Throughout his life, George Whitman traveled the world as a self-proclaimed "tumbleweed," blowing from place to place, sheltered by the grace of strangers.
Wishing to repay the generosity he encountered during his journeys, George founded the bookstore in 1951 with the motto "be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise" and threw open the doors to all sorts of writers, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge.
Tumbleweeds (as guests came to be called) are asked only to "read a book a day," help out in the shop for a couple of hours, and write a single-page autobiography for George's archives. Today, the bookshop has housed an estimated 30,000 Tumbleweeds, our shelves are crammed with autobiographies and stories of romances played out beneath the beams, and—most importantly—we have no intention of closing our doors.
If you'd like to know more about becoming a Tumbleweed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Tumbleweed” in the subject line.
*Please note that the charm of the Tumbleweed program lies in its communal nature, so be ready to share your space with others. Privacy is not really an option!
Tumbleweeds Around The Web:
• "I Am Something of a Tumbleweed" from Tin House
• Tumbleweed Writing on Le Blog