Thursday, March 31, 2016

Maps and the Fruits of Exploration

World Map 1636. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 17 Feb 2016.
We have written on the blog before about our fascination with maps, even though they don't always reflect the reality of the globe we're spinning on (hence the True Size website, which is a pretty fun tool). But maps can be more than an atlas, or a piece of paper that's really hard to fold up once it's unfolded, or an app on your phone. We've assembled some quotes from authors about the diverse qualities of maps - how maps affect people, stories that maps tell, the personal geographies that our lives become - and would like to share some books about maps and geography from the library catalog that we hope fit the tenor of the quotes.

Map People

There are map people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by. I have listened to accounts by such travelers in which every road number was remembered, every mileage recalled, and every little countryside discovered. Another kind of traveler requires to know in terms of maps exactly where he is pin-pointed at every moment, as though there were some kind of safety in black and red lines, in dotted indications and squirming blue of lakes and the shadings that indicate mountains. It is not so with me. I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found, nor much identification from shapes which symbolize continents and states.
~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Maps of Our Private World

Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.
~Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland

Story as Map

A story is a map of the world. A gloriously colored and wonderful map, the sort one often sees framed and hanging on the wall in a study full of plush chairs and stained-glass lamps: painstakingly lettered, researched down to the last pebble and participle, drawn with dash and flair, with cloud-goddesses in the corners and giant squid squirming up out of the sea...[T]here are more maps in the world than anyone can count. Every person draws a map that shows themselves at the center.
~Catherynne M. Valente, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland

No Compass

Amazing where your life can deposit you before you know it. One, two, three, and you're on a completely different road than the one you'd always expected to be on at this point in your life. There is no compass when such things happen, no rules and no maps to guide you, and no one who cares if the sun is glaring or if the asphalt is melting beneath your tires.
~Alice Hoffman, Blue Diary

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

The Trivia Lover's Guide to the World: Geography for the Lost and Found by Gary Fuller

The World's Weirdest Places by Nick Redfern [eBook] 

How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines by Mark Stein 

Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations by Olivier Le Carrer, Sibylle Le Carrer

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