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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

by Ken Jennings

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1,0124915,639 (3.9)55
It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks, from the London Map Fair to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the "unreal estate" charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been.--From publisher description.… (more)
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» See also 55 mentions

English (47)  Estonian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Very educational in a fun and witty way. Highly recommend the little quiz at the end of the book. ( )
  geoff79 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Ken Jennings is hilarious. Back when he was on Jeopardy I would watch everyday (and still do occasionally). If you want to get a dose is his humor, check out his Reddit Ask Me Anything. I’ve always loved maps, so this book hit a sweet spot for me. I remember being the navigator on road trips as a kid, winning the “Pride” award for geography in elementary school (whatever that is) and hacking on Google Maps before they put out an official API. Somehow this book tied into everything I love about maps and exploration. Highly recommend it. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
The first half of this book was fascinating - interesting history of geography. The latter half, after the chapter about the geography bee kids, focused on weird geographically-related habits/hobbies and was far less interesting. (The "habits" or "hobbies" included hyper-travelers, guys obsessed with highway signs, etc.) ( )
  szbuhayar | May 24, 2020 |
Part autobiography, part celebration of all things geographical, this is a pretty much constantly enjoyable read. You'll learn stuff you never knew you didn't know including that even Ken Jennings doesn't know everything. Well worth the read. ( )
  Skybalon | Mar 19, 2020 |
I enjoyed the information on maps/geography/etc., but somewhere past the halfway point I began to wish that Jennings' would give the snarkiness a rest. It began to sound forced, which was a shame, as he used humor wonderfully. ( )
  treehorse | Nov 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Eighteenth century English essayist Charles Lamb insightfully proclaimed, “Nothing is more important than space and time—yet nothing is less important, because I never think of them.” While geography, the social science discipline most aligned with considerations of spatial relationships over time, was of supreme importance to society in earlier centuries, in recent decades its stature has declined markedly.

Though individuals today enjoy unprecedented choices about their place choices—in which they might live and work, eat and meet and connect, learn and play, shop and travel, exercise, heal and rest, worship and prosper—and contemporary culture, society, and commerce are ever more influenced by what happens in other places, yet people’s knowledge about places is less rather than more.
 

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Epigraph
My wound is geography. - Pat Conroy
Dedication
For my parents. And for the kid with the map.
First words
They say you're not really grown up until you've moved the last box of your stuff out of storage at your parents'. If that's true, I believe I will stay young forever, ageless and carefree as Dorian Gray, while the cardboard at my parents' house molders and fades.
Quotations
Why did maps mean - why do they still mean, I guess - so much to me? Maps are just a way of organizing information, after all - not normally the kind of thing that spawns obsessive fandom. I've never heard anyone profess any particular love for the Dewey Decimal System. p.11
Falling in love with places is just like falling in love with people: it can happen more than once, but never quite like your first time. p. 15
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks, from the London Map Fair to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the "unreal estate" charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been.--From publisher description.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Geography geeks,
Map nerds and the maps they love
Wittily profiled
(jbd1)
True map geeks unite!

Secret meeting spot hidden

in endnotes. (Joking.)

(legallypuzzled)

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