Moon Baltimore (Avalon Travel)
Brown used to occupy an office down the hall—he's Baltimore's former managing editor—so I know he's something of an expert on the city and what it has to offer. Here, he's the ultimate guide, pointing out must-see destinations and hidden gems, noting historic facts and fascinating footnotes, and sharing insider info on various aspects of life in Baltimore. As a result, this is the sort of guidebook that even locals will want to own.
Simon, the local physician in Ledger's debut novel, has a thriving practice—twice named a "Top Doc" in Baltimore magazine, she notes—and a talented wife, Emily, who works in public relations. Besides navigating challenging careers, the couple still struggles with the death of their only child, a tragic event from 15 years ago. That tragedy subtly colors their lives in shades of grey, and when Simon hires a perky college grad to assist him at the office, you think you know what's to come. You don't. In fact, Ledger, a former writer for Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, deftly shifts focus to Emily without ever losing sight of the couple's dynamic. It's well executed, with skillful precision and a stylish grace that exudes both empathy and wit.
The Orioles Encyclopedia (Johns Hopkins)
Not just a reference book, this tome is essential reading for Orioles fans. Consider it the bible of Birdland that long-suffering fans should consult for their spiritual, as well as sporting, needs. (After more than a decade of losing, it's great to be reminded of the glory days.) You can crack this book and find that, in 1969, the opening day lineup (Buford, Blair, F. Robinson, Powell, B. Robinson, Johnson, Etchebarren, and Belanger!) was virtually identical to the starting lineup in the last game of that season. That year, the O's won 109 games, and the Yankees finished 28½ games back. Flip a few pages, and you'll come across an excellent photo of Al Bumbry high-fiving "Disco" Dan Ford in 1983, the year we won the A.L. pennant and the World Series. It's a lot of fun, until you come across, say, the Albert Belle entry. But hey, there's Mark Belanger! There are color photos of Earl, Eddie, and Cal! And Brooks wrote the foreward! It's a far-reaching and fascinating document of a legendary baseball franchise, and, for that, Gesker deserves a heartfelt "Thank you-u-u-u."