You Can’t Get There From Here… Or Anywhere: A Geographer’s Review of “Atlas of Remote Islands”

April 10, 2023

Sharing is Caring

Author’s Note:  What would geography be without mysteries to be explored, and maybe, but not always, solved. Let's explore the unknown, a running theme to the books in this series of posts.

In contrast to the rich colors of the previously reviewed “Atlas of the Invisible,” the maps in Judith Schalansky's “Atlas of Remote Islands” are stark, with only four colors. This befits the subtitle, “Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will.” As we dive into the page-pairs of text and map, we start to feel the remoteness of these places.

The descriptions tell the story of these islands, not simply in geographic terms but through the unique stories of their human and nonhuman essence. Schalansky divides the chapters geographically by ocean, from the Arctic, to Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Antarctic.

The text is dramatic and personal, as when an explorer on Macquarie Island off New Zealand "completely disappears into the field of black and white" (he is eaten by the millions of sea-birds on the island) or when describing the displacement of thousands of people to make way for the British military base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The page-pairs of text and maps are compelling. Some are uplifting; others are disturbing. However, before you dive into those, be sure to read the preface, which offers context to the armchair adventures upon which you will set sail... and hopefully return.

Read the other blogs in this series: 

Check out other Books for Geography Lovers!

Reposted from The DirectionsMag Geospatial Community Blog, an extension of Directions Magazine. Visit us for daily geospatial news, exclusive articles, geospatial webinars, and podcasts. If you are interested in contributing, please email


Sharing is Caring

Geospatial Newsletters

Keep up to date with the latest geospatial trends!

Sign up

Search DM

Get Directions Magazine delivered to you
Please enter a valid email address
Please let us know that you're not a robot by using reCAPTCHA.
Sorry, there was a problem submitting your sign up request. Please try again or email

Thank You! We'll email you to verify your address.

In order to complete the subscription process, simply check your inbox and click on the link in the email we have just sent you. If it is not there, please check your junk mail folder.

Thank you!

It looks like you're already subscribed.

If you still experience difficulties subscribing to our newsletters, please contact us at