Book Recommendations

Truth and reconciliation, reparations and transformation are a priority in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. We are committed to making different choices than those who came before us, particularly as it relates to the Church’s role in slavery and systemic racism. We cannot do this without first discovering and telling the truth. Below are some books to help you get to know Baltimore better, its charm and its history. Understanding that we, together in the present day, have the power to make decisions as powerful as those that were made in the past, the power to repent, to turn around, to have a vision for and create a world that represents the Beloved Community, where we follow the Biblical mandate to do justice (love on a large scale) and recognize the dignity and value of every child of God, every human being.

We also believe in the power of storytelling. It would be impossible to list all of the books written about Baltimore and by Baltimore writers. The below titles are recommended by the Diocese of Maryland because we have experience with authors and their work. We have also included a small list of famous Baltimorean writers and stories on locations they lived in or visited, including some of our churches! For more information on Baltimore’s bookishness and literary history, browse Visit Baltimore. Learn about Baltimore’s spirit through the power of story by experiencing its literary scene.

For more information on Baltimore, its films, TV series, restaurants, cultural events, businesses and more, please browse Visit Baltimore.

NONFICTION
TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

“As soon as I did that, I looked at the pattern of green dots, which represented African Americans,
and that pattern in East Baltimore and West Baltimore looked like the wings of the butterfly…
It seemed very apparent to me that this was a pattern I could refer to
if I want to talk about how Baltimore is very segregated.”

Dr. Lawrence Brown
author of The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America

Dr. Brown’s work includes research on the role the white Church played
in creating a segregated community in Baltimore. This book is useful
for any congregation seeking to understand how the Church has benefitted
from racism and how we can make different choices for our beloved community.

 

FAMOUS WRITERS IN BALTIMORE

“‘[Literacy] will forever make him unfit to be a slave.
He will at once become unmanageable and of no value to his master.’
These words sank deep in my heart.
From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.”

Frederick Douglass

EDGAR ALLAN POE HOUSE

Edgar Allan Poe, writer, poet, inventor of detective fiction, is probably most famous for his poem “The Raven.” He spent time in Baltimore off and on through his entire life.

WESTMINSTER BURYING GROUND

Opened in 1786 by Baltimore’s First Presbyterian Church, the Westminster Burying Ground is the resting place for many of early Baltimore’s most notable citizens, including Edgar Allan Poe, as well as merchants, mayors, and fifteen generals from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.

EDGAR ALLAN POE STATUE

Over the years the Poe statue suffered from neglect, vandalism, and weather damage. In 1983, the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore recommended the statue be moved to the Gordon Plaza at the University of Baltimore where it still stands today. Watch the story of the young woman who restored the statue.

JON DOS PASSOS AT THE PEABODY LIBRARY

Heralded as “the greatest writer of our time” by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, John Dos Passos spent time in and out of Baltimore from his birth in 1896 and lived here from 1950 until his death in 1970.

GERTRUDE STEIN ON E. BIDDLE STREET

In 1892, at age 18, newly-orphaned Gertrude and her brother Leo moved to Baltimore. Her experiences in Baltimore paved the way for her later successes, as she wrote in her biting 1925 piece “Business in Baltimore”: “Once upon a time, Baltimore was necessary.”

CARL SANDBURG AT OLD ST. PAUL'S RECTORY

In 1934, Carl Sandburg wrote to Sally Bruce Kinsolving, “The years go by and I don’t forget ever the long evening of song with you… at your house and faces and stories and moments out of that visit to Baltimore. I’m hoping to drop in again soon.”

EDNA ST. VINCENT MILAY AT EMMANUEL EPISCOPAL CHURCH

It was in 1925 on one of her tours that Mrs. Sally Bruce Kingsolver asked her to read at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church for the Poetry Society of Maryland. What poems she read is not recorded but she surely read with the passion of one who rubbed so far against the grain. 

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD AT 1307 PARK AVENUE

In August 1933, F. Scott Fitzgerald moved with his family to 1307 Park Avenue. Fitzgerald had been forced out of his previous home in Towson due to a house fire attributed to his mentally ill wife, Zelda. Their rowhouse, a ten-minute walk from the monument of Fitzgerald’s famous distant-cousin, Francis Scott Key, was the last place where he and Zelda lived together.

H.L. MENCKEN HOUSE

“As much a part of me as my own two hands,” is how Henry Louis Mencken described his house at 1524 Hollins Street and his personality can be seen in everything from the parquet floors to the garden tiles.

JOHN H.B. LATROBE HOUSE

The John H.B. Latrobe House is the only surviving site associated with the “Saturday Morning Visiter” writing contest that launched Edgar Allan Poe’s literary career. On an evening in October 1833, Latrobe, along with John Pendleton Kennedy and James H. Miller, read Poe’s “Ms. Found in a Bottle” and unanimously declared him the winner.

H.L. MENCKEN AND SARA HAARDT ON CATHEDRAL STREET

While living in the apartment, Sara’s health, which had always been poor, continued to deteriorate. Mencken recalled that when he “married Sara, the doctors said she could not live more than three years… actually, she lived five, so that I had two more years of happiness that I had any right to expect.”

OGDEN NASH AT 4300 RUGBY ROAD

After a brief stint in New York, Ogden Nash returned to Baltimore in 1934 and wrote: “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more.” Nash grew up in Rye, New York and first came to Baltimore for love.