a bookish walk in NYC, part 1


As one does — or ought to, I suppose: during a springtime visit to Manhattan, we walked and walked and walked, and walked some more; more than twenty miles over the course of three days.


On our first morning in the city, we walked to the Morgan Library & Museum to stand in the line that had formed on the sidewalk, waiting for the museum to open. On that Friday, we wanted to be among the early birds into the Morgan’s astounding J.R.R. Tolkien exhibit. 


I’m sad to say that photography was not allowed in the exhibit, but if you’re a Tolkien fan, you can see some of the pieces here.


Afterwards, we explored the rest of the building, because the Morgan Library is not simply a museum space or a research library. The library itself is a work of art, built in 1906 to house J.P. Morgan’s private collection of books, prints, drawings, and artwork.


The library features three stories of floor-to-ceiling walnut bookshelves, filled with innumerable rare and antique books. Visitors can’t touch any of them, obviously, but you can look all you want, especially at the few featured in special display cases.



Not that we were allowed to try them out, but there are apparently staircases hidden behind bookcases that provide access to the elaborate balconies. The giant tapestry over the fireplace mantel is from the sixteenth century.



It may not be one of the standard tourist spots in Manhattan, but we highly recommend a visit to the Morgan Library when you find yourself in New York City.


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“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

W. Somerset Maugham

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”


“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

Marcel Proust

“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.”

Helene Hanff

“What a happy woman I am, living in a garden, with books … birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!”

Elizabeth von Arnim

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

Neil Gaiman

“The art of reading is … an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us; when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“When I … looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness.”

Elizabeth von Arnim