I often sit and stare at the map on the wall above my computer, looking not at the large land masses but at the tiny dots scattered throughout the huge oceans. The tiny dots are, of course, islands and as such, offer up images of sunshine, palm trees, coconuts, and easy living.

In reality, the majority of these tiny dots represent small remote islands with fascinating names that intrigue and entice you to come and visit. Their extreme climatic and geological conditions, however, often make access to them difficult, if not down right impossible.

But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go.

And reading a recent review of the Atlas of Remote Islands it’s pretty clear I’m not the only one who stares at tiny dots on the map.

Written by acclaimed novelist and award-winning graphic designer Judith Schalansky, the Atlas of Remote Islands is the result of a lifelong fascination with maps. Growing up in East Germany, Judith’s only opportunity to travel was through the pages of old atlases.

Years later, her continual love affair with atlases shines through with her own imaginative atlas to fifty  of the world’s loneliest islands.

With hand drawn detailed topographic maps and intricate local histories, each of the islands comes alive through stories about marooned slaves, lonely scientists, lost explorers, mutinous sailors, confused lighthouse keepers, and forgotten castaways.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.