Books, be they fiction or non-fiction, are maps of our minds. Those line drawings, cartographically-accurate or not, that we make of the places we’ve seen or imagined, are also maps. The two crafts belong together in ways that readers don’t always appreciate, but the digital age is busily trying to change that condition. Stanford is about to open the David Rumsey Map Center, and thereby make available more than 150,000 maps, globes, charts, and other cartographic objects.
Of course, if you can’t make it out to Stanford, Stanford can come to you. The whole project sounds endlessly fascinating, and Rumsey’s collection belongs on the same shelf in your head right next to A History of the World in 12 Maps, and Christine Garwood’s study of longstanding human ignorance, Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea.