Ashvegas Hot Sheet: Bagatelle Books opens, POP Project celebrates milestone


Here’s more of what’s going around, especially on the book front in Asheville:

-Bagatelle Books celebrates opening: West Asheville’s first used and rare bookshop, Bagatelle Books, celebrated its opening with a party last weekend featuring live music from Tashi Dorji (record release), Sir Richard Bishop, and Spectral Habitat (Meg Mulhearn & Elisa Faires). The shop is located at 428 C Haywood Road in West Asheville. Bagatelle Books is the vision and work of Patrick Kutcher, whose 13 immersion in local bookstores includes work at The Captain’s Bookshelf, Downtown Books & News, and Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe helped him bring his dream of opening his own store to fruition, according to a press release. Bagatelle, whose name means a short musical composition or idea, as well as “a trifle,” is inspired by the bookstores of Argentina, where Kutcher traveled to research and develop an aesthetic for the shop, according to the release.  Kutcher stocks his handcrafted tulip poplar shelves with unusual and often rare and antiquarian titles that customers won’t find in other bookstores in town, as well as beloved classics, the news release states. Highlights of the collection include signed copies of works by science fiction author Octavia Butler and experimental composer (and Black Mountain College faculty member) John Cage, an original 16th Century title by theologian Denis the Carthusian, and a book on astronomical principles with moving parts (a facsimile of a 16th Century edition). While some of the rarest titles are priced accordingly, Bagatelle offers a wide selection, with books starting at as little as $2. Bagatelle shares a building with garden shop and café Flora, and Kutcher recently installed French doors between the two stores to create a sense of flow. When both businesses are open, Bagatelle’s customers can enjoy coffee amidst Flora’s plants. Flora’s customers can wander into Bagatelle to peruse the collection. Bagatelle is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., and from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. and Mon. (closed Tues.). The shop will host author events and readings.

POP Project milestones: The POP Project, an Asheville nonprofit dedicated to giving more people access to books and improving literacy, turns 10 years old this year and is celebrating by hitting a few milestones. The first happened on May 12, when POP (which stands for Pages Opening People) reached 50,000 lifetime books delivered, according to a press release. That total amounts to nearly a quarter million dollars worth of books distributed to places with needs throughout our community and state, all at no cost to the recipients. Those places include schools and detention centers. Here’s more:

“This is definitely not an overnight success story,” Executive Director Jim MacKenzie said in the news release. “Reaching 50,000 books delivered speaks to our dedication to the mission, our magnificent board members and volunteers, and a vision the community supports.”

For 2019, the POP Project is more committed than ever to ensuring the books they are entrusted with are used for constructive, personal expansion. Through the “10 for 10” Book Giving Campaign, POP is trying to impact the lives of 10,000 people by delivering 10,000 free books to area organizations by the end of their tenth year.

“We’ve never donated this many books before in a 12-month period,” said MacKenzie. “But the goal is worthy and we decided to challenge ourselves. I want to say it’s all hard work, but giving books is so much fun—it’s basically a year-long party.”

To date in 2019, POP has delivered more than 3,500 books toward that goal. With nearly half the year behind, there are still many books to be delivered by the year’s end. Community members and organization leaders in need of free books are asked to reach out to POP with their requests.

“If you agree that everyone is entitled to a good book, perhaps there is a place at POP for you,” said Sarah Giavedoni, Director of Donations and Volunteers. “POP is always seeking book donations, especially children’s books, as well as volunteers, book counters and categorizers, little free library builders and managers, and drivers. Please contact us if you feel our mission could become your mission.”