For dinner guests who like maps

One of the running jokes among my friends, librarians and non-librarians alike, is that my dinner parties always degenerate (or advance?) into the same situation: all my friends are sitting on the couch, reading.

Often, they are reading a book about maps, and if so, it is likely to be either Strange Maps: an Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs or
Transit Maps of the World, by Mark Ovenden. You should definitely check out these books if you’re the kind of person who owns a pillowcase adorned with the map of the London Underground, or if you chose books as a child (or as a teenager, or as an adult) based on whether they contained a detailed map of an imaginary country on their endpapers.

Or, indeed, if you are the kind of person, like me, who covets a handprinted modern map of the world for your living room, , even though you already own, as a household:

(OK, I admit it, we have a map problem. And no, we don’t plan to change).

What is it about these books that makes my guests abandon conversation and sit on my couch as if glued there by an invisible force, staring fascinatedly at pages?

Adults like picture books as much as kids. They like imagining other worlds, whether those are imaginary or simply far away. And a good map contains a phenomenal amount of information, that begs to be puzzled over, to be discovered, and discussed.

Also, our friends are big nerds, just like us. In the best possible way.

Eisenhower Interstate System

Schematic Map of the Eisenhower Interstate System, by Rebecca Brown, via Flickr Creative Commons Licence – This map appears on page 168 of Strange Maps
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8 thoughts on “For dinner guests who like maps

  1. Both my husband and I would be those guests fascinated by the printed version of maps. We have not investigated “why” we are so interested in the printed maps. We do not own a GPS, but purchase maps of the areas we intend to travel and study this.

    • We don’t have a GPS either (although the irony of all this is really that I have an extremely bad sense of direction and can barely find my way around in real life, so could probably use a GPS!). I’d recommend the book Map Head by Ken Jennings if you want to read more about why people love printed maps. It’s really a great read.

      • I just finished reading Maphead (discovered I am not a geography wonk or a maphead, but instead, I have cartophelia!!) and a friend suggested The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen. I loved! it. Way fun map drawing.
        I love maps, and love when books include maps.
        Came to your site through Small Notebook. I’ll be back!

  2. Pingback: Review: Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum « Bronwen reads

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