maps of the imagination

I learned about this book from a NaNoWriMo forum post, or maybe from the ChiWriMo Facebook group. Either way, I heard about it from another writer. The title intrigued me, as I love both writing and maps, particularly fictional maps. I saw the cover, and I was sold. I put a hold on it at the library, and a few months later, after I had completely forgotten about it, it showed up and intrigued me all over again.

This is a dense book, the kind that leaves you brain a bit exhausted after reading for awhile. Think, post-workout, happy exhaustion, not 80 hour work week exhaustion. I read several other books during the time I read this one, because Maps demanded more of me as I reader. I was expected to mull things over, reread passages, and ponder turns of phrase.

The analogy from the title is well supported throughout the book. The basic idea is that much like a cartographer, a writer leads someone through an unfamiliar landscape. My favorite part of the analogy is the idea of deciding what is important to show, and what can/should be left out. The decision on what not to include, whether in a recipe, book, art piece, collection, or life, is as important as the decision of what to conclude. Not including allows for white space, allows for the things included to make an impression. Like the cartographer, the writer has a much deeper knowledge of the landscape than what they can include in their work. The examples of both writing and cartography included in the text further illustrate the analogy.

This is a philosophical look at the way a writer needs to think about their work. I think this video does a better job at summarizing the book than I can, so enjoy.

Title: Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer
Author: Peter Turchi
Pages: 224
Age level: Adult
Illustrated: Yes
Who I would give this book to: Map lovers, aspiring writers who are ready to think about how they think about writing
Favorite Moment:
Rating: 4 stars
Book Source: Library