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:
three decorative maps of Toronto (two from Kid Icarus in Kensington Market in Toronto, one from Ork Posters)
a framed handprinted map of the Jesuit Missions in Argentina, printed in Buenos Aires from the original 18th (?) century plates
four reproduction historical maps from the Clements Library at the University of Michigan
handprinted wrapping paper (from Kid Icarus, again) of the railway lines in the Great Lakes area and
(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.