Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Sicilian Family , and the other books in her American Prisoners of War series .

2:00 PM
More Love Letters: Writing a River of Love
A free 2 hour love letter writing workshop
from The Culture Collective with T iffany Burns and Nan Seymour of River Writing .

We're thrilled to be working with our lovely comrades from the Culture Collective to write more uplifting and curiosity-inspiring letters to strangers. Creativity loves community, so bring your favorite pen and a little courage. Tiffany and Nan will offer a brave space, fresh prompts, and plenty of encouragement as they guide us through their highly engaging River Writing Workshop.
6:00 PM
Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge that Proves Less is Really So Much More
By Courtney Carver

Ever ask yourself how many of the items in your closet you actually wear? In search of a way to pare down on her expensive shopping habit, consistent lack of satisfaction with her purchases, and ever-growing closet, Courtney Carver created Project 333 . In  Project 333 , minimalist expert and author of  Soulful Simplicity  Courtney Carver takes a new approach to living simply--starting with your wardrobe. Project 333 promises that not only can you survive with just 33 items in your closet for 3 months, but you'll thrive just like the thousands of people who have taken on the challenge and never looked back. Pop over to the Kiln Co-working space in The Gateway for the discussion and signing, and let the de-cluttering begin!
6:30 PM
52 Random Weekend Projects For Budding ome Inventors and Backyard Builders
By The King of Random, Grant Thompson
Book launch

Join Weller's and the current hosts of The King of Random Youtube channel, Calli Gade and Nate Bonham , for a meet & greet to celebrate t he book launch of 52 Random Weekend Projects For Budding Inventors and Backyard Builders ! This guide enables ordinary folks to build an impressive array of DIY projects using easy to acquire materials and tools. These crafts combine some of The King of Random ’s most popular builds—Matchbox Rockets, Pocket Slingshot Super Shooters, Ninja Balls, Marshmallow Blasters, and more—with new, exciting crafts for every skill level. The book provides clear instructions on how to build all of the projects step-by-step and includes black and white illustrations of all 52 projects. Come celebrate with us and witness some cannon tricks!
6:30 PM
Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers by John Cook

From the founder of the award-winning website, Skeptical Science, which has more than 300,000 visitors a month and over 190,000 Facebook fans, and has received attention from President Obama, John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, Jimmy Kimmel and many others (and attacked by climate contrarians like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum), a fully-illustrated, accessible, visually engaging, and science-based look at the psychology of typical arguments used by climate change deniers alongside strategic evidence-based tactics on how to constructively respond to their claims. Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change combines humor, cartoons, and science to make sense of the public controversy about climate change. Join us for Cook's discussion on climate change followed by a signing. We all have a family member who thinks they know better than the world's climate scientists.
7:00 PM
Broken Lenses: Identifying Your Truth in a World of Lies
by Emily Bernath

After surviving a sexual assault, Emily Bernath felt her life rapidly change. She went from feeling as though she had everything to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. It was during that time of being open about her experience that it became apparent to her just how many other people experience those same feelings, and so easily allow things that aren’t true about them to define who they are.  Broken Lenses  stems from a passion to take outreach to the next level. Emily identifies some of the most popular lies people believe about themselves and pulls out the 12 biggest Biblical truths Christians should embrace in their own lives, such as “I am lovable” and “I am not a failure.” Join us for a presentation and signing of this perspective-shifting map to believing truths about ourselves and what it looks like to truly embrace them.
6:30 PM
Collectors' Book Salon
Thomas Merton: A Most Modern Monk

In our Collectors Book Salon on March 27 th , author, historian, Weber State Professor Emeritus and excellent fellow John Sillito will conduct the Collector’s Chat. Sillito is a member of the board of editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly. He is the editor of History’s Apprentice: The Diaries of B. H. Roberts , 1880-98 (Signature Books, 2004), and is completing a biography of Roberts scheduled to be published this year. His History of Utah Radicalism: Startling, Socialistic and Decidedly Revolutionary , co-authored with John S. McCormick and published by Utah State University Press, received the Francis Armstrong Madsen Award for the 2011 Best Book in Utah History from the Utah State Historical Society. John has been a book collector of mostly American History for fifty-five years. He 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.
John’s Collector’s Chat is called Thomas Merton: A Most Modern Monk . At age 27, Thomas Merton entered the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani near Louisville, Kentucky, on December 10, 1941. Between then and his death, twenty-seven years later to the day, Merton produced a remarkable literary output. His books, essays, correspondence have much to say about life, love, the excesses of technology, and the human condition. While he was a cloistered monk, he was anything but pious. He enjoyed a cold beer, jazz, Dylan, and the Marx Brothers. At the Collectors’ Book Salon, John Sillito will give an overview of Merton, his foibles, idiosyncrasies and humanity, his literary work, the titles that have lasted, and his relevance today.
Independent Bookstore Day
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Join in us in celebrating the power and presence of indie bookstore s and get exclusive merch you can only find on Independent Bookstore Day , plus enjoy the benefits of the new & improved Bookstore Day Passport . ....
See something you like? Call 801-328-2586 and ask for the Rare Book department, or email rarebooks@wellerbookworks.com. We ship anywhere!
Thank you for supporting your local independent bookstore
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Store hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 AM-8 PM | Friday-Saturday, 10 AM-9 PM | Sunday, 12 PM-5 PM