806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Reading & Talk by J.D. Barker at City Books

J.D. Barker

Saturday, September 9th
7:00-9:00 pm

In 2014, J.D. indie-published his first novel, Forsaken, and through perseverance, ingenuity and creative marketing, took the title to the top of the bestseller lists around the world. His second novel, The Fourth Monkey, sold to traditional publishers for advances in excess of $1 million. His third novel, a prequel to Dracula, co-authored with Dacre Stoker and based on Bram Stoker’s original notes, sold in late June 2017 at auction to a Big 5 publisher. Two feature films and a network television program are in the works based on his novels. A native of Illinois, J.D. splits his time between Pittsburgh and Englewood, Florida. For more information about J.D. Barker, click here.

In addition to reading from his books…

J.D. will be talking about his experience with self-publication including:

  • Agent or no agent?
  • Freelance editors
  • Query letters
  • What is co-op?

A book signing will follow the event.

An Evening of Poetry on April 22

Independent Bookstore Day

Join City Books in celebration of National Poetry Month on Saturday, April 22 at 7:00 pm when we host two of Pittsburgh best local poets.


Jennifer Jackson BerryJennifer Jackson Berry’s first full length collection of poetry The Feeder was released from YesYes Books in December 2016. The manuscript was offered publication from the 2015 Pamet River Prize finalist list. She is also the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications 2014) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press 2003). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Pittsburgh Poetry Review and Assistant Editor of WomenArts Quarterly Journal. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic and lives in Pittsburgh.

Jay CarsonJay Carson holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and taught at Robert Morris University for many years, where he was a faculty advisor to the student literary journal, Rune. Now a full-time writer, Jay is the author of a chapbook, Irish Coffee, and a longer book of poetry, The Cinnamon of Desire. He has published more than 80 poems in local and national journals, magazines, and collections, including Connecticut Review, Folio, The Fourth River, Edison Literary Review, Louisville Review, and Southern Indiana Review.

Mardi Gras at City Books on February 28th

Celebrate Mardi Gras with Literature!

Join City Books on Tuesday, February 28th from 7:00-9:00 pm for an energetic evening of language and poetry with Marc Nieson and Adriana E. Ramirez.

Marc NiesonMarc Niesson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His background includes children’s theatre, cattle chores, and a season with a one-ring circus. His memoir, Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love & Landscape, was released from Ice Cube Press in 2016. He’s won a Raymond Carver Short Story Award, Pushcart Prize nominations, and been noted in Best American Essays. He teaches at Chatham University, edits fiction for The Fourth River, and is at work on a new novel, Houdini’s Heirs.

Adriana E RamirezAdriana E. Ramírez is a Mexican-Colombian writer based in Pittsburgh. She won the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize in 2015 for her novella-length work of nonfiction, Dead Boys, and in 2016 was named Critic at Large for the Los Angeles Times Book Section. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica/PEN America, Literary Hub, Convolution, and on She was featured in the2014 Legends of Poetry Slam Showcase and in TEDxHouston, as well as in the 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival. Her debut full-length work of nonfiction, The Violence, is forthcoming from Scribner.

See you at City Books for both readings…

City Books Invites You to Plays-in-Progress: Staged Readings

Plays In Progress

Join City Book this Saturday, February 11, from 7:00-9:00 pm for an evening of staged dramatic readings from five Pittsburgh-area playwrights. The event is free.

A staged reading is a performance of a play without costumes or sets, voiced by actors while seated or moving only minimally. The stage directions are read aloud by a narrator. The purpose of a staged reading is to provide the writer or director insight into the effectiveness of the drama while it’s being developed. Audience feedback after the show is an integral part of the process. Celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early and experience the collaborative energy of drama as it’s made. Please see the City Books website for bios of the playwrights.

Jazz Concert at City Books

City Books Concert

Join City Books on Saturday, January 14 from 7:00-8:30 pm
The Kyle Simpson Jazz Collective

Hear Kyle on trumpet, along with Paul Thompson on bass and Alex Ayers on keyboard. Kyle calls these guys his “dream team,” so you can be sure it is going to be a terrific night of jazz music. For a sneak preview, listen to “Allegheny Commons Stroll.”

Kyle SimpsonKyle Simpson, composer, trumpet player, and bandleader, is a graduate from Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI and The University of Montana in Missoula, MT. His composition teachers were Fred Sturm at Lawrence and Charles Nichols at The University of Montana. Simpson has written many works for large jazz groups, chamber jazz groups, solo trumpet, synthesized electronic music, Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. His compositions have been featured at the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival in Missoula, where he also performed with Lew Soloff and Paquito D’Rivera. Other compositions have been featured at the Fête de la Musique Ile d’Yeu, France(2011), Uzmah Upbeat Croatia (2014), Charlotte New Music Festival (2013), Ostrava Days Czech Republic (2011), and The Henry Mancini Institute(2006), Los Angeles. Simpson’s music has been described as, “lively with rhythmic vitality” and also, “lyrical with a brooding elegance.”

A former Northside resident, Simpson currently lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA where he is an Assistant Professor teaching instrumental music at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA. He is also presently in the DMA program in composition at West Virginia University studying with Dr. Joseph Dangerfield and Dr. Sarana Chou.

Check out Kyle’s website for more information.

The Taming: A Reading by A.M. Rycroft at City Books

Location: City Books, 908 Galveston Avenue
Date: Monday, July 25th
Time: 7-8:30pm
Event Link: HERE

A dark fantasy tale, The Taming follows the brash Thystle Moran, sword for hire. Only one job has ever bothered her, one that promised to be easy money, but ended in the death of her friend. Now, an imp with questionable motives says her friend’s death was no accident. Thystle seeks retribution as her world spirals out of control. She faces off against her dark past, a betrayal, feelings for a young woman, and the interests of a shadowy group known only as the Immortals. Can she ever just catch a break?

Local Business Spotlight: City Books

Submitted by Karen Beer

In March, Allegheny West residents and bibliophiles from around the city welcomed the reopening of City Books at 908 Galveston Avenue. Owner Arlan Hess, a former literature and creative writing professor at Washington & Jefferson College, had visited City Books’ Southside location many times over the years. By late 2012, Arlan felt restless teaching, and started looking for other options. She’d heard that then-owner Ed Gelblum was planning to retire, and in the winter of 2014–2015, Arlan spent time in the store learning the business. The sale of the inventory was finalized in April 2015, and Arlan set out to find the perfect spot for the store. She landed right here in Allegheny West. “This area of the Northside has a very different feel because it combines residential and commercial in such close proximity that it feels more like Brooklyn than Pittsburgh,” says Arlan. “Like many city neighborhoods lately, it’s being rediscovered – and discovery is an important characteristic of used bookstores. Allegheny West is both a destination location and a walkable neighborhood.”

Arlan Hess

City Books owner, Arlan Hess (City Paper)

So far, she’s thrilled with the location. “My experience in Allegheny West has been better than I ever could have hoped for,” Arlan affirms. “The neighborhood has welcomed us with open arms and I will be forever grateful for that.” Coming from an academic background, Arlan had reservations about the business aspect, but she is glad that she hasn’t had to struggle to make herself known. “Being welcome in the community has gone a long way in assuaging my fears about making such a drastic career change.”

City Books shoppers can expect a mix of old-world charm and modern customer service. “I wanted to keep as much of the soul of the original store as possible, while making it more responsive in terms of customer service, special orders, and new & independent titles,” Arlan says. Curation of the inventory is important in such a small space. Arlan tries to keep as many of her favorite authors as possible, though through frequent recommendations, it can be hard to keep works from Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, William Trevor, Colm Tobin and John Irving on the shelves. With a graduate degree in poetry, Arlan gravitates towards poets, including Billy Collins, Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop and Marie Howe. She realizes that her tastes aren’t necessarily what everyone wants to read, though, so she aims for a good mix of English language writers, some literature in translation, some foreign language titles, and an extensive selection of nonfiction. “I’d like to think that readers will be surprised at how many really good books we have on the shelves for being as small as we are.”

Look for upcoming events in the store, such as book signings, poetry readings, lectures and staged readings of plays. Arlan also hopes to welcome book clubs into the space. She sells some gift items now, and intends to expand her collection of locally made gifts. She is always looking for books, and will offer store credit for trade-ins, based on the age, condition and resale value of the title. Keep an eye out for event updates on the AWCC e-Newsletter, and in the meantime, head over to City Books to get a head start on your summer reading.

City Books: 908 Galveston Avenue
(412) 321-READ (7323)