One of my favorite but most neglected hobbies is reading. Throughout the year I add books to my personal library. However, during the fall and spring semesters I teach part-time in addition with my full-time job which leaves very little time for reading. When summer arrives my personal library is flush with unread books (for an interesting read on the topic of personal libraries check out The New Yorker article titled “The Paradise of the Library“) and there are almost too many to choose from for my summer reading list. This summer I read a few mapping-related books and articles that readers of this blog may find interesting.
You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard is a book I bought last year (at a very cool bookstore in Corolla, NC) and finally got around to reading this summer. Ellard focuses on how various organisms employ mental maps for navigation purposes. He introduces the reader to various experiments involving single-celled organisms, ants, and humans to illustrate how different organisms form and use mental maps in different ways. He also puts forth connections between a human’s mental map and their views on their environment and their role in it. I enjoyed the book and felt it was an easy read.
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel is a book I came across while purusing Canaday’s Book Barn, a 200-year-old barn just outside my hometown that is now a bookstore. Sobel concisely describes John Harrison’s pursuit of engineering a sea-worthy chronometer that would solve the “longitude problem” that vexed sea navigators. Not only does Sobel highlight the political and economic impetus behind finding a solution to the “longitude problem” but she also highlights the contentious debate between those favoring a mechanical or astronomical based solution. If that is not enough to make you want to read the book then maybe the chapter on some of the more off-the-wall solutions would interest you, like the solution that involves a wounded dog and a magical healing powder.
Finally, while I favor reading a book that I hold in my hands I am not above reading digital books or articles. Hence, this summer I have been glued to my laptop in the evenings reading Frank Jacobs’ articles in the New York Time’s Borderlines series. Any map lover will thoroughly enjoy Jacobs’ thorough analysis of the world’s political boundaries. Do you know where Transnistria is? Have you ever heard of the Google Maps war? Do you know what a condominium boundary is? There is plenty to learn by reading the Borderline series. However, I will warn you that you may be compelled to purchase books Jacobs references which happened to me when he referenced Arc of the Medicine Line: Mapping the World’s Longest Undefended Border Across the Western Plains by Tony Rees.