I've been itching to read Simon Garfield's recent book On The Map: A Mind Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Works. The book explores maps past to present and their varying roles:
It is by necessity an imaginary show, for it contains things that would be impossible to gather in one place: long-destroyed impressions of the world from Ancient Greece, famous treasures from the world’s universities, some jaw-dropping pieces from the British Library and the Library of Congress, rare items from Germany, Venice and California. There will be manuscripts, sea charts, atlases, screen grabs and phone apps. Some exhibits are more important than others, and some are just displayed for amusement. The range will be extensive: poverty and wealth maps, film maps and treasure maps, maps with a penchant for octopuses, maps of Africa, Antarctica and places that never were. Some of the maps will explain the shape of the world, while others will focus on a street or on the path of a plane as it flies to Casablanca.
I'm not sure there is a more inclusive exploration of maps in print. There's a waiting list for this book at my local library, which I think is awesome. Maps for the win!

Today begins the online class the travel and design blogging community has been collectively geeked about, Map Design: Learn to Communicate Places Beautifully. The class is taught by Anne Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager. I'm super excited to expand my love of maps and study with 400+ other students from 21 countries and 5 continents. I can't help but think what a perfect companion this book would be to my next three weeks of study. Has anyone read it? Anyone else taking Anne's class?

For more books inspired by place, visit the Armchair Travel archives.
(images via Simon Garflied)