Mapmaking fulfills one of our most ancient and deep-seated 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.
You Are Here is a wide-ranging collection of such superbly inventive maps. These are charts of places you're not expected to find, but a voyage you take in your mind: an exploration of the ideal country estate from a dog's perspective; a guide to buried treasure on Skeleton Island; a trip down the road to success; or the world as imagined by an inmate of a mental institution. With over 100 maps from artists, cartographers, and explorers, You are Here gives the reader a breath-taking view of worlds, both real and imaginary.
Kitty Harmon is an incurable map collector and occasional map maker. She is a principal at Tributary Books in Seattle, Washington.
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"This colorful compendium of maps -- by artists, children, hikers, and others -- proves even cartography can be creative. Maps from a canine point of view, maps made of sticks or carved in stone, maps of concepts, the human body, and fictional places -- they all make sense in a wonderful way that renders 'up north' and 'down south' thoroughly passe."
"...explores its transcendental territory beautifully, using numerous charts of real and imaginary terrains created by artists, designers, and an assortment of daydreamers."
"Take a journey into the human psyche with YOU ARE HERE...You'll get lost in them before you know it."
Florida Inside Out:
"A beautiful meditation on mapping."
Raleigh News & Observer:
"We read for the great pleasures that even average works bring but also to increase our odds of encountering that rarest of books: the one that cracks our minds open wide with unexpected delights.
I came across one of these literary Holy Grails recently: 'You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination', edited by Katharine Harmon (Princeton Architectural Press, $19.95, paper). To describe it as a book of maps would be like calling 'Absalom, Absalom!' just a novel or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, just a building: not wrong, but not atall right."
The Calgary Herald:
"For anyone attracted to maps and for those who need an introduction, You Are Here will be an enchanting browse and a constant delight."
"This collection of artists' maps-subtitled "Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imaginations"-demonstrates our intrinsic need to imagine borders, however ridiculous and inaccurate they may be."
Yale Review of Books:
"Beautifully printed with hundreds of full-color illustrations, YOU ARE HERE is a loosely-tied-together collection of essays, quotations, and musings about maps that offers no concrete answers to the questions it poses.Instead, it becomes a kind of choose your own adventure for the reader. It asks us to make connections and posit our own theories as we go, unguided by an underlying thesis."
"Into this seemingly lighthearted 7"x10" look into people's love affairs with maps and mapmaking, Harmon packs some serious intellectual concepts about the human impulse to locate oneself in the cosmos; the intricate and thoughtful works she presents show mapmaking as diverse and extraordinary a human act as any other."
"The relationship between technology and visualization-in essence between mapmaking and the imagination-is made clear as a vast and fertile landscape of possibility. And this, along with Harmon's choice not to expound on this didactically, is the book's real strength."
"Katharine...began her pursiut as a hobby, collecting placment maps during a ten-month trip around the U.S. in 1986. Her hobby evolved into a gathering of works of geographical art, adeptly portrayed in YOU ARE HERE...
Maps, charts, and art pieces alike share the common emphasis of geographical representation and Katharine Harmon's unique presentation should not be missed."
San Francisco Bay Guardian:
"...beautifully designed and skillfully edited...an eclectic, thought-provoking meditation on the human impulse to make maps...YOU ARE HERE is both a celebration of finding one's place in the universe and a collection of alternate worlds in which to get lost."
Reno News & Review:
"Harmon has put together an intriguing assaying of map-making as an attempt to understand where we are and where we hope to get- whether it's Winnemucca or Zamboanga, Heaven or Hell."
"You Are Here is one of those books that does not fit into a category that most readers know. . . These maps take you to voyages of the mind, of the subconscious, of the dream world."
". . . a quirky browser's delight . . ."
The Years Best Art Books, Newsday:
"Exploration is at the heart of "You Are Here, Katharine Harmon's compendium of "personal geographies," her catch-all term for quirky maps and map-inspired art carrying a strong imprint of the individual who created it. Harmon juxtaposes work by noted artists and designers (Claes Oldenberg, Seymour Chwast) with tickling discoveries by more unlikely candidates."
Scrapbooking & Beyond:
"The author's selections are varied and wonderful. You just might be tempted to begin making maps as part of a journal or scrapbook or as a rainy day activity with children.
The maps are beautiful, intriguing, strange and whimsical, with excellent supporting text. This is a book to savor, absorb, and return to again and again for ideas and inspiration."
BRAIN PICKINGS "Must-Read Books on Maps":
"A beautiful and meditative compendium of maps and musings on maps exploring, in the broadest possible terms, the human condition."
It's Wonderful! (rating 5 out of 5):
I bought this book sight unseen to be a Christmas gift. My wife and I paged through and were both amazed. It really is wonderful; a different type of book. I will buy at least two more (and maybe a second to keep) before Christmas as gifts.
- James Bricken from California (11/20/2003)