On the bookshelf: Five of the best new map books

This season's collection of cartographical curiosities make great stocking-fillers for the itchy-footed or armchair traveller

By Sarah Barrell
Published 14 Nov 2018, 08:00 GMT

They may be of little practical use, but old maps have long held a place in travellers' hearts. Far from being sepia-tinted curiosities, maps are an ever-flourishing genre of travel publishing, the fashion for cleverly curated cartographical collections seemingly knows no frontiers — from literary to conceptual, historical to philosophical, these days there's an atlas to suit every niche interest and inspire epic journeys of the mind if not something more intrepid.

It's designed with children in mind, but when Illuminatlas landed on the National Geographic Traveller books desk recently, it made almost every member of team stop to take its psychedelic 3D tour, while Atlas: A World of Maps from The British Library is a near-perfect example of how the best of these books chart not just human movement but our dreams and desires, too.

Beyond the Map
Newcastle University's Professor of Social Geography, Alastair Bonnett, uncovers 'unruly enclaves, ghostly places, emerging lands and our search for new utopias'. RRP: £9.99 (Aurum Press)

Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library
A printed showcase of the British national map collection. While many are no longer accurate, studying them tells a fascinating tale of when they were made. They're accompanied by insightful writing that helps this feel almost like a map of time travel. RRP: £30 (British Library)

The Golden Atlas
Perfect for the armchair adventurer-historian: this is a rich visual exploration of some of the most beautiful charts ever created, by such pioneers as Ancient Egyptian explorers and medieval Chinese traders. By Edward Brooke-Hitching. RRP: £25 (Simon & Schuster)

The psychedelic double page spreads within this book spring to life — in three different ways — once viewed through the three-colour lens. An attention-grabbing atlas created by Milan design studio, Camovksy, with words by children's writer, Kate Davis. RRP: £20 (Wide Eyed)

Theatre of the World
Time travel from the mysterious symbols of the Stone Age to the era of Google Earth by cartophile Thomas Reinertsen Berg. These maps and essays look at the motivations of those who carved out cartographical history. RRP: £30 (Hodder & Stoughton)

Wise words

More Dashing
After the success of Dashing for the Post, we're treated to More Dashing: Further Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor, travel missives that once again shine with the author's exuberant style. Selected and edited by Adam Sisman. RRP: £30 (Bloomsbury)

Around the World in 80 Words
This itinerant etymology is a travelogue-cum-dictionary with 80 chapters, each covering a country and a related word. By Paul Anthony Jones, aka Twitter's @HaggardHawks. RRP: £12.99 (Elliott & Thompson)

The Grand Hostels
BudgetTraveller (aka travel blogger Kash Bhattacharya) turns his skilled skinflintery to sourcing the world's snazziest hostels in this hand-picked selection of the world's most luxurious places to bed down on a budget. RRP: €29.90 (£26.60) (Gestalten)

Published in the December 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Read More

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved