Maphead – Ken Jennings

DSC00219I’ve loved maps for as long as I can remember. Geography, or should I say, place-names and their location, has always come naturally to me. In 4th grade I aced the ‘Canadian Provinces and Territories’ quiz with ease on my first try. I could stare at maps for hours. I am obsessed with sporcle games that involve anything to do with naming places and/or their capitals. I legitimately took a class in university because I heard on the first day of class, they were quizzed on the countries of Africa. I had heard of the book ‘Maphead’ years ago, being an avid follower of Ken Jennings’ twitter account, but never got around to picking it up. I found it a week or so ago on sale for $6.50, and I had to scoop it up.

If you are unaware of Ken Jennings’ celebrity, he was that guy who was on ‘Jeopardy!’ for like, ever a decade ago. He had the greatest run in the show’s history, and came out with over 100 grand. Since then, he’s been busy writing a few books and being hilarious on twitter. No seriously, go check it out.

This book was different than I was expecting. I thought it would be mainly geography facts, which I guess it kind of was, just not in the way I was anticipating. Each chapter covers a different aspect of geography in a roundabout way. For example, chapter 7, titled ‘Reckoning’ gives us the story of the Geography Bee, how children get into geography, and the disparity between male and female geographers. Chapter 8, ‘Meander’, is the one I connect with the most. It’s about systematic travel, those who travel based on lists. For example, my major travel list is to hit up all of the Major League Baseball parks. I knew I wasn’t the only one who did this sort of thing, but I didn’t realize it had a name.

This book is not everyone’s cup of tea. I know a lot of people have never heard of geocaching, and when they find out what it’s about, they don’t care. But for you fellow geography nerds, this one is for you! Although, if you were a super hardcore geography nerd, you probably bought this book 3 years ago when it came out and have read it cover-to-cover a number of times since.

I would definitely recommend this book if you have any interest in geography or maps. Or even if you don’t, if you can pick it up for cheap, do so. It looks great on bookshelves.


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