Announcements: Check out my post on 5 Things to Do in Tucson at Got Saga.com
AND, note to winners of our January contest–the books are in the mail.
Destination: The Oceans
Book: The Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will (NEW in English, 2010) by Judith Schalansky
As a writer, artist, and typographer, the perfect job for Judith Schalansky, surely would be to create an Atlas. And she did just that. An Atlas of Remote Islands wins a place in the traveler’s library as a book of beauty, ingenuity, poetry and even contains some of the statistical facts you expect from a reference book. I will treasure this book, dipping into it whenever I feel the need to flee ordinary places and ordinary books.
Her book won awards in Germany, where people sailed into book stores to buy this instructive yet fanciful look at 50 islands. She explains in her foreword that one book in just about every German household is an Atlas. And to add to the love affair with maps, consider that she grew up in East Germany under communism, when the government banned travel, but could not stop travel of the imagination–armchair travel.
Shalansky serves up one page of text and a handsome map of each of the 50 islands. Other than a few facts–location, size, governing country–she doesn’t try to tell us everything about each island, but introduces each with a story of a person who once lived, or tried to live on that island. While based on fact, these stories reside more in fantasy than reality. As Utopias, most of these islands proved to be let downs. If they were uninhabited, there was good reason–too remote, too bereft of flora and fauna, not conducive to farming, no fresh water sources. And yet, humankind must seek out islands just as they must climb mountains–because they are there.
While you may have heard of a few of them, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) for one, most will trip you up on a geography quiz.
Go Nomad published this article which compares the book’s story to the experience of “The World’s Most Traveled Man.”
Britain’s Guardian on line, whose reviews I always love to read, says:
In her foreword, Schalansky describes the act of finger-walking a map as an “erotic gesture”. Cartophiles will know instantly what she means: not that there is a sexual frisson involved in map-reading, but that the distant longing for a landscape is usually far greater than the satisfaction gained by reaching it (eroticism’s essence being anticipation rather than consummation).
I want to thank Penguin, the publisher for providing this book for review.
If you are an island fan, you will also want to read
- Island Story (Okinawa)
- A Poet’s Story of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
- Not Quite Paradise (Sri Lanka)
- Travels to a Pacific Island (Marshall Islands)
And for Map lovers:
I took the photo of a St. Lucia beach was taken while I was a guest of the gorgeous East Winds Inn. The beach was right outside my apartment. Not remote, but SO island!
How about you? Share your island stories. What is the most remote or unique island you have ever visited?