With crabs, history, crime and football, the personality of Baltimore is multifaceted. As such, books about Charm City reflect the varying aspects, from times gone by to more recent developments, both in fiction and non-fiction alike. These are the best books about Baltimore, perfect for locals and visitors alike.


I Beat The Odds (Credit= Pam Goldberg Smith)

M&T Bank Stadium
1101 Russell St.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
(410) 261-7283

“The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game”
The story that led to the hit 2009 film about Michael Oher, now offensive tackle for the Ravens, was published in 2006 by Michael Lewis. This outside perspective views the history of American football through the lens of Oher’s life and unlikely rise from nearly hopeless origins. This young man overcame poverty, homelessness, a drug-addicted mother and the pressures of living in a Memphis ghetto when he was taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family, giving Oher the opportunity to strive toward a different path in life. After getting his education and playing at the University of Mississippi, Oher was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.

“I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to the Blind Side, and Beyond”

Some may prefer to read the story from the man himself. Oher’s book, published earlier this year, adds much heart to his now-famous tale, with personal reflections on his youth and rise to fame. Yet #74 of the Ravens prefers to use his inspiring life story as an example to motivate others in similar situations, knowing all too well how impossible taking the first step seems. Oher is living proof that the children who seem destined to become drop-outs, criminals and young parents might just need some help to succeed, and so he encourages readers to reach out to these individuals.

Related: 5 Must-Read Books By Baltimore Authors


Charm City (Credit= Pam Goldberg Smith)

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

“Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore”
Madison Smartt Bell’s book, published in 2007, asks readers to accompany him through the streets of Charm City. He allows one to recognize Baltimore as a familiar American city with historical significance while peering into the eccentric parts that make it so unique. This is accomplished by visiting well-known areas such as Federal Hill, tourist locations like the Inner Harbor, as well as lesser known spots including Belvedere Square. With comments from other locals, this imaginary walk through the city becomes as real and intimate as a conversation with a best friend.

“Charm City”
Laura Lippman struck again using the Baltimore crime scene as inspiration. Published in 1997, “Charm City” follows the Baltimore reporter tasked with solving the murder of entrepreneur, “Wink” Wynkowski, who only wanted to bring basketball back to a city fond of baseball. When his criminal past is displayed on the front page of the Baltimore-Beacon Light — the editors maintain they never intended to print it — Wink is discovered dead in his car of asphyxiation. As always, Lippman paints a complete picture of Baltimore as Tess becomes ever the detective. Grab this and other books from the Tess Monaghan series at The Book Escape.

Related: Best Authors In Maryland


Washington Monument
699 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, Md. 21201
(410) 396-0929

“Baltimore: Then and Now”
Alexander D. Mitchell IV successfully takes images of the current and familiar and pulls the reader back in time with older pictures to discover how much has changed in Baltimore as well as what has remained the same. A perfect book for the coffee table or as a gift, this time capsule includes famous locations from Fort McHenry to the Maryland Zoo and, of course, the Inner Harbor. Many are certain to recognize the cover page of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. Though bringing much wonder, this historical book of photographs reminds Baltimoreans that what is seen today may change over the years, and not always for the better without maintaining a certain love for the city.


Dishing Up Maryland (Credit= Pam Goldberg Smith)

Baugher’s Orchards and Farm Market
1015 Baugher Road
Westminster, Md. 21158
(410) 857-0111

“Dishing Up Maryland: 150 Recipes from the Alleghenies to the Chesapeake Bay”
Farmer, gardener, chef and author Lucie Snodgrass promotes everything local in her recipe book, published in 2010. With recipes broken up by season, anyone will be able to create mouthwatering culinary delights, including summer salads, main courses with Southern flair and decadent desserts, all using fresh ingredients by local farmers and fisherman. One of the featured farms, Baugher’s, is open through Christmas Eve. Of course, no recipe book about Maryland would be complete without crab, with which Snodgrass provides soups, crab cakes and steamed crabs doused in Old Bay. This is certainly a must-have recipe book for any Maryland kitchen.

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 Examiner.com.