Best Map and Cartography Books
Best Books, Education, History, Nonfiction, Science & Nature

The Best Cartography and Map Books

“What are the best map and cartography books?” We looked at 11 lists and came away with 141 different books perfect for any lover of the craft.

Maps, like the human beings who create them, have evolved and grown more complicated as time goes on. Maps have progressed from their early days of charting and making sense of land and the sky. Now maps can be used for almost anything, you can make a map of the human mind, the interconnectedness of communities, the internet, and even galaxies. As a cheesy or over-earnest teacher might say “The only limit to creating new and exciting maps is your imagination”.

Below you will find 141 of the best books about maps, cartography, map makers, map design and every creative map you can think of. The top 13 books appearing on multiple lists can be found with images and link below and the remaining 128 (as well as the sources we consulted) can be found at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

The Best Map and Cartography Books

13.) An Atlas of Radical Cartography by Lize Mogel

Lists It Appears On:

    • Bellerby And Co
    • Brain Pickings

An Atlas of Radical Cartography makes an important contribution to a growing cultural movement that traverses the boundaries between art, cartography, geography and activism. It pairs writers with artists, architects, designers and collectives to address the role of the map as political agent (rather than neutral document). Ten mapping projects dealing with social and political issues such as migration, incarceration, globalization, housing rights, garbage and energy issues are complemented by 10 critical essays and dialogues responding to each map.

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12.) Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline by Daniel Rosenberg

Lists It Appears On:

    • Brain Pickings
    • Wired

Now in Paperback! What does history look like? How do you draw time? Cartographies of Time is the first history of the timeline, written engagingly and with incredible visuals. The authors, both accomplished writers and historians, sketch the shifting field of graphic representations of history from the beginning of the print age through the present. They shed light on western views of history and on the complex relationship between general ideas about the course of events and the technical efforts to record and connect dates and names in the past. In addition to telling a rich, forgotten story, this book serves as a kind of grammar of historical representation, uncovering the ways in which time has been structured in thought and in images, in the Western tradition. Written for both the academically curious and the general reader, Cartographies of Time provides a set of tools for understanding the evolution and the significance of graphic representations of time both in history and in contemporary culture.

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11.) How To Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier

Lists It Appears On:

    • Gretchen Peterson
    • Wired

Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must.

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10.) Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS by John Krygier and Denis Wood

Lists It Appears On:

    • Fantom Planet
    • Wired

Acclaimed for its innovative use of visual material, this book is engaging, clear, and compelling—exactly how an effective map should be. Nearly every page is organized around maps and other figures (many in full color) that illustrate all aspects of map making, including instructive examples of both good and poor design choices. The book covers everything from locating and processing data to making decisions about layout, symbols, color, and type. Readers are invited to think critically about both the technical features and social significance of maps as they learn to create better maps of their own.

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9.) Map As Art, The: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katharine Harmon

Lists It Appears On:

    • Brain Pickings
    • The New York Times

It is little surprise that in an era of globalized politics, culture, and ecology contemporary artists are drawn to mapsto express their visions. Using paint, salt, souvenir tea towels, or their own bodies, map artists explore a world free ofgeographical constraints. In The Map as Art, Harmon collects 360 colorful, map-related artistic visions by well-known artists—such as Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson, William Kentridge, and Vik Muniz—and many more less-familiar artists for whom maps are the inspiration for creating art. Essays by Gayle Clemans bring an in-depth look into the artists’ maps of Joyce Kozloff, Landon Mackenzie, Ingrid Calame, Guillermo Kuitca, and Maya Lin. Together, the beautiful reproductions and telling commentary make this an essential volume for anyone open to exploring new paths.

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8.) The Map Book by Peter Barber

Lists It Appears On:

    • Gretchen Peterson
    • Map History

From the earliest of times, maps have fired our imaginations and helped us make sense of our world, from the global to the very local. Head of Map Collections at the British Library, Peter Barber has here compiled an historic and lavish atlas, charting the progress of civilization as our knowledge of the world expanded. Simply organized as a progression through time, The Map Book collects some 175 maps that span four millennia – from the famed prehistoric Bedolina (Italy) incision in rock from around 1500 B.C. to the most modern, digitally enhanced rendering. Many of the maos are beautiful works of art in their own right. From Europe to the Americas, Africa to Asia, north to south, there are maps of oceans and continents charted by heroic adventurers sailing into the unknown, as accounts spread of new discoveries, shadowy continents begin to appear n the margins of the world, often labeled ‘unknown lands.’ Other maps had a more practical use: some demarcated national boundaries or individual plots of land; military plans depicted enemy positions; propaganda treatises showed one country or faction at an advantage over others.

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7.) The Mapmakers: The Story of the Great Pioneers in Cartography – from Antiquity to the Space Age by John Noble Wilford

Lists It Appears On:

    • Wired
    • Map History

In his classic text, two-time Pulitzer Prize—winner John Noble Wilford recounts the history of cartography from antiquity to the space age. With this revised edition, Wilford brings the story up to the present day, as he shows the impact of new technologies that make it possible for cartographers to go where no one has been before, from the deepest reaches of the universe (where astronomers are mapping time as well as space) to the inside of the human brain. These modern-day mapmakers join the many earlier adventurers–including ancient Greek stargazers, Renaissance seafarers, and the explorers who mapped the American West–whose exploits shape this dramatic story of human inventiveness and limitless curiosity.

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6.) Times Atlas of the World by Times Books

Lists It Appears On:

    • Independent
    • About

The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World continues to be the benchmark of cartographic excellence, relied on and trusted by governments, media companies, and international organizations around the world including the UN and the European Commission. New features include a double page map of the Arctic Ocean, new maps of sub-ice features in the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic, and physical maps of all the continents. Major updates include 5,000 place name changes, most notably in Iran, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, and Spain; a beautifully illustrated section on current issues from climate to economy; updated national parks and conserved areas including the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), the largest conservation zone in the world; and towns and populations in Brazil and Japan.

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5.) You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katherine Harmon

Lists It Appears On:

    • Brain Pickings
    • Wired

Mapmaking fulfills one of our most ancient and deepseated desires: understanding the world around us and our place in it. But maps need not just show continents and oceans: there are maps to heaven and hell; to happiness and despair; maps of moods, matrimony, and mythological places. There are maps to popular culture, from Gulliver’s Island to Gilligan’s Island. There are speculative maps of the world before it was known, and maps to secret places known only to the mapmaker. Artists’ maps show another kind of uncharted realm: the imagination. What all these maps have in common is their creators’ willingness to venture beyond the boundaries of geography or convention.

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4.) From Here To There by Hand Drawn Map Association

Lists It Appears On:

    • Bellerby And Co
    • Brain Pickings
    • Wired

From Here to There celebrates these ephemeral documentsusually forgotten or tossed aside after having served their purposegiving them their due as artifacts representing stories from people’s lives around the world. There is the young woman suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who created maps of the Humira injections on her stomach and thighs to help her remember the sites, and give them time to heal. Or the young boy who imagined a whole country for ants and put it to paper. Lucas from Australia drew an obsessively detailed map of his local traffic island, and a teenage girl contributed a map of her high school locker. Two American tourists got lost in the Bulgarian mountains following the hand drawn map of a local, and Britanny from Denmark drew directions to an animal rights protest in Copenhagen. The maps featured in From Here to There are as varied and touching as the stories they tell.

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3.) On The Map : Why The World Looks The Way It Does by Simon Garfield

Lists It Appears On:

    • Bellerby And Co
    • Here 360
    • Map History

Imagine a world without maps. How would we travel? Could we own land? What would men and women argue about in cars? Scientists have even suggested that mapping—not language—is what elevated our prehistoric ancestors from ape-dom. Follow the history of maps from the early explorers’ maps and the awe-inspiring medieval Mappa Mundi to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones, Garfield explores the unique way that maps relate and realign our history—and reflect the best and worst of what makes us human.

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1. (Tie)  A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton

Lists It Appears On:

    • Bellerby And Co
    • Here 360
    • Map History
    • Wired

Maps are objects of endless fascination, and the urge to map is a basic human instinct. In this masterful study, historian and cartography expert Jerry Brotton reveals how maps—far from being objective documents—are intimately tied to the views and agendas of particular times and places. Beginning with Ptolemy’s Geography and ending with the satellite-powered behemoth of Google Earth, Brotton examines a dozen world maps from around the globe and through the centuries to trace the long road to our present geographical reality.

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1. (Tie) Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs

Lists It Appears On:

    • Bellerby And Co
    • Brain Pickings
    • Gretchen Peterson
    • The New York Times

Spanning many centuries, all continents, and the realms of outer space and the imagination, this collection of 138 unique graphics combines beautiful full-color illustrations with quirky statistics and smart social commentary. The result is a distinctive illustrated guide to the world.

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The Best Map and Cartography Books

Books 14-141 (Appear on 1 list each)


1000 FontsMartinGretchen Peterson
A Guide to Collecting Antique MapsChristopher W. LaneMap History
A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 MapsTim Bryars & Tom HarperMap History
A World Map app Jaja & CoIndependent
Advanced Spatial Analysis: The CASA Book of GISPaul A. Longley, Michael BattyFantom Planet
Adventures of Paul TherouxPaul TherouxBellerby And Co
Alte Landkarten: von der Antike bis zum Ende des 19. JahrhundertsIvan KupcikMap History
Animals and MapsWilma GeorgeMap History
Antique MapsCarl Moreland and David BannisterMap History
Art and Cartography. Six Historical EssaysDavid WoodwardMap History
Atlas of DesignWired
Atlas of PrejudiceYanko TsvetkovHere 360
Atlas, SchmatlasIndependent
Britannia DepictaHere 360
British Map Engravers: A Dictionary of Engravers, Lithographers and their Principal Employers to 1850Laurence Worms & Ashley Baynton-WilliamsMap History
Cartographia: Mapping CivilizationsVincent VirgaMap History
Cartographical Innovations: An International Handbook of Mapping Terms to 1900Helen M. Wallis and Arthur H. RobinsonMap History
Collecting Antique Maps: An Introduction to the History of CartographyJonathan PotterMap History
Collecting Old MapsFrancis J. ManasekMap History
Creativity TodayByttebierGretchen Peterson
Cultural Geography in Practice (Arnold Publication)Alison BluntFantom Planet
Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th to 18th CenturiesRaleigh A. SkeltonMap History
Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS UsersCynthia A. BrewerFantom Planet
Discovering Antique MapsAlan G. HodgkissMap History
DK Atlas of World HistoryAbout
DK World AtlasAbout
DK World Reference AtlasAbout
Dorling Kindersley Traveller’s AtlasIndependent
Early Thematic Mapping in the History of CartographyArthur H. RobinsonMap History
Elements of CartographyArthur H. Robinson, Joel L. Morrison, Phillip C. Muehrcke, A. Jon Kimerling, Stephen C.Fantom Planet
English Maps: a HistoryCatherine Delano Smith & Roger J.P. KainMap History
Envisioning InformationEdward TufteGretchen Peterson
Explorers’ MapsRaleigh A. SkeltonMap History
Facsimile-Atlas to the Early History of CartographyAdolf Erik NordenskiöldMap History
Five Centuries of Map-PrintingDavid WoodwardMap History
Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map ProjectionsJohn P. SnyderMap History
Geodemographics, GIS and Neighbourhood Targeting (Mastering GIS: Technol, Applications & Mgmnt)Richard Harris, Peter Sleight, Richard WebberFantom Planet
Geographic Information AnalysisDavid O’Sullivan, David J. UnwinFantom Planet
Geographic Information ScienceMax J. Egenhofer and David M. MarkFantom Planet
Geographic Information Systems and SciencePaul Longley, Michael F. Goodchild, David Maguire, David RhindFantom Planet
Geographically Weighted Regression: The Analysis of Spatially Varying RelationshipsA. Stewart Fotheringham, Chris Brunsdon, and Martin CharltonFantom Planet
Globes: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation and PowerBellerby And Co
Goode’s World AtlasEdward B. EspenshadeAbout
Great Maps: the world’s masterpieces explored and explainedJerry BrottonMap History
History of CartographyLeo BagrowMap History
How Maps WorkAlan MacEachrenWired
Images of the World: the Atlas through HistoryJohn A. Wolter and Ronald E. GrimMap History
L’Europa nell’antica cartografiaRoberto BorriMap History
La Carte: Images des CivilisationsGeorge KishMap History
Landmarks of Mapmaking: An Illustrated Survey of Maps and MapmakersRonald V. Tooley, Charles Bricker, and Gerald R. CroneMap History
Le language des géographes: termes, signes, couleurs des cartes anciennes 1500-1800François de DainvilleMap History
Lexikon zur Geschichte der KartographieIngrid Kretschmer, Johannes Dörflinger, and Franz WawrikMap History
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Soved the greatest Scientific Problem of His TimeDava SobelWired
Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and ArtPeter Barber & Tom Harper,Map History
Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance SurveyMike ParkerMap History
Map: Exploring the World,Victoria ClarkeMap History
MapheadKen JenningsWired
Mapping the WorldC J SchulerHere 360
Mapping the World: an Illustrated HistoryRalph EhrenbergMap History
Mapping the World: Maps and their HistoryNathaniel HarrisMap History
MAPPING THE WORLD: Stories of GeographyCaroline and Martine LaffonThe New York Times
Mapping Time and SpaceEvelyn EdsonMap History
Mapping: Ways of Representing the WorldDaniel Dorling and David FairbairnMap History
MapsLena CorwinGretchen Peterson
Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and SocietyNorman J. W. ThrowerMap History
Maps and Their MakersGerald Roe CroneMap History
Maps in Those Days: Cartographic Methods Before 1850J.H. AndrewsMap History
Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as CartographerPeter TurchiBrain Pickings
Maps: a Historical Survey of their Study and CollectingRaleigh A. SkeltonMap History
Maps: Finding Our Place in the WorldJames R. Akerman & Robert W. Karrow Jr.Map History
Maps: Their Untold StoriesRose Mitchell and Andrew JanesMap History
Medieval MapsPaul D. A. HarveyMap History
Methods and Techniques in Human GeographyGuy M. RobinsonFantom Planet
Metropolis: Mapping the CityJeremy BlackMap History
National Geographic Ipad AppIndependent
National Geographic Road Atlas : United States, Canada, MexicoAbout
PARIS UNDERGROUND: The Maps, Stations, and Design of the MétroMark OvendenThe New York Times
Periplus: an Essay on the Early History of Charts and Sailing-DirectionsAdolf Erik NordenskiöldMap History
Pictorial MapsNigel HolmesMap History
Plotted: A Literary AtlasAndrew DeGraffHere 360
Political Atlas of the Modern WorldWileyIndependent
Rand McNally 2002 Road AtlasAbout
Rethinking Maps: New Frontiers in CartogrophyMartin DodgeWired
Sea Charts of the Early Explorers: 13th to 17th CenturyMichel Mollat du Jourdin and Monique de la RoncièreMap History
Self-Organising Maps: Applications in Geographic Information SciencePragya Agarwal and Andre SkupinFantom Planet
Seminology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, MapsJacques BertinWired
State of the World AtlasAbout
Statistical Methods for Geography: A Student’s GuidePeter A. RogersonFantom Planet
Tales from the Map Room: Fact and Fiction about Maps and their MakersPeter Barber & Christopher BoardMap History
The Art and History of GlobesSylvia SumiraMap History
The Charting of the Oceans: Ten Centuries of Maritime MapsPeter WhitfieldMap History
The Commerce of Cartography: Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and EnglandMary PedleyMap History
The Curious Map BookAshley Baynton-WilliamsMap History
The Earliest Printed Maps, 1472-1500Tony Campbell,Map History
The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis Volume 1: Geographic Patterns & RelationshipsAndy MitchellFantom Planet
The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis: Volume 2: Spatial Measurements and StatisticsAndy MitchellFantom Planet
The Ghost MapWired
The Great Atlas of the SkyIndependent
The History of Topographical Maps: Symbols, Pictures and SurveysPaul D. A. HarveyMap History
The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World MapsPeter WhitfieldMap History
The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945Laurence WardHere 360
The Map That Changed The WorldSimon WinchesterWired
The Mapmaker’s ArtEdward LynamMap History
The Mapmakers Art: A History of CartographyJohn GossMap History
The Mapmakers’ World: a cultural history of the European world mapMarjo T. NurminenMap History
The Mapping of Paradise: a History of Heaven on EarthAlessandro ScafiMap History
The Mapping of the HeavensPeter WhitfieldMap History
The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700Rodney W. ShirleyMap History
The Maps Of The ImaginationBellerby And Co
The Modern Japanese GardenMichiko Rico NoseGretchen Peterson
The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of CartographyJ.B. HarleyMap History
The Oxford Map Companion: One Hundred Sources in World HistoryPatricia SeedMap History
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient EgyptIndependent
The Penguin State of the World AtlasIndependent
The Power Of MapsDenis WoodWired
The Sovereign Map: Theoretical Approaches in Cartography throughout HistoryChristian JacobMap History
The Story of MapsLloyd A. BrownMap History
The world in a mirror: world maps from the Middle Ages to the present dayJan ParmentierMap History
The World Map, 1300-1492: The Persistence of Tradition and TransformationEvelyn EdsonMap History
Thematic Cartography and GeovisualizationSlocum et alGretchen Peterson
Thinking With TypeEllen LuptonGretchen Peterson
Time-integrative Geographic Information Systems – Management and Analysis of Spatio-Temporal DataThomas OttFantom Planet
Transit Maps of the WorldMark OvendenWired
Understanding Maps: A Systematic History of Their Use and DevelopmentAlan G. HodgkissMap History
UNIMARK INTERNATIONAL: The Design of Business and the Business of DesignJan ConradiThe New York Times
Usborne Picture AtlasIndependent
Visions of the World: A History of MapsJeremy BlackMap History
WAR RUGS: The Nightmare of ModernismEnrico MascelloniThe New York Times
Why Geography MattersHarm de BlijFantom Planet

The Best Cartography Book Sources

About Guide Picks – Top 8 Atlases
Brain Pickings Creative Cartography: 7 Must-Read Books on Maps
Fantom Planet Recommended Books: GIS, Cartography, and Geography
Here 360 Seven great books for map geeks
Independent The 10 Best atlases
Map History Books to get you into the subject
The Guardian Simon Garfield’s top 10 books with maps
The New York Times The World as Their Canvas
Wired These Are The Best Books You Must Read About Maps