I received a couple of excellent cartography-themed books this Christmas:
Mapping Hacks (referral) is an O’Reilly book and is right up my street – I had it high on my wish list. Although unfortunately it was published just before the Google Maps API was made available and everyone when Google Maps Mashup crazy, it nevertheless contains a great pile of neat, computer-based GIS and mapping tricks, and background information – such as how to convert between the various coordinate systems, plot the “great circle” on a flat map, and even how to publish your own geodata to the internet for others to use. Note though that some of the tips are PC only, and some are only useful in the US, due to the vast amount of geographic information available for free on the internet from the US Military and US government. Sadly, the UK is a bit behind in opening up its GIS data, so another US military website, GNS is where I’ve sourced a list of coordinates for UK features for playing with one of the hacks. The book has a website (or rather, the latter spawned the former.)
You Are Here (referral) was an unexpected, but similarly essential present. The book is described as “Personal geographies and other maps of the imagination” – think of it as a glossy art book – but entirely composed oa maps, old and new. The presentation is top-quality and the “artwork” is simply beautiful. Daniel Wallingford’s A New Yorker’s View of the United States (c. 1939) reminds me a lot of a more contempory map I saw once of “The UK, according to Londoners” which has Great London occupying most of southern England, and “icebergs and floes” somewhere up in Scotland – the roads stop at Jocks Lodge somewhere in Northern England, and beyond, Here Be Dragons. Similarly in Wallingford’s piece, Staten Island is just north of Florida, and the state of Hollywood (capital, LA) is just south of California – which is itself dwarfed by the state of San Francisco.