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Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance Survey [Paperback]

Mike Parker
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2010

'My name is Mike and I am a map addict. There, it's said…'

Mike Parker, presenter of Radio 4’s On the Map, celebrates the richness of all things maps in this fantastic, critically-acclaimed read.

Have you ever got through an entire day without referring to some kind of navigational aide, be it checking the A-Z, touring the globe on Google Earth, planning a walk or navigating a shopping centre? Maps are everywhere and they are, according to self proclaimed map-addict Mike Parker, the unsung heroes of life. Here he sings their song, celebrating everything cartographic.

With a mix of wry observation and hard fact, the offbeat and the completely pedantic, Parker wages a one-man war against the moronic blandishments of the Sat Nav age. He combines cartographic history and trivia with memoir and oblique observation to create a highly readable exposé of the world of maps. Only here can you find out which area has officially been named by the OS as the most boring square kilometre in the land and whether Milton Keynes was really built to pagan alignment.

Confessing that his own impressive map collection was founded on a virulent teenage shoplifting habit Parker ponders how a good leftie can be so gung-ho about British cartographic imperialism and establishes himself as defender and saviour of British cartography in the internet age.

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Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance Survey + Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; Reprint edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007351577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007351572
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Mike Parker has had a varied career, which at one point saw him working as a stand-up comedian. He has been widely published and also presents various travel programmes for radio and television. His books to date include the Rough Guide to Wales as well as several other guide books. He writes freelance travel pieces for most of the UK papers, including the Independent, the Independent on Sunday, the Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Mirror.

Product Description


‘Mike Parker offers an exhilarating celebration of the humble map.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Excellent book,’ Daily Telegraph

‘This eclectic, funny and warm book should be on the shelves of everyone who has spent hours staring at a map.’ The Great Outdoors

‘a witty entreaty to leave the satnav in the car, and to head for the hills with the Ordnance Survey.’ BBC Country File magazine

‘a highly engaging and thoughtful, haphazard and personal, meander around maps and map-related arcane.’ Daily Mail

‘Parker makes his view of cartography both interesting and funny.’ Choice magazine

‘a funny, observant and genuinely interesting book.’ Adventure Travel

‘As you'd expect, given Mike's legendary wit, this is a book that's well worth a read.’ Midland Zone

‘In fact, it is a sense of mischievousness that makes this book quite charming.’ South Wales Argus

‘Nerdy it might seem, but the author's humour and historical knowledge of mad map makers, visionary breakthroughs and a deep love of exploration make this little book a treat.’ Royston Crow

‘Parker uses his own experience to add warmth and humour to a topic that may not, at first glance, appear enticing to the average reader. Accessible and entertaining.’ Country & Border Life

‘Parker proves a witty and engaging guide’ Guardian


'A highly engaging and thoughtful, haphazard and personal, meander around maps and map-related arcana' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar 16 May 2010
Borrowed the paperback version from the library last week, when it appeared on the "New Books" stand. Having all 204 Landranger maps, some in many different editions, plus loads of the old One Inch OS series, I suppose I could be considered a bit of an addict. So I was really looking forward to reading this.

On the plus side, a lot of it made me smile. I especially enjoyed the story of his friend who knew all the postcode districts and the way the author intimated that the reader would probably be interested in those too. I learnt quite a bit about some of the history and internal politics behind mapping. Enjoyed the section comparing different OS Landranger sheets too. Also for much of the time, the book was hard to put down.

However....... Got rather tired with all the "boyfriend and me" stuff. Also all the New Age analysis went rather over my head. I wanted more about maps, rather than the tiresome ramblings that the book took us through in the middle sections.

Production wise, the colour section was good, but the black and white illustrations within the text were poorly executed.

So three stars from me.
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98 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cartophilia! 19 Jun 2009
Mike Parker, a Rough Guide editor and Welsh-TV travel presenter, has written an enormously and endlessly fascinating book about everything of or pertaining to the British Life of Maps. It's a history, memoir, polemic, paean, psychogeography, and love poem dedicated to the Ordnance Survey map and all things cartographic. And, because Mr Parker is a dryly amusing chap with some fairly cutting observations and insights to share, it's also laugh-out-loud funny in places.

This really is the perfect book for map lovers, and the perfect read for people who didn't even know they cared about maps at all. Written very much from the same stable as books like Cod, Longitude, Salt, The Surgeon of Crowthorne etc, it takes one seemingly small subject and explodes it into something kaleidoscopically fascinating and revealing and inspiring. I couldn't put it down.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the negative reviews 26 Feb 2011
I almost didn't buy this book because of some of the reviews on here, but after finding it on a friend's bookshelf and getting hooked when browsing I'm glad I finally did get it.

No, the book is not a complete history of maps - it is a conversational book filled with interesting and unusual facts and stories about all kinds of maps, from OS to A-Z. Yes, some of the chapters do seem to have a bit of a tenuous link to mapping (I struggled to see the relevance of chapter 7: Carto Erotica in particular), but that doesn't make them any less interesting. As for the 'travels with the boyfriend' that many reviewers have marked the book down on, I hardly noticed the references and certainly didn't feel like the book became a personal travel diary.

If you want a really good and light-hearted read, and perhaps to learn something into the bargain, I'd definitely recommend this book. If, however, you want an academically sound history of cartography then this book probably isn't for you.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars View from Coventry with Seagulls 31 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't remember how I chanced on this book but thought it was right up my street (pun intended). I am not a map perv but I do like looking at them to the extent that in 1984 I actually 'phoned the OS to tell them they had a mistake on their North Norfolk map where the two bits around Blakeney Point met (on different sheets) - perhaps it was genetic as both my mother and her brother worked for the OS before and after WW2.

The introduction annoyed me with overuse of the word 'rapt'. It was only in there twice but stuck out like a trig point because it's not too common a word. Also throughout the book there are many instances of 'I was sat' 'we were sat' - are all editors and proof readers illiterate these days? The B+W photos within the text are a bit rubbish too.I wasn't particularly keen on his open confession of stealing maps, I think I would have kept that quiet or have been a bit more subtle about it (not sure how though).

Anyway minor gripes apart the first part of the book is great, particularly the chapter about the OS (Parker describes Southampton, home of the OS, as Coventry with Seagulls, which having lived there for over 70% of my life a) made me laugh and b) I thought it was a generous comment to the dump it has become), the French meridian etc - this was what I thought the book was about, great stuff.

However, somewhat ironically, I think Parker loses his map for the latter half or so of the book as it becomes a book about things that might be found on maps rather than the maps themselves, then descends into slagging off guide books, and going on trains around Europe.

He also displays the dichotomy of the 'celeb' which reminded me of Bill Oddie.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are we there yet? 8 Jan 2010
This book is nicely written and starts off quite brightly. The author's reminiscences of map-stealing are amusing and create empathy for his narrative. I could easily picture myself pulling off a map heist at 8 years old.
What I found a little harder to visualise was myself viewing unusual mapping features in the company of a boyfriend ! And it's not just me being homophobic....if it's the feature which is under discussion, why mention anyone at all, be it wife, girlfriend, etc.
From that point on, the book seems more about going places with said boyfriend than anything of cartographic interest. For example, a whole chapter is devoted to rude placenames on the OS, whilst the Mercator / Peter's Projection argument is dismissed in just 3 pages. (If that means nothing to you, then you shouldn't read this book anyway).
I would have welcomed greater detail on this and other mapping alternatives. The whole book is more about "where I went with my OS Landranger" than any analytical discussion of cartography, although the section on map history is quite interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the message is in the title
combines bits and pieces from all of all of the other mapping books, but with a different viewpoint that aids the intricate nature of the history of mapping. good book
Published 2 months ago by michael hadfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Interetsting
Having travelled all over the UK mainly using maps (even with a Sat Nav I still keep maps with me) this was an interesting read with some amusing and revealling comments.
Published 3 months ago by L A Markham
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like maps you'll love this.....
I don't see how any map-lover could fail to be entranced by this compendium of all things map-related.
A great read.
Published 4 months ago by Aurelian
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Wordy
I like my books to be quite full of information without unnecessary padding (like maps!). Mike Parker has many interesting things to say, but I found that I was having to plough... Read more
Published 5 months ago by M J HUGHES
1.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating subject - a very literate author - sadly a failed...
As one who finds great beauty and fascination in maps, especially OS, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Present
Bought as a present so have not read it myself but going from the reviews thought would be excellent for the person bought for.
Published 8 months ago by RAK
4.0 out of 5 stars A pub conversation not a classroom lecture
I thought I was a map addict, but I'm a dilettante compared to the author and the even more fanatical map addicts referred to within his book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by A. J. W. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Really connected with this
As a geography teacher and self confessed map addict I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. Really enjoyed the journey this took me on.
Published 10 months ago by Serenaace333
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous summer read!
Wittily written with a light touch - this is after all a topic with at least as many anorak enthusiasts as train-spotting. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jem
2.0 out of 5 stars A little boring for a self confessed map addict
Being a self-confessed map addict (I to own the whole Landranger OS collection), I was very intrigued by this book. Subsequently I feel let down. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rachel
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