Literary City Guide | COLUMBUS, OHIO
Tour Guide: AMANDA PAGE
Amanda Page is a college professor, essayist, and freelance writer who enjoys long walks with her two dogs, hiking, traveling, and trying new desserts.
Relationship to Columbus: I've lived here off and on since I graduated high school. I came to Columbus once to attend OSU, but transferred after a year because it was too big for my taste. My first class was bigger than my entire high school. I moved back after college, and then left to go to grad school out of state. I eventually moved back in 2011, to be near the highest concentration of close friends. Also, a lot of folks from my hometown, which is a two-hour drive south of the city, end up in Columbus, either from attending college here and staying, or moving here for work. I like that it feels so connected to my hometown.
Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Meghan Daum
Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Darrell Grimmett, a local chef and a personal friend.
Writing soundtrack: The sound of my dogs sighing and scratching.
Pen or Pencil: Pen. Preferably black ink.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Paperback or Hardback? Paperback
The Book Loft. Thirty-two rooms of books form a labyrinth in which readers can get blissfully lost until 11PM at this German Village staple. The converted mansion offers discounts on all titles - new and old.
Karen Wickliffe Books. You don't know what you'll find when you enter this family-owned Clintonville bookstore. Stacks of used books line the aisles, but the shelved titles are in spectacular order.
Acorn Books. A used book paradise in Grandview, this store has been called, "The literary equivalent of Cheers."
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Located across from the Wexner Center on the Ohio State University's campus is a library and museum dedicated to cartoon and comic book art.
Columbus Public Library. The main branch of the Columbus Public Library is a glorious site in the downtown landscape. Easy access to parking and private study rooms make it an ideal place to browse the stacks or spend a day writing in the quiet company of books and readers.
The Ohio Historical Connection Archives/Library. On the second floor of the Ohio History Connection, a museum and cultural center in the center of the city, there's a library primarily used by genealogy enthusiasts. The staff is extremely helpful, and willing to dig deep into archives to help you find what you're looking for - be it the name of a great aunt or the history of a particular road.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Thurber House. Columbus was home to James Thurber, the famous humorist and author of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In this haunted house that Thurber once lived in, classes are offered for students of all ages. The Thurber House Evenings with Authors hosts a fine selection of well-known writers. The house is open for tours, as well.
Ohio State University's Visiting Writers Series. The English department at OSU brings a formidable amount of talent to Columbus every year in the form of its Visiting Writers Series.
Paging Columbus. On the first Thursday of every month, you can come to this event in the OSU Urban Arts Space. The theme changes monthly, the authors are local, and the whole shebang is curated and produced by Columbus poet Hannah Stephenson.
The 'Word is Art' Stage. Every June at the Columbus Arts Festival, a number of poets take the stage after being selected from an impressive audition process. It's Columbus' way, too, of acknowledging that literature is an important part of the city's artistic identity.
Wild Goose Creative. A variety of productions will keep you coming back to this arts and culture space in the University District. Local artists sometimes curate special shows. Improv groups, storytellers and a 24-hour reading of Moby Dick have all called the space home.
Franklin Park Conservatory. This lovely conservatory is not far from downtown. It's a great place to walk around for inspiration or stop to sit and write. Indoor and outdoor art installations, such as giant bugs or glass sculptures are always interesting and though-provoking. Stop by when the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra plays.
Hemingway's Coffee Nook. A tiny stop in an office building on the Columbus Commons park downtown, this coffee shop serves decadent drinks named after your favorite ex-pat writers.
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse. When you come to this coffeehouse, you're supporting more than this downtown business. You're supporting the efforts of people fighting to end hunger and human trafficking, and to bring clean water to countries in need.
Fox in the Snow. What was once a garage is now a cafe and bakery in Italian Village. Named after the Belle & Sebastian song, this modest shop is full of light and offers decadent baked goods that are artfully arranged on the counter next to the register.
Kafe Kerouac. Stop in to this North Campus staple for a coffee inspired by your favorite writer. Stay for some live music, the Wednesday night poetry slam with Scott Woods, or to browse the used books and vinyl available for purchase.
A PROPER MEAL
The Angry Baker. Plenty of vegan options at this corner cafe in Olde Towne East. Get there early for brunch, and take a baked item to go.
Harvest Pizza. With locations in both German Village and Clintonville, you're never too far from this pizzeria's creative appetizers and robust list of available toppings.
Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails. Comfort food at its best. Try the pot roast at this downtown dinner establishment from Columbus restaurateur Liz Lessner.
Angry Bear Kitchen. The sandwich board says "Food & Liquor," but there's so much more to this Old North hidden gem. Fresh, creative fare that's perfect for a nice night out on the town.
The Sycamore. Make a reservation or you might have to squeeze in next to the bar for a bit. It's worth the wait for your supper at this German Village gastropub, though. The Banana Tartlet is a delicious decision after your "standard tavern fare done with care."
Mozart's Bakery & Piano Cafe. Enjoy a taste of Austria at this Clintonville institution. Come for dinner or for a slice of the famous Sacher Torte.
Pistacia Vera. Oh my, the macaroons. This German Village sweet shop offers a delightful array of macaroons (try the Lime Basil!) as well as treats such as the Crème Brule Éclair. You can also buy their yummy wares at their second location in the North Market.
Laughlin's Bakery - Tucked into a cozy corner on a side street in The Short North, Laughlin's has the best cheese danish in the city - hands down. They're also known for an imaginative selection of cake flavors, as well. It's a nice Sunday morning stop before window-shopping along this eclectic section of High Street.
AMANDA'S 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: Of all time? Where the Ohio & Scioto Rivers meet. In Columbus? The city skyline from Scioto Audubon Metro Park.
2. Favorite place to write: My desk
3. Favorite museum: The Wexner Center
4. Favorite coffee shop: The Roosevelt
5. Favorite thing about Columbus: The ravines. Columbus is pretty flat. I grew up surrounded by hills. The ravines in Columbus help me cope with the rest of the city's flatness.