2017 Holiday Gift Guide

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Every year at about this time I post a gift guide that lists some of the noteworthy books about maps that have been published this year. If you have a map-obsessed person in your life and would like to give them something map-related—or you are a map-obsessed person and would your broad hints to have a link—this guide may give you some ideas.

Once again I’ve done my best to organize the books by theme. This is not a complete list of what’s been published in 2017. That’s what the Map Books of 2017 page is for: that page includes many, many other books that might also suggest themselves as gift possibilities.


It shouldn’t be a secret that I haven’t seen or read everything on these lists; I go by what information is publicly available. But two books I have seen, and can recommend. Both Stephen J. Hornsby’s Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (reviewed here) and The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World by John Davies and Alex Kent (reviewed here) are beautiful collections of historically significant maps with informative accompanying text.

Magnificently Miscellaneous

These books gather maps that are, shall we say, a bit off the beaten track. Cinemaps does for movies what his 2015 book Plotted did for books: it maps the storylines. Londonist Mapped is a collection of hand-drawn maps of the city; it’s out in the U.K. only for now. Meanwhile, James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Where the Animals Go, a very-interesting-looking collection of maps of animal tracks made from field biologists’ tracking data, finally has a U.S. edition.

Historical Map Collections

If you like collections of old maps, of course there’s Picturing America and The Red Atlas, mentioned above. Other options: the companion guide to the British Library’s 2016 map exhibitionMaps in the 20th Century: Drawing the Line, saw publication in the U.S. earlier this year; Philip Parker’s History of Britain in Maps is out now in the U.K. and coming to North America soonish; and Peter Whitfield’s Charting the Oceans and London: A Life in Maps (the latter accompanying a previous British Library exhibition) got new editions in 2017.

An Expensive Historical Atlas

Earlier this year, Princeton University Press published the English translation of Andrea Carandini’s Atlas of Ancient Rome. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous. At $200 (£150), it’s certainly expensive. But a 1,300-page, two-volumed, slipcased, historical atlas of ancient Rome might be, for the right person, absolutely the right gift. (See the book website.)

Atlases of Nonexistent and Unusual Places

This is a surprisingly well-populated genre of books: compendia of unusual geographies, obscure locations, map quirks and odd facts. Not so map-heavy as the other sections, but no less interesting to map fiends like us.

Alastair Bonnet’s Beyond the Map explores disputed enclaves, emerging islands and other idiosyncracies of geography (a U.S. edition is coming in 2018). Bjørn Berge’s Nowherelands looks at out-of-the-way countries that once existed, but don’t any more. Malachy Tallack’s 2016 book about islands that were once thought real but have since been removed from the map, The Un-Discovered Islands, now has a U.S. edition. Piotr Wilkowiecki and Michał Gaszyński’s Explorers Atlas (also U.K.-only for now) is an illustrated collection of factoids.

Other possibilities from last year include Atlas Obscura (reviewed here), Edward Brooke-Hitching’s Phantom Atlas, Travis Elborough’s Atlas of Improbable Places, and Aude de Tocqueville’s Atlas of Lost Cities. (Like I said: well-populated.)

World Atlases

The Oxford Atlas of the World gets a new edition every year: this year’s is the 24th. The various Times atlases come out on a more staggered schedule. This year saw updates to the Reference (which is inexpensive) and the Mini (which is cute and tiny and, hint hint, would fit nicely in a stocking).

For another option that’s still relatively recent, consider the Times Concise Atlas, the second largest Times atlas and roughly equivalent to the Oxford atlas; the 13th edition came out last year.

For More Books …

… see the Map Books of 2017 page.

(Links to Amazon are affiliate links; I get a small cut of any sales made.)