City Lights Bookstore * 3 E. Jackson Street, Sylva, NC


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To help slow the spread of Covid-19, we are only allowing entry to nine browsers at a time. Wear a mask and try to give other folks a six-foot berth. Book orders will mail for as little as 99 cents. Curbside service remains available during our curtailed hours: 10-6 Mon.-Sat.

#GiveBooks - Buy Gift Cards for use online or at the bookstore

Used Book trade-ins limited to small batches, considered on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 5 p.m. 

Phone 828-586-9499

For curb service, redial after a few minutes if your call goes straight to voicemail.


Keith Flynn & Sebastian Matthews Virtual Event

Join us on Saturday, December 5th, at 3 p.m. for a virtual event with Keith Flynn and Sebastian Matthews. The event will broadcast via Facebook Live and will feature live readings of recent works by both authors.

The Skin of Meaning is award-winning poet Keith Flynn’s sixth and most wide-ranging collection, seeking to find the tangible analogs and visceral meanings hidden behind the daily bombardment of digital information, hoping to restore the mystery in our involvement with language. From the etymologies of pop culture, history, astronomy, and rock and roll, these poems fan out into a bold multiplicity of voices and techniques. Flynn’s work illustrates the meaning that is also created through tense collisions and is populated with figures in resistance to the status quo, a gathering as varied as Caravaggio, Nina Simone, Gaudi, Villon, Wonder Woman, and Manolete. The final section examines America’s fascination with violence and death, revealing that “a human being in love with mystery is never finished.” This collection constantly challenges our assumptions about the world we think we see and is teeming with evidence of another invisible world bristling like an underground river beneath our feet.

Sebastian Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps, and two books of poetry, We Generous and Miracle Day. His hybrid collection of poetry and prose, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision, won the Independent Publishers Book Award’s silver medal. Matthews is also the author of the collage novel The Life & Times of American Crow and the memoir-in-essays Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State

The Skin of Meaning Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597098489
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Red Hen Press - April 14th, 2020

Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597094368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Red Hen Press - August 25th, 2020

Colony Collapse Disorder Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609402945
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wings Press - April 1st, 2013

Beginner's Guide to a Head-On Collision Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597096027
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Red Hen Press - September 19th, 2017

The Rhythm Method, Razzamatazz, and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941209998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Press 53 Carolina Classics Editions - February 14th, 2019

We Generous Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597090872
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: Red Hen Press - March 1st, 2007

Ron Rash Returns to the World of Serena

Ron Rash's latest book was released on August 4th. Reserve copies of In The Valley which further develops Serena and her devastation of western North Carolina through short stories and a novella. We expect to have signed copies available soon.

Staff Pick Badge
In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on SERENA Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385544290
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - August 4th, 2020

Even As We Breathe, These Mountains, F*ckface

While enjoying a beer across the porch from my neighbor, the author David Joy, it struck him that my bookstore could offer our customers a fine trio of fiction later this summer. Here's the plan: we'll bundle David's forthcoming novel, When These Mountains Burn, with the two best debuts to come out of Appalachia in 2020: Leah Hampton's collection, F*ckface, and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle's novel, Even As We Breath. These three books also represent three adjoining counties and the Qualla Boundary, all in southwestern North Carolina. Order them now, and readers will get signed first editions--one in July, one in August, and one in September--delivered to any U.S. address for free. We'll also discount the third book in your order by 20%, applied after checkout before we process your payment. So, if you've already pre-ordered one or two of these titles from us, just reference the "Even As We Breathe, These Mountains, F*ckface" promotion to receive the discount on the third. Order online or phone us at 828-586-9499. We'll leave it up to you how to handle the expletive when you call. - Chris, prop. City Lights Bookstore

Staff Pick Badge
F*ckface: And Other Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250259592
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - July 14th, 2020


Do you find the title of this book off-putting? Please, read the poignant title story, which upsets any preconceived notions that the name conjures. Such prejudice is an apt chord to strike at the beginning of a collection of stories set in the southern Appalachians, a region too often dismissed and demeaned by outsiders unwilling to grapple with nuance once they've made up their minds. F*ckface marks the debut of a major literary talent and is a fresh addition to the southern Gothic canon. I predict that having read that first story, you'll find yourself drawn into the rest of this excellent collection. Enjoy the richness! -- Chris Wilcox

Staff Pick Badge
When These Mountains Burn Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525536888
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - August 18th, 2020

In When These Mountains Burn, David Joy tackles the heavy issues of the people and mountains he has come to love. He accomplishes this with what I love most about his books: fast-paced and heartfelt prose.

-- Eon Alden

Staff Pick Badge
Even as We Breathe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781950564064
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fireside Industries - September 8th, 2020

We can't wait to read this debut! -- 

COVID-19 Precautions

City Lights Bookstore is offering phone, curbside, and online service, and at this time, we are allowing entry to as many as nine customers at a time. Please wear a mask and allow others a six-foot berth. Our curtailed hours are 10-6 Mon.-Sat.  We are monitoring this NC Dept. of Health and Human Services page and this CDC page for the latest guidance.

We had scheduled some events for the coming weeks — we've canceled in-store events for the foreseeable future. 

We are taking common-sense precautions and hope you will, too:

  • wiping down all hard surfaces with disinfectant throughout the day
  • waving hello, not shaking hands
  • maintaining > 6-foot social distance 
  • washing hands often
  • wearing face masks
  • avoiding touching our faces
  • staying home if sick


We hope that all will be well. We want to be here, selling books, etc., for another 35 years. But we do need to sell books to pay the rent, utilities, meet payroll, and so on. Things have been going okay, but if you can't visit us, we would greatly appreciate:

Thanks for reading!


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