Maps not only show the world‚ they help it turn. On an average day‚ we will consult some form of map approximately a dozen times‚ often without even noticing: checking the A-Z‚ the road atlas or the Sat Nav‚ scanning the tube or bus map‚ a quick Google online or hours wasted flying over a virtual Earth‚ navigating a way around a shopping centre‚ watching the weather forecast‚ planning a walk or a trip‚ catching up on the news‚ booking a holiday or hotel. Maps pepper logos‚ advertisements‚ illustrations‚ books‚ web pages and newspaper and magazine articles. At a stroke‚ they convey precise information about topography‚ layout‚ history‚ politics and power. They are the unsung heroes of life: MAP ADDICT sings their song.
There are some fine‚ dry tomes out there about the history and development of cartography: this is not one of them. MAP ADDICT mixes wry observation with hard fact and considerable research‚ unearthing the offbeat‚ the unusual and the downright pedantic in a celebration of all things maps. In MAP ADDICT‚ we learn the location of what has officially been named by the OS as the most boring square kilometre in the land; we visit the town fractured into dozens of little parcels of land split between two different countries and trek around many other weird borders of Britain and Europe; we test the theory that women can't read maps. Combining history‚ travel‚ politics‚ memoir and oblique observation in a highly readable‚ and often very funny‚ style‚ Mike Parker confesses how his own impressive map collection was founded on a virulent teenage shoplifting habit‚ ponders how a good leftie can be so gung-ho about British cartographic imperialism and wages a one-man war against the moronic blandishments of the Sat Nav age.