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Malaprop's Monthly Letter to Readers

Books by My Bedside

by Emöke B'Racz


May We be Forgiven is the title of A.M. Homes' latest novel. The chaotic world we live in is presented with well-chosen words and in unexpected patterns. It is always a good surprise and a good reading experience with A. M. Homes. I will never forget the lesson I learned reading This Book will Save Your Life. I started reading it and I could hear myself thinking, “Oh, what do I care about this guy and his ennui?” To my great surprise, I found myself cheering him on! I am trusting this author with whatever she writes: in the end the story will speak to me in my learning. Speaking of learning, a former staff came to pick up her special order The Gardens of Democracy and the book caught my fancy. I bought my copy right away. The authors Eric Lui and Nick Hanauer also penned The True Patriot. I’ve been learning about Citizenship, the Economy and the Role of Government, as it is stated in the subtitle and they are most important points to understand this election season. This elegant little book is beautifully designed, does not emit (e.mitt) heat and I can drop it to the floor next to my bed just before I fall asleep, which I do. I recommend this title to those who are interested in a good overview of what's 'what and how' in our governing bodies. Phew, and it is not even 7 a.m. in the morning. 


Returning to my latest stack of books invites me to browse a new find Foraging: Self-Sufficiency by David Squire. Now, I am ready to try a bit of Rumex acetosa and some Utrica dioica. It is amazing how far we (or I should say "I") have gotten from knowing and using herbs that my grandmother used in her kitchen. That is only in the last oh, say-about 50 years ago. How far we get from the roots of things?


Sometimes stories delightfully drop into my day from friends and customers. This one is a gem. So, it goes like this: Miss Norris decided that Poetry was very important for her six-year-old students, so she began to read them poetry to peak their interest. The other day she read “Sometimes” by Mary Ann Hoberman and a little girl raised her hand and said "Miss Norris that made me feel.” “What did you feel?” asked Miss Norris. The girl answered, “A feeling!”


To invoke a feeling, the concept that a six-year-old identifies a feeling outside of her normal that is priceless in that child's development.  Gold Star, Miss Norris, wherever you are! (Miss Norris is the daughter of Malaprop’s bookseller, Cindy Norris) Keep poetry alive for children everywhere.


Appalachian Elegy, a new collection by bell hooks, just arrived in our store. These poems will give you, as they did me, “feelings” of nature and love for the time, space, and peace we all seek.


Linda sent me a link to a trailer of the upcoming movie Les Miserables that made me cry...and this was just the trailer! It also made me remember that when I was about nine years-old I picked out this book (one of the four volumes) that had a green leather cover with gold-edged pages ...that did it! Before I looked at the title I opened the book and started reading. I read and read and I was lost already to the world.  It was the Nyomorultak or Les Miserables to you. What a rich and totally engrossing story! Love, crime, redemption, revolution and the obsession for the chase. It had everything for my mind to be pleased and rewarded for keeping with the story (at age nine, mind you). I feel very blessed that my parents had a library (and almost nothing else). When out of school and done with chores I would retreat to the 'library'. This was a room with nothing but bookcases filled with books and a big round table in the middle, positioned on a very old and thin Persian rug. My sister Piri and I used to play pretend Robinson Crusoe under that big table until we broke the only ash tray I remember ever having. It was green pottery in the shape of a fish. Mostly though it was a quiet room where I lay on my tummy and spent summers just reading. The classic literature that my parents collected led me to be an avid reader. They did not have to oversee me in the library since whatever was in their collection was fit to be read.


This is how I feel about the selection we present to our customers at Malaprop's. The selection has literary merit, political challenge and flavor for readers at any age. I know this because I SEE many customers scribbling titles on their phone or on a piece of paper because they will not see selections like ours (till they return to our store again). It is a concern at times that maybe those titles get OUTSOURCED (so to speak) to other venues but we do also provide ONLINE ordering access through for ebooks and print books! We will soon be selling Kobo e-readers, too, which received the top honor of “Editor’s Pick” at Wired magazine and was their 2012 favorite e-reader. Look for a KOBO soon at our store.



The fall is a great season for leaves to fall onto the earth and it is a grand time for books to be like falling leaves arriving in our store. Michael Chabon, Robert Olen Butler, Salman Rushdie, Ken Follett, and T.C. Boyle are just a few authors with new books this season. J.K. Rowling’s newest novel, this one for adults, is The Casual Vacancy.


“Happy, happy, joy, joy!” is what a favorite customer said as she was describing a book to her friend. I smiled as I walked by. How often is one lucky enough to hear such exclamation? And to my great reward it was at Malaprop's. 


Keep happiness close to your heart. Choose to read and be part of the effort to keep our reading community safe. Your choice! I must mention to you that twelve regional writers and twelve Asheville poets celebrated Malaprop's 30th anniversary by contributing to books published by Malaprop’s own Burning Bush Press of Asheville. We thank all of them for putting Malaprop’s before any other consideration (like $) and supporting our literary community selflessly. Thank you Alicia Valbuena, Barbara Gravelle, Eileen Walkenstein, Genie Joiner, Maryann Jennings, Nancy Sanders, Patricia Harvey, Piri B’Racz Gibson, Sena Rippel, Virginia Haynes Redfield, and Zoe Durga Harber, the poets who, besides myself, contributed to Remember Me as a Time of Day, and to Brian Lee Knopp, John P. McAfee, Susan Reinhardt, Tony Earley, Gene Cheek, Wayne Caldwell, Fred Chappell, Vicki Lane, Tommy Hays, Alan Gratz, Linda Marie Barrett, and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, the writers who contributed to Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. Both books have been very warmly received by readers. Please take a moment to check them out next time you visit Malaprop’s.


Come join the poets of Remember Me as a Time of Day for an encore reading on Sunday, December 16 at 5pm!! Our last reading was standing room only and great fun. Mark your calendars and save the date for this special event.



“every little thing is everything”

Upcoming Events

Erika Marks


Two Mississippi Memoirists

Norman Wirzba

Local Investing with Amy Cortese

Panel Discussion on NC's Death Penalty

Pam Durban

Malaprops Bookstore/Café • 55 Haywood Street • Asheville, NC 28801
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