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5 Must-Read Books By Baltimore Authors

No offense to Edgar Allan Poe, but we have "quoth the raven, nevermore," too often to count. To truly appreciate Baltimore literature, one must look at a wide array of books from an assortment of authors. From the recent to the historical, fiction or non-fiction, these local authors' voices represent the beautiful intricacies of a city with much personality.

Related: Best Independent Bookstores in Maryland

Tom Clancy
(credit: Pam Goldberg Smith)

"Hunt For Red October" - Tom Clancy

Buy it at:
The Book Escape
805 Light St
Baltimore, Md. 21230
(410) 504-1902

Tom Clancy may not have been destined to enter military life, having failed an ROTC eye exam at Loyola College, but that did not stop him from imagining what it could be like. Using international events for inspiration, in addition to carefully researching facts, Clancy wrote "The Hunt for Red October" (published 1984) which became quite famous after President Ronald Reagan complimented it, and was made into a film in 1990 starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. This intense underwater thriller follows Jack Ryan's belief that Soviet captain, Marko Ramius, who is heading for U.S. waters in the Red October submarine, does not intend to aim the sub's weapons at a major city but instead, is trying to defect to the United States. It is certainly worth it for any Baltimore resident to read Clancy's first of 15 #1 New York Times Best Sellers.

Laura Lippman
(credit: Pam Goldberg Smith)

"Baltimore Blues" - Laura Lippman

Buy it at:
730 Dulaney Valley Road
Towson, Md. 21204
(410) 832-2665

Crime fiction need not always be told from the male perspective, as local Laura Lippman has proved in her detective stories. Lippman started writing about the similar "Tess Monaghan" while working as a full-time reporter at The Baltimore Sun. "Baltimore Blues" (published 1997) became the first in a series following Tess, a former reporter now working part-time to pay the bills. When Tess' friend Rock becomes a suspect in the murder of his fiancé's lover, Tess looks to prove his innocence, though her involvement may only hold her more culpable. Lippman has admitted that her "subject is always, on some level, Baltimore" and so her books about Tess are sure to connect with Baltimore locals.

Atomic Books
Atomic Books (credit: Pam Goldberg Smith)

"Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets" - David Simon

Buy it at:

Atomic Books
3620 Falls Road
Baltimore, Md. 21211
(410) 662-4444

There must be something about The Baltimore Sun, as former journalist David Simon, creator of the hit HBO show "The Wire," also wrote a very worthy book reflecting the darker side of Baltimore. He served as a writer and producer of the television show "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993-1999), which was based on his book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets" (published 1991). This non-fiction work came out of Simon's year observing a homicide unit, following horrific crimes through the views of a veteran investigator, a rookie and a black detective in an overwhelmingly white unit.

Frederick Douglass
(credit: Barnes and Noble Classics)

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" - Frederick Douglass

Buy it at:
Towson Book Exchange
305 York Road
Towson, Md. 21204
(410) 832-0070

Though it is difficult to imagine slavery in Baltimore, it is where abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born in 1818. His first autobiographical "Narrative" (published 1845) is a miracle in that it captures his success at teaching himself to read and write in spite of unimaginable hardships. Douglass recalls, with great clarity, his early years on a Maryland plantation, his attempts to educate himself and his desire to escape the harsh life under a master's whip. This keen look at American history, not just relevant to Baltimore, is a must read for all.

(credit: Browne Press)

"Etiquette" - Emily Post

Buy it at:
Red Canoe Bookstore
4337 Harford Road
Baltimore, Md. 21214
(410) 444-4440

In an increasingly dog-eat-dog world, Baltimore's own Emily Post said it best when she asserted that "good manners reflect something from inside - an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self." Her guide, "Etiquette" (published in 1922), delved into proper conduct in society, business, politics, at home and various other situations which are still applicable today. Needless to say, many more people should give this book a close read.

Related: Best Comic Book Shops In Baltimore

Pam Smith graduated from Penn State with a B.A. in English and a passion for writing. Her adaptive nature led her to work in the scientific, energy supply and business industries while writing on a multitude of topics for various online media. Pam currently resides in Baltimore County. Her work can be found at

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