2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Every year at about this time—

(Actually no, check that, this year I’m late; and last year I didn’t post one at all except for this stationery guide.)

—I post a gift guide that lists some of the noteworthy books about maps that have been published this year.

(Actually . . . this year not very many books were published. Thanks, pandemic. I’ve had to expand my scope a bit 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 like your broad hints to have something to link to—this guide may give you some ideas.

Please keep in mind that this is not a list of recommendations: what’s here is mainly what I’ve spotted online, and there’s probably a lot more out there. Also, I haven’t so much as seen most of what’s here, much less reviewed it: these are simply things that, based on what information I have available, seem fit for giving as gifts. (Anyone who tries to parlay this into “recommended by The Map Room” is going to get a very sad look from me.)

This post contains affiliate links; I receive a cut of the purchase price if you make a purchase via these links.


The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the publishing industry, and the effects of paper shortages are clear to see on both the publishing schedule and the availability of already published books. The fall publishing season is the season for general-interest map books, and in particular coffee-table map books, which tend to make rather good gifts for the map obsessed. But as far as I can see, books of that sort that have been published in 2021 are few to none—and I can’t say I’m surprised.

That said, the most interesting-looking book to come out this year that would be fit for these purposes is James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Atlas of the Invisible (Particular, £25; W. W. Norton, $40); see my earlier post about the book for more information and links.
Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

Though I haven’t seen it, or much about it, another book that looks to have some potential is Matt Brown and Rhys B. Davies’s Atlas of Imagined Places (Batsford, £25); trouble is, it appears to be out of stock in most places at the moment.
Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

For a list of map books published in 2021 that is as complete as I can make it, see the Map Books of 2021 page. Or see the page for 2020’s books, since for various reasons I wasn’t able to manage a gift guide last year.

World Atlases

World atlases make fine if large gifts, and there are atlases for every price point. The main atlas lines are the National Geographic, the Oxford, and the Times.

The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World (Collins, £150) is the more or less undisputed king of atlases, but the Times Atlas line comes in smaller and more affordable editions: from largest to smallest, they are the Comprehensive, the Concise, the Universal, the Reference, the Desktop and the (diminutive!) Mini. Each of these is updated every four years or so: in 2021 it was the turn of the Reference and the Mini; in 2020 it was the Concise; in 2019 it was the Desktop and the Universal; in 2018 it was the Comprehensive. I would have expected to see a new Comprehensive next year, but this year the publisher put out an updated reprint of the 15th edition (changes are outlined here), so who knows. I reviewed the 15th edition three years ago.

Times Atlas Edition Year List Price Buy
Comprehensive 15th 2018 £150/$200 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop
Concise 14th 2020 £80/$125 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop
Universal 4th 2019 £50/$80 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop
Reference 9th 2021 £30/$48 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop
Desktop 5th 2019 £20/$35 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop
Mini 8th 2021 £10/$17 Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

The Oxford Atlas of the World (Oxford University Press, $90) which is roughly equivalent in size and price to the Times Concise, is updated every single year—that’s its unique selling proposition. I note too that Oxford University Press also has smaller atlases in its line: the New Concise and Essential atlases were updated in 2021.

The National Geographic Atlas of the World ($215) comes in one size—large—and its maps are the in the style you expect from National Geographic: if you prefer those to the usual relief maps, this is your atlas. Its most recent edition, the 11th, came out in 2019 (see previous entry). (National Geographic does have other atlases at other price points.)
Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

Children’s Books

Two children’s atlases were published this year, both with a list price of $15:

Last year two children’s books about Marie Tharp were published: see this post from July 2020 for details and links.

The GeoHipster Calendar

The GeoHipster 2022 Calendar ($16) features 14 maps solicited through a call for contributions earlier this year. “Complete with quirky ‘holidays’ and other historical notes designed to pique your geo-curiosity, this is more than your everyday average map calendar!” Lulu

A Swiss Jigsaw Puzzle

Thanks to this tweet from Tom Patterson, I stumbled across this 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a relief map of Switzerland (40 CHF). Carta-Media

The LEGO World Map

The LEGO World Map ($250/€250/£230/C$350), in all its 11,695-piece glory, appears to be available at some retailers after being awfully hard to find on launch earlier this year.
Amazon (Canada, UK) | LEGO Store

Wall Prints

For the past year or so Anton Thomas has been working on Wild World, a pictorial map of the natural world (previously). The whole map is expected to be completed next year, but right now Anton is selling limited-edition prints of the map’s Australasian corner in A2 and A3 sizes.


If map-themed postcards, notecards and sets of paper and envelopes are your thing—and they certainly are mine—last year I posted a guide to map stationery.

The Leventhal Map Center Has an Online Store

Finally, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Information Center at the Boston Public Library finally has an online store. Selection is limited—a few catalogues, a map print, coasters and some map stationery—and shipping isn’t quite available yet: you have to pick up your purchases at the Leventhal. But it’s a start.