Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Hobbit’s (or Anyone Who Loves Books and Snacks) Guide to New York City

If you aren’t familiar with Hobbits, here’s one thing you need to know: They like food. There’s breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and then supper.

They also much prefer to stay home, curled up in their Hobbit holes, with a toasty fire, perhaps reading a book or two. Unless, of course, a certain wizard stirs up trouble and suddenly they find themselves on an adventure.

So if consider yourself much like a Hobbit and support multiple meals, but also find yourself in New York City, here’s a list of verified places to eat:

Posto NYC Thin Crust Pizza in Gramercy: Of course you have to eat thin crust in NYC. This was right by where I stayed. A cozy spot I’d definitely hang out if I lived near by.

Magnolia Bakery: Things I won’t pass up – a bakery. This one was the Grand Central Terminal location. A cupcake is a great pick-me-up!

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment: This place was recommended by several people. There’s a variety of fun drinks and the Harvest Collins was very refreshing! The decor reminded a bit of Austin – random, yet not :).

Wo Hop Chinese Restaurant: When you’re eating Chinese food in NYC, you have to go to Chinatown. If you get the chance to go to Wo Hop, you can expect a wait, large portions, and bring cash. All worth it though!

Ben’s Cookies: It started in Oxford, so I was supporting Tolkien and Lewis.

Levain Bakery: This place was recommended quite a bit as well and yes, delicious! I brought some home too. Also, DON’T JUDGE ALL THE BAKERIES I WENT TO INTERNET.

Sapori D’Italia: This place was fabulous! Located in Little Italy, it was super cute, everyone who worked there spoke Italian and it was packed late at night. I hope to one day make it back!

Black Tap Craft Burgers: I may have ate the burger before I got a good photo. My bad! I was really hungry. Definitely worth trying. They also have ridiculous milkshakes (we’re talking a piece of cake on top of the shake), so there’s that option as well.

Ess-a-bagel: I’m not much of a bagel person, but when in New York right? Photo by my friend Leslie.

I got so many incredible recommendations for food and all the places we eat at were recommendations. Since there’s about 50 I still need to try, just gotta go back right?

Finally, need a place to find a corner and read? New York has you covered. (You can read more about each store over at @bookstoreandlibrarylove)

And if you find yourself going on a big city adventure soon, be sure to download City Mapper App before you go. It shows all public transportation arrivals, travel times, routes, and everything you might need to go exploring. I’ll be using it for all future adventures!

Thanks for joining in the NYC adventures!

Inklings, Travel Adventures

A Long Expected Party in NYC

This past weekend I headed out to New York City to see the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at the Morgan Library and Museum. It started out last Fall in Oxford and is the first Tolkien exhibit in a good long while. Since I couldn’t quite make a trip to England happen, I was hoping it made it to the US and was so excited when they announced New York City as the city. That was much more possible. Then I found out about a Hobbit party and that sealed the deal.

I couldn’t take any pictures from the exhibit itself, but I loved it. There’s something enchanting and thrilling about seeing the thought process, writing notes, and doodles of an incredibly influential and favorite author. Tolkien was talented in so many ways, it’s almost ridiculous. I knew he designed many of his covers, but it was so awesome seeing his sketches, half painted ideas, and finished products.

I bought the book from the exhibit (you can get it online here) because I wanted to re-read and see all the extras. Here’s a couple spreads:

It also helped that the exhibit and party were held at The Morgan Library and Museum. This place is gorgeous! Turns out nearly 700 other people wanted to be a part of the fun too.

Did I also buy Hobbit Tea? Yes, yes I did.

If you’re in New York or close by, be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s there through May 12th and then moves to Paris later this year. Maybe I should support France’s efforts? Anyone want to send me? I promise to bring you back a souvenir 😆.


Wormwood Words: How “The Screwtape Letters” Brought Me Back to C.S. Lewis

Welcome to Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

(Quick intro – I’m super excited to have Wesley from Library Educated guest post today! I hope you enjoy!)

When Jamie asked me to guest post for Inklings Week my first two thoughts were “Well of course I want in on Inklings Week!” and “I can talk about C.S. for hours, this will be the easiest post I write all year.” That last one turned out to not be true. After a couple of false starts I decided the best thing for me to share with you is what brought me to C.S. Lewis as a young lady and why I’ve stayed with him as an adult.

When I was a little girl I distinctly remember reading The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. I remember thinking that it was exciting and not too scary. I eventually read the whole Narnia series, though none of the memories are as clear as reading about Aslan for the first time. After finishing the series I walked away from C.S. Lewis’ work for a long time. I knew that he had written other books, but I didn’t think I’d be very interested. The way that people talked about Lewis, in these hallowed almost hushed tones; and the way people quoted him I figured that his non-fiction, theological books would be heavy, dense reads. (Which was a dumb assumption, but you know what happens when you assume…)

One bored summer during high school my mom suggested I pick up The Screwtape Letters. A conversation between demons sounded interesting enough but sometimes I don’t do well with books that are formatted as letters (a.k.a epistolary books), but I gave it a shot. For those who aren’t familiar with this work, I’ll give a quick summary (or you can check out my review of it here or Jamie’s Inklings group discussion of it here.)

Demons of hell who are “tempters” are each assigned a human target (referred to in the book as the Patient). Their goal is to keep their target away from knowledge of God’s salvation and forgiveness until he is firmly in their camp with The Father Below (Satan). Screwtape is the rookie tempter who is assigned the Patient, but he gets some “loving” guidance from his uncle Wormwood. Screwtape thinks he’s doing a better job than he is actually doing, and his uncle gets increasingly frustrated with his screw ups (he actually gets so angry he turns into a centipede, because, in hell those things happen). Luckily, despite Screwtape’s best efforts the Patient holds strong to his Christianity and at the time of his death is welcomed into heaven. We don’t know exactly what happens to Screwtape but we know it’s not good. Being too lippy is not good in any job, especially if your boss is the actual Devil.

Reading Screwtape Letters opened up C.S. Lewis for me beyond Narnia. All the assumptions that I had made about his works were wrong. Lewis is funny; in a dry, witty, British way. It pops out when you least expect it but it’s always a delight. Lewis makes things approachable; he talks about theology and big religious concepts in a way that you can understand, but also he doesn’t talk down to you. The thing that gives me the most joy and peace when I read Lewis’ work is the sense of not being alone. Sometimes when he writes about a struggle he has I see my own struggle. Although faith is a very individual thing a lot of the struggles and joys are universal, and there is something comforting about that to me. I think Screwtape Letters is a great introduction to Lewis’ other works, though I encourage you to read everything that he has to offer!

Thank you so much Wesley! What about you readers – what book introduced to Tolkien or Lewis (or another favorite author)?