Baltimore is Still The City That Reads, Says Amazon

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citythatreadsLiving up to a slogan like the Greatest City in America is a tall order. But The City That Reads? That seems doable. And, as new data from Amazon shows, it’s actually possible to quantify.

The internet retail giant ranked Baltimore as the 12th best-read city in the country in a new list released this week. It’s not exact. Instead of books that a city has collectively read, it’s actually based on the number of books that a city has collectively bought from Amazon.¬†Suspiciously, the city where Amazon is headquartered — Seattle — came out on top. Maybe that same-day delivery will give us a competitive edge, after all.

Amazon also parsed the data to see what books these well-read city residents were reading. Move over Anne Tyler, Laura Lippman, Nora Roberts and Tom Clancy. In Baltimore, the most-bought book of the year was Gone Girl.

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  1. Yes, there’s Anne Tyler, Laura Lippman, Nora Roberts and Tom Clancy. But if you’re really reporting this, you should note that it was a star baseball player, Cal Ripken, who challenged the city to improve adult literacy by establishing the Cal Ripken, Jr., Lifelong Learning Center, dedicated to teaching adults to read, and a Baltimore Rhodes Scholar mayor, Kurt Schmoke, who first introduced the phrase Baltimore: The City That Reads.

    And that Baltimore’s literary presence is more than a handful of writers. And writers are encouraged, cultivated. There’s the Baltimore Literary Heritage Project, The Annual Baltimore Writers’ Conference, the Baltimore Book Festival, the annual Summer Writer’s Studio for students, Towson University’s Professional Writing Program (PRWR), The Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College; I’m sure I’ve missed others (I’m forgetting the one at JHU-sorry Jayhawks). And then, there are the other writers, plenty, either born or who lived in Baltimore, or who did some of their work here: Francis Scott Key, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, James Ryder Randall, Sidney Lanier, Otto Mergenthaler, Lizette Woodworth Reese, Edith Hamilton, W.E.B. Du Bois, Emily Post, Gertrude Stein, Upton Sinclair, H.L. Mencken, Christopher Morley, Katherine Anne Porter, Zora Neale Hurston, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Ogden Nash, Countee Cullen, Karl Shapiro, Dudley Randall, Walter Lord, Murray Kempton, Leon Uris, Russell Baker, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich, Frank DeFord, Barry Levinson and (in Eddie’s on Roland Avenue most Saturdays), John Waters.

    Not too shabby. (Why I’ll bet some of them even had Baltimore fish bowls!)

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