Places & Spaces My Library

My Library – Where You Are

January 9, 2014

Woah! We are well into January already. Doesn’t time just fly?

Today, I have a my library post for you and I chose it to kick off the year on Colourliving (well, except for my #tinasjubilee giveaway) because I think it’s quite apt. Ok, I admit, it’s maps yet again (you already know I’m maps obsessed) but this time they are different to what you might think! No, the reason I chose it is because I’m not a great believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I’m an eternal student that takes stock on a regular basis and adjusts my learning accordingly. I believe that where we are is just where we need to be and as long as we move forward in some ways, whichever way, that’s fine. It’s also ok to feel lost sometimes and go and search for the answers or wait for the answers to appear from within.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to show you how a group of different people interpreted the brief of looking at everything we map: “we don’t just map our days, our thoughts, memories, what we want to mark, save and share. Because today it seems, that most of the time, despite all this mapping, we actually don’t really have a clear sense of where we are.”

Where You Are is a beautiful collection of 16 personal maps, housed in a delightful box, written by 16 artists, writers and thinkers. Published by Visual Editions it’s a feast for the eyes as well as for the mind and soul. Published back in November 2013 it has had very good response and as a result is sold out with the publishers. Fret not, more copies will arrive by the end of the month.

A whole year in the making, this labour of love is pure storytelling in the form of maps, but not in the traditional sense as we know it. Each booklet explores the idea of what a map can be. There’s something for everyone, for the more traditional amongst you right to the ones that love something more obscure and metaphorical. The result is a very diverse book of ‘maps’ that might/will leave you feeling completely lost, but can offer a plethora of ideas and thoughts which are truly satisfying and inspirational!

The box, beautifully designed, is a work of art in itself!


I particularly like that the introduction is printed inside the cover, as seen here below.




I’ve chosen to show you some of my favourite maps, but they are all truly worthy contenders.

Denis Wood — The Paper Route Empire – is a lovely booklet mapping the joint memories of a group of boys’ newspaper route trails. Great sketches and an unfolding map supports this storytelling.




Sheila Heti/Ted Mineo — How to be Good When You’re Lost – Finding different ways to make hard everyday choices. You’ll find some lovely illustrations and cut-outs inside.



James Bridle — You Are Here – a cultural, technological and visual mapping of the Global Positioning Systems. Simple and effective.


Leanne Shapton — Tablescapes – Paintings of objects or ‘desk still-lifes’ on her tabletop at the end of every day. Leanne ‘began to photograph and paint these tablescapes when I realized I navigated my week and work based on the topography of my desk or tabletop.” They are utterly charming.



Alain de Botton — On the Pleasure of Maps – a historical precis of maps: from the Garden of Eden to Marco Polo. De Botton writes a wonderful essay, illustrated by some old maps attached to the end of the booklet!

“If looking at a map seems a bore, it is perhaps because we only ever do so when we’re lost. Pulled up at the edge of a country road, we grow red trying to match the scene through the windscreen with the arrangement of shapes on the map – and more often than not, fail completely to locate where on earth we might be. The map comes to seem an instrument of humiliation, in command of a landscape which we cannot comprehend through our senses.
What can therefore be most charming about looking at old maps is the way they get everything wrong.”



For anyone who loves maps and is curious to see a different take on it, this is a gem of a publication. The price tag is well worth it and ‘Where You Are’ is a welcome addition to my collection of books on maps!

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  • Reply Nicola January 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Great article on a great book with great artists! I like the methodology and cataloguing that’s involved, perhaps that’s the appeal of mapping to an eye trained in graphics.

    Always believed ‘where I am is where I need to be’ but now I’m not so sure. Obviously need to map things out to make sense of it all xx

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 7:10 am

      I was so excited when I first heard of this. Such a good idea and an interesting take on ‘mapping’.

      Ha. Yes, that’s a tought one and probably will be revealed at some point.
      Thanks Nicola. When i next visit, I shall bring along the Book x

  • Reply Lena January 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Always happy to find great book recommendations on your blog, Tina – and this one might even be my favourite so far. The tablesscape maps and newspaper route maps are fantastic! Thanks for that daily dose of inspiration.

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

      I have a love for many Books and they are all different. This one is much more complex, varied and intellectual in some way. I am in love with this sort of mapping for the mind and soul.

      For me, the fascination is to see what maps can be….

      The tablescape is so interesting and really inspired me. Yes, the Newspaper route made me chuckle.
      Your welcome…. and thank you!

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey January 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    If I can just quote something you wrote above: “I believe that where we are is just where we need to be and as long as we move forward in some ways, whichever way, that’s fine. It’s also ok to feel lost sometimes and go and search for the answers or wait for the answers to appear from within.”

    That is beautiful and extremely apt for me right here, right now. I need to believe more in what you say in those few sentences. So for that piece alone, thank you.

    This set is beautifully presented. I especially love the box and its colour. Grey & yellow are the perfect combo. I don’t know many of the authors, but Alain de Botton is a favourite. His wisdom never fails to impress and what he says about reading maps is spot on. Love it!

    A great ‘my library’ post. So when do you think the British Library will establish their map section at your place then 😉

    Hugs Gerard xx

    • Reply Alison Sye January 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      I love that quote too, Gerard.

      • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        Thank you x

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 7:19 am

      Gerard, sometimes it’s hard to accept that where we are is where we need to be…

      It’s a mantra I have been living by for many years. This is on so many levels.
      Patience is really hard and trusting in that the universe will provide can sometimes be even harder. Stay with it all and much learning will be revealed to you.
      Meanwhile try to also have some fun because it’s only too easy to beat down on ourselves..
      I obviously speak from experience:-)

      Grey and yellow…. Wonderful combo, although as a Graphic Designer I was disappointed in the Logo…

      Ha. Well, let me ask the British Library but I think they’ve got them all already:-)
      Thanks G xx

  • Reply Alison Sye January 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I’m going to have to seek this out Tina, I want to feel it in my hands and look at it properly. Thank you for telling us about it, because I had never heard of it. Very keen to look more closely at the newspaper round map as I used to do similar things when I was a student – my route to the shops/library/college etc…

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      You need to, when we next meet I’ll bring it along OR try Magma in Covent Garden…. when it’s back in stock!

      I think you would enjoy most of them x

  • Reply Carole Poirot January 9, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    This is so interesting, I love the idea of tablescapes as a map! It makes total sense to me. I spend so much time at my desk and it does determine a lot about where I’m going with my life, so this is just like a perfect metaphor. On the other hand, in life as on the road, I tend to let my “sixth sense” guide me and I will only pull out a map (or ask for guidance) if I feel truly stuck or lost. I hope it makes sense… Will have to seek out that book and take a peek at it. xo

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      The tablescapes are brilliant, and yes it’s a great metaphor.

      Using your 6th sense is good but asking for help once in a while is also good…. Just sayin….

  • Reply Louisa January 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Hi Tina,

    What a brilliant, brilliant find! Such an original and interesting idea, and so beautifuly presented. Thanks for sharing this with us readers.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Hey you,

      Glad you enjoyed having a peek at this x

  • Reply Parisbreakfast January 10, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I love anything with maps and all maps is Tops!

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Haha. Yes, you and me together… Happy New Year!

  • Reply Jocelyn Casey January 10, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Just beautiful, TIna. Simply wonderful. Thank you for sharing this and your insight. x

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Glad it spoke to you…. X

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily January 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Oh I’ve been dying to see these and get them-and now they’ve run out!!! Thank goodness I can see them here then lovely. Will make sure I don’t miss out on the next print run-love love xx

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Well, happy to be of service…hope you get to see a copy soon x

  • Reply Igor January 12, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    What a great and interesting book/art piece! Definitely a great idea for map lovers:-)

    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Yes, they call it a Book but it’s not really a Book. It’s a collection of booklets housed in a box.
      Really different take to usual maps:-)

  • Reply Holly January 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Very creative and curious. Next time I’m over, I’ll want to see them all 🙂 Love the idea of the desktop stills by Shapton.

    Another great peek into your library!


    • Reply tina January 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Haha. The Library awaits you. i gave away around 30 books in my clearout over the christmas period, to make room for new stuff:-)

      Hop over to London anytime. I think you would like the maps a lot.
      Been looking at my Memory Palace lately;-)) x

  • Reply Doris January 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I have to agree whole heartedly with Gerard & Alison, you write your posts so poetically and your wisdom floors me at times. I also don’t believe in new years resolutions, I feel that every year brings something different in your life and if you have laughed more than you cried, it’s been a good year 🙂 The maps are lovely. I especially liked the point that most people think maps are borning because they only reference when they are lost 🙂 I am just always in awe into the amount of work that goes into them. xD

    • Reply tina January 17, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      For some reason I just discovered your comment. It went into needing approval??? Not sure why, as WP recognises your email as you leave regular comments!

      Woops, not sure anyone ever called my writing ‘poetic’. Thank you ‘blush’. Glad there is resonance in some stuff I write..:-)

      “I feel that every year brings something different in your life and if you have laughed more than you cried, it’s been a good year :)” I like that… a lot!

      I know what you mean and I’m also flabbergasted at the amount of work that goes into maps. Thanks Doris!

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