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.
A total of 17 books are included in this year’s guide, loosely organized by theme. The focus is on books that are visual and of interest to the general reader;1 this does not even try to be a complete list of what’s been published this year. For that, check out the Map Books of 2018 page, which may suggest other gift ideas to you.
First, the Headlines
The biggest book this year, at least by weight, is without question the new (15th) edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. The Comprehensive is the granddaddy of the Times atlas line: big and slipcased and heavy, it dwarfs all but the National Geographic atlases. It also has the most ridiculously massive—but functional—bookmark I’ve ever seen. I’ve received a review copy and should have a review for you very soon. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)—it’s significantly discounted today.
In Canada at least, the most significant map-related book of the year is undoubtedly the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. See my post about it. This four-volume slipcased set is available in English and French versions, as well as online. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
Those looking for a book that is about maps in all their splendour, of all kinds, from all periods, should take a look at All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey. It’s by our friends Betsy Mason and Greg Miller, who write the eponymous blog for National Geographic. I just got a review copy within the last week so I haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but that’s coming. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
If you want something fun, check out The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book, a “mix of navigational tests, word games, code-crackers, anagrams and mathematical conundrums.” It’s out in the U.K. only; North Americans will have to try third-party sellers on Amazon (or elsewhere) or order directly from British vendors. Buy at Amazon U.K.
Several books this year collect beautiful reproductions of vintage maps. I’ve reviewed two of them: Tom Harper’s Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library (reviewed here) and Susan Schulten’s History of America in 100 Maps (reviewed here). Add to that list Thomas Reinertsen Berg’s apparently idiosyncratic Theatre of the World (blog post) and The Golden Atlas, where Edward Brooke-Hitching focuses on cartography and exploration.
The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands is a gorgeously illustrated collection of essays by writers and illustrators about how maps and stories inspire one another. As I say in my review on Tor.com, it’s basically a writer’s love letter to maps. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
Manchester: Mapping the City is a collection of vintage maps, whereas Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas brings its own colourful and data-driven cartography to the table. Artist Adam Dant has two books out this year: Maps of London and Beyond is an outgrowth of his maps for Spitalfield Life (my blog post); Living Maps: An Atlas of Cities Personified looks at 28 cities around the world.
Military and War
Scotland: Defending the Nation is a collection of Scottish military mapping and maps of Scotland made by aggressors. See my blog post. Will be released in the U.S. after Christmas. Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
(Links to Amazon are affiliate links; I get a small cut of any sales made, which helps me keep producing this website.)