One of the most beautiful books I own but then all of Judith Schalanky’s books are incredibly well made and astoningishly beautiful.
Like the author I loved world atlases and globes as a kid (and still do) and constantly travelled the world flicking through or spinning them whilst lying on the living room floor.
Schalansky grew up in East Germany during the late 80’s and early 90’s, so her atlases were filled with a world that was unavailable to most East German citizens. She went on imaginary trips like probably many of us. When the wall fell, she was faced with infinite possibilities to travel to these strange lands that had filled her imagination.
Judith Schalansky has produced a wonderful atlas that combines everything that us atlas-nerds love in maps combined with history and interesting stories. I’m also a sucker for good introductions, something I miss too often in German books. Her introduction really gets you into the mood and then we are treated to a multitude of islands arranged by ocean.
Each island has two pages dedicated to it, the right hand page a map at the 1:125000 scale and the left hand page shows the nearest other land and a timeline of discovery and significant events that happened on or around the island.
The stories are really interesting and range from whale hunting, Robinson Crusoes, idyllic atolls, atomic bombs, murder and Penguins to cannibalism.
It is amazing to know that there are still places on earth that are unknown. Visually stunning and perfectly designed, this wondrous book is the perfect gift for yourself or any fellow armchair-traveller that whizzes you off to the far ends of the world in no time.
And I nearly forgot to mention – I have been to one of the Islands in real life *looking very proud“ I visited St. Kilda’s some years ago a tiny island off the Outer Hebrides that had a tiny post office because they have their own stamps. I’m still looking everywhere for them now, I hope I still have my St. Kilda stamps somewhere. You could walk around this little place in no time, it’s always windy and the air tastes of salt. Would love to go back and maybe stay a night or two…
Check out Judith Schalansky’s other books „Der Hals der Giraffe“ and „Verzeichnis einiger Verluste“ and make sure you come by here again when I introduce another beautiful book of maps to you: The atlas of literature – coming soon 🙂