“On the Map” by Simon Garfield
My travel/map nerdiness is not a secret, so it came as no surprise to me when midway though Simon Garfield’s new book, “On the Map,” I was reading passages that amazed me out loud to my husband. I have a whole shelf of travel books and maps, my son’s room has a U.S. and a World map on the walls, and I wouldn’t dream of traveling somewhere without knowing the lay of the land.
Yeah, I loved this book.
But I don’t think a map obsession is necessary to enjoy this splendid piece of writing and history.
Garfield manages to narrate the entire history of cartography from Ptolemy to Google Maps in 400 fast-paced and completely readable pages. It’s no small feat. This could be a super boring book, but instead it’s one of the best things I’ve read in ages. I feel like I learned a million things I’ll never forget about fascinating pieces of history – the Mappa Mundi, Ogilby’s map of London, and the Vinland Map among others. Garfield also places notes recent advancements in mapping – J.K. Rowling’s Marauder’s Map from the “Harry Potter” series, Facebook/GPS tracking, and the marvels of mapping showcased in the world of video games – as the truly historical advancements that they are.
This book hits stores in January 2013, and I suggest you go get a copy if anything about maps or travel is interesting to you. I was sent an advance copy of this book, and it will remain on my shelf, in amongst the travel books, for a long time. Probably forever, if I’m being honest.