Get Free Email Updates!

Get progressive community news & events.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


WNC LEGACY: LITERATURE & BOOKSELLER Emoke Brac’z – A Life in Bookselling & The History of Malaprops

May, 2018

When I opened the doors of Malaprop’s thirty years ago on June 1, 1982, the first people who walked in the door were a threesome–Marnie, Sandi, and Gretchen. My first customer was a gentleman. We talked for a while and he purchased the Selected Works of Herman Melville, the Random House edition.

MalapropsEmokePic 1We became friends through the years and later I learned from him that he was the grandson of Houdini. His name was Henry Cohen, and the magic continues! Jimmie Margaret Gilliam and Geraldine Grossman read their work at our first poetry reading, Daniel Ladinsky was the first to read Hafiz at Malaprop’s, and Susun Weed presented our longest author event.

Time flies when you’re having fun, an apropos statement for my time selling books. I have been a bookseller since September 8, 1970. I know this because it was my Papa’s birthday that day. At times I lose breath when I realize many on my staff were not even born yet while I was already pushing good books into hands.  It is not a total addiction but very close. My library at home is taking over everywhere but I cannot part from these books that gave me the life I could only dream of. 

Malaprops BookstoreOutsideLinda and I were talking in the store about things and I heard myself say “Do what you live and money will follow” though maybe I should have said, “do what you LOVE and maybe money will follow.”  We agreed that loving what we spend our days on is a primary joy that complements the lives we lead.

There are days that put me to the test but I am always encouraged when I hear customers say things like “What a bookstore!” or “This is a real bookstore!”’ or  “I love the booksellers’ favorites and usually, that is where I choose my reads” or “That young man was giving me the best suggestion.” I love ordering books and hearing customers talk about the quality of Malaprop’s’ book selection and how they love to come back again and again. I am thankful to those customers who support the community we love by supporting the cultural venues that we call Malaprop’s and Downtown Books & News.

I tell you walking into either bookstore gives me a great thrill and at times I really enjoy lighting the fire under the booksellers by suggesting a rearrangement of this or that. There is a method to my madness but I can only feel what move needs to happen and cannot explain until I verbalize the movement at that moment. I would like to declare that perfection is not available to me and I am glad for it. Making mistakes at times gives me the best opportunities to learn more and more about my flexibility and the borders of what I call mySelf. So many times books came into my life just at the right time. In keeping with our 30th Anniversary, I will list the THIRTY authors who remain a constant in my reading life.

Gretel Ehrlich

Paul Auster

Margaret Atwood


ee cummings

Carolyn Forchè

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

bell hooks

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Carole Maso

Italo Calvino

Pascal Mercier

Charles Frazier

Suzanne Haden Elgin

Haruki Murakami

Yasunari Kawabata


William Faulkner

Ellen Douglas

Ellen Gilchrist

Fred Chappell

Hillary Jordan

Ursule Molinaro

Jeanette Winterson

Ann Patchett

Adrienne Rich

John Ehle

Nikos Kazantzakis

Louise Shivers

All authors I do read are like colors for my canvas. Even today after thirty years of “doing the bookselling” I can say never a dull moment and always a challenge in the best of ways. I do feel bookselling keeps me younger and I feel great pleasure when I have connected good writers with our readers. I love doing that.  I have realized and I quoted in our new anthology of poetry Remember Me as a Time of Day that “everything that can be saved will be saved by love.” Reading is a way to love imagination which affords opportunities to make the world a much better place for the youngins. That is the quest, is it not? Happy reading to one and all!

Thirty years after the birth of Malaprop’s, our goals are the same as the ones we committed to in 1982:

1. To be the best little bookstore/cafe in the land.

2. To enjoy what we do while we’re doing it.

3. To be aware and supportive of financial needs and ensure that bookselling is a fine and noble profession.


“every little thing is everything”

[email protected]     Malaprops Bookstore & Cafe

Also see: A History of Malaprops by Emoke B’Racz

SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events.

Subscribe to Articles