Oxford Atlas of the World

For those still interested in a tangible, offline personal library, some volumes--such as the regularly revised Oxford Atlas of the World, now in its 15th edition--are fundamental.

Book Digest Assuming you have not been totally co-opted and reduced to an incidental node in the circuitry of the faceless conspiracy known as the WWW, it’s possible you may have some feeling for the idea of a personal library. You know, real books, on some semblance of shelving or containment, organized with an idea of accessibility in mind—though I recall Umberto Eco claimed not to have catalogued or organized the 35,000 books in his home library.

Though I am not normally prescriptive, I believe there are some fundamental volumes one ought to include in their own library: a dictionary (or two—I have the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary and the sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary), a quotations compendium (I have six or seven of the Bartlett’s editions of the 20th century, up to the 16th edition), and an atlas. In the case of the last, I opt for the oversized (11x15 inches) Oxford Atlas of the World (Oxford University Press), currently in its 15th edition—its regular revision being one of its many attractions.

It is a rich and vivid compendium of geographical data, and its updates feature detailed graphs and tables demonstrating changes in climate, the greenhouse effect, global warming, and plate tectonics. There is, of course, a masterful use of satellite images, all of which are introduced by a concise and intelligible primer on world geography. Cheaper and safer than a plane trip. For sure.
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