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Atlas of Remote Islands [Hardcover]

by Judith Schalansky, Christine Lo
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 5, 2010 014311820X 978-0143118206 First Edition
A rare and beautifully illustrated journey to fifty faraway worlds.

There are still places on earth that are unknown. Visually stunning and uniquely designed, this wondrous book captures fifty islands that are far away in every sense-from the mainland, from people, from airports, and from holiday brochures. Author Judith Schalansky used historic events and scientific reports as a springboard for each island, providing information on its distance from the mainland, whether its inhabited, its features, and the stories that have shaped its lore. With stunning full-color maps and an air of mysterious adventure, Atlas of Remote Island is perfect for the traveler or romantic in all of us.


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Atlas of Remote Islands + Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine + Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For those who find it difficult to believe that there are still isolated, secluded, and uninhabited or sparsely populated pockets of land anchored firmly in the midst of the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Antarctic Oceans, this quietly beautiful and subtly evocative book is a must read. Firm in her conviction that atlases should take a much-deserved place in the literary pantheon and that there is “no more poetic book in the world,” her cartographic drawings are accompanied by compelling narratives, outlining the history, natural science, local lore, and legend of each of the 50 islands she visually and textually conjures up out of her impeccable research and vivid imaginings. An armchair traveler’s delight, this book will also beckon, challenge, and inspire intrepid explorers and exotically inclined vacationers. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

"(a) cartographical gem"
-The Wall Street Journal - Great New (Armchair) Travel Reads

"An utterly exquisite object: atlas as Wunderkammer and bestiary, bound in black cloth and sea-blue card...makes a magnificent case for the atlas to be recognised as literature, worthy of its original name - theatrum orbis terrarum, "the theatre of the world".
-Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian (UK)

"This beautifully illustrated atlas reveals that cartography and the creative imagination have always intersected, spurred on by human wanderlust."
-NPR's 2010 Favorites pick

"'Paradise is an island. So is hell.' Or so says Judith Schalansky in the introduction to her charming, spooky and splendid Atlas of Remote Islands."
-The New Yorker's Book Bench

"...absolutely magical."
-Conde Nast Traveler- CNTraveler.com

"The first five times (or so) that I paged through the Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will, I fell deeply in love with the book... Each of author and artist Judith Schalansky's maps--hand-drawn in shades of gray, black, white, and brilliant orange on cadet blue paper--transported me to a, usually, remote island..."
-NationalGeographic.com

"... A testament to the transformative power of maps. Atlas of Remote Islands is a celebration of what can still be accomplished with imagination, paper and ink. Holding it, you feel as if you've stolen the composition book that dreamy girl in the back row of our high school English class is always scribbling into. You page through it and think, Oh, my God. She's a genius."
-Anthony Doerr, TheMillions.com

"That impossible-to-please friend, that cranky relative, that coffee table begging for something more interesting that last Sunday's New York Times Magazine- worry about them no more. Here is your holiday gift, your birthday present, your living room's conversation-igniter."
-HeadButler.com

"The most beautiful and powerful book I have ever seen like this is the Pennyroyal Caxton (King James) Bible, with haunting engravings by the genius Barry Moser. The second most beautiful and amazing book like this I have ever seen arrived, slim and stunning, on my desk days ago: Atlas of Remote Islands. For a child itching to see the world, for the child inside an aged and creaky vessel, for all of us who never stopped dreaming of faraway islands draped in amazing languages and wild stories and a wholly new angle of light, this is the perfect gift."
-Brian Doyle, The Oregonian

"... hand-drawn maps of the remote islands and the fascinating stories that go alongside are utterly captivating..."
-The South Mississippi Sun Herald

"... one of those books that you can easily spend a day dreamily paging through. Beautiful stories are crafted from these remote islands histories, giving character to the pieces of land that could be easily overlooked or forgotten. You want this book."
-World's Best Ever blog www.theworldsbestever.com

"Is it possible to confuse a romance novel for an atlas?... I opened the pages to maps that looked as though they were painted in the Middle Ages. They are clear, artistic, and true to scale. I approached the text and continued my love affair."
-GoNomad.com

"Judith Schalansky's pseudo-tome- the product of a lifetime of studying maps, typography, art and design- is a charming romp through 50 of the most remote islands in the world. But this book is about so much more than maps... it's beautiful...it's charming, fanciful and is part of a near-perfect construction of a book that captures the romance of travel... This is a great coffee table book, perfect for history buffs, dreamers of anyone who sticks pins in their maps and obsessively uses "GTrot" on Facebook."
-LostGirlsWorld.com

"Gorgeously illustrated and with color maps throughout... Judith Schalansky lures us onto fifty remote islands... and proves that the most adventurous journeys still take place in the mind, with one finger pointing at a map."
-Publishing Perspectives

"When we dream of escaping from frantic modern lives into another more perfect kind of existence, the image of an island often comes to mind, a refuge where time slows down, the living is easy and we can at last find inner peace. It's a fantasy, practically a Jungian archetype now... Schalansky's book won a prize in Germany as the most beautiful book of the year. It deserves to win several more. Atlas of Remote Islands is a stunningly accomplished piece of work, as well as being a rare feat of total authorship."
-Rick Poyner at the Observer's Room blog

"The first five times (or so) that I paged through the Atlas of Remote Islands, I fell deeply in love with the book. Each of author and artist Judith Schalansky's maps transported me."
-Intelligent Travel blog

"Last night I devoured the most beautiful book... It's wonderful: it's like Borges' eccentric encyclopedias. It is, in a word, great."
-Caustic Cover Critic blog

"Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands perfectly merges the experiences of reading Calvino's Invisible Cities and pouring over an atlas as age eight. I really can't imagine recommending a book more highly."
-Harry Schwartz Eats The World blog

"...what has to be the coolest book released all year. Totally amazing."
-Survival of the Book blog

"Atlas of Remote Islands is a book that opens like a trunk of dusty letters in an attic- full of the promise of the unknown, and the discovery of small delights. There is poetry in the book's simplicity, and a reminder of the beauty of print."
-emagazine.com

"If you ever wonder what kind of place 'real' books will have in an increasingly electronic world, the Atlas of Remote Islands is the perfect example of the power wielded by a physical artifact. This book is a rare gem. It's like your favourite children's fantasy book come to life... it's a little like Lost, and it is like traveling to the moon."
-Writer's Pet blog

"It's a delight... a weird and wonderful assortment."
-Lonely Planet blog

"With hand drawn detailed topographic maps and intricate local histories, each of the islands comes alive through stories about marooned slaves, lonely scientists, lost explorers, mutinous sailors, confused lighthouse keepers, and forgotten castaways."
-Perceptive Travel blog

"An armchair traveler's delight."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014311820X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118206
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
That impossible-to-please friend, that cranky relative, that coffee table begging for something more interesting than last Sunday's New York Times Magazine --- worry about them no more.

Here is your holiday gift, your birthday present, your living room's conversation-igniter.

And no worries that "Atlas of Remote Islands (Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will)" will be showing up on legions of gift lists. [To buy "Atlas of Remote Islands" from Amazon, click here.] Though published by Penguin, the biggest recognition the book has received to date is the German Book Office's October Book of the Month. The author, Judith Schalansky, is a German designer and novelist whose last book was "Fraktur Mon Amour, a study of the Nazis' favorite typeface.

Schalansky got interested in maps and atlases for the most personal of reasons. She was born in East Berlin; when she was 10, East and West Germany merged, "and the country I was born in disappeared from the map." With that, she lost interest in political maps and became fascinated with the basic building blocks of Earth's land masses : physical topography.

Fascinating stuff.

You doubt me?

Consider: Schalansky sees a finger traveling across a map as "an erotic gesture."

Consider: Schalansky disdains any island you can easily get to. The more remote the destination, the more enthusiastic she is for it. Like Peter I Island in the Antarctic --- until the late 1990s, fewer people had visited it than had set foot on the moon.

Consider: Schalansky believes "the most terrible events have the greatest potential to tell a story" --- and "islands make the perfect setting for them." Thus, the line at the start of the book: "Paradise is an island. So is hell.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a physical book that takes you away October 26, 2010
Format:Hardcover
As a book lover you can become forlorn with the constant barrage of why physical books and the brick-and-mortar bookstore are obsolete in these days of digital book hype and the pursuit of immediate gratification in quick, small portions.

"Atlas of Remote Islands" is the refutation of those perceived realities.

I serendipitously came across this book as I was meandering through a bookstore...was arrested by the book displayed (tall, thin) and the sub title ("Fifty Island I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will"). Okay, okay, I'm posting this review on Amazon... but the book is so good that if your local bookstore doesn't have it, then buy it wherever you can!

Not only is the concept for the book just so cool.... it is also beautifully presented, each entry wonderfully laid out and completely engrossing. This is a book you curl up with in your favorite chair on a dark winter night with a hot cup of something in arms reach.

This book is exactly why the book - the physically opening the cover and turning the pages book - will never become obsolete.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Kindles can't do everything. December 27, 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is a book you have to hold in your hand, page through, and imagine about. Then you put it on the shelf. Then you take it down and look at it again. Repeat.

Really, it's very beautiful, very inspiring, very mysterious.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Ms. Schalansky's book on remote islands is pleasing work on lands that are located in remote places of the earth and some that, while located close to more populated islands, have some interesting stories behind them. The book consists of a short essay summarizing the book and descriptions of the islands broken down by location (Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, etc.), a glossary of terms and a short index.

The stories that interested me the most were the histories of Diego Garcia (the natives being removed for the purpose of constructing a military base), Pingelap (where inbreeding of the natives led to a high incidence of color blindness), Tikopia (where infanticide was (is?) condoned to control population growth and preserve scarce resources and Takuu (missionaries and researchers are not allowed on the island). Atlasova Island's story interested me as well for its description of a perfectly symmetrical volcano rising up out the sea just off Russia's Kamchatka peninsula.

Some of the stories however were just descriptions of barren rocks such as those in the Arctic Ocean and the islands close to Antarctica which left me to want to learn more history about these places. I think the book could have included a bibliography which could have directed the reader to more in depth coverage that would given some flavor to some of the interesting stories found in this book. A nice work that should find itself in a cartographer's book collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I read it before I bought it July 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I read this slim volume while browsing in the bookstore, then decided it was only fair to buy it. The cartography is a little disappointing - very little here but the shape of the islands - and I found myself going to other maps and Google Earth for a better look. The brief blurbs about the islands follow no set pattern: some cover geography, others are based on history, pop culture, philosophy... Many were fascinating. The short biographical piece was interesting as well, like a greatly expanded "About the Author." In the end, I was wishing it had been 100 remote islands, not 50, so I'd have to say I really enjoyed the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
the purchase of the book was based on online opinion - but unfortunately it was overestimated. It is not day's must buy.
Published 10 days ago by Sylwia Koc
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-have for artists
If you are an artist, designer, explorer, traveler, are interested in history, drama, story-telling, cartography or are a DREAMER, this book will benefit you. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alexander Cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars What a unique book!
this is probably the most unique book I have on the shelf. It is just plain fun to actually read about and view the drawings and notes on small remote islands that exist on this... Read more
Published 1 month ago by charles hood
2.0 out of 5 stars Great fun book, terrible printing
This book is clever and fun and would make a great coffee table book or conversation starter, BUT for the horrible printing! Read more
Published 4 months ago by kat
5.0 out of 5 stars Her country is not exist yet - only her memories
When a graphic designer (from DDR, the former Iron Curtain neighborhood) becomes an "Auter" (creator not creative). Read more
Published 5 months ago by j karlopoulos
5.0 out of 5 stars Big adventures in small doses
Brilliant, beautiful little book. The kind of coffee table book you actually want to read. The kind of book you can leave around the house and everybody will stop to check it out. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Matthew S. Earle
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Really neat book! Lots of info, history, stories, and pictures packed into this short book. Well made, looks nice on the coffee table.
Published 5 months ago by C. Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected GEM!
Came across this volume quite by accident in a little local indie bookstore. SO glad I bought it! It was featured on a bookstand by the register otherwise I'm sure I would never... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Annie Fields
4.0 out of 5 stars Taste of uniqueness
There isn't much on each island and it could be better diagrammed... But It's enough to make your mind travel to these distant and remote places, where anything could happen. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ian L. A. Gomes
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a reference atlas but a beautiful work of art
Judith Schalansky's "Atlas of Remote Islands" is not a cartographic work of reference as much as a beautiful objet d'art. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christopher Culver
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