I can’t imagine it comes as much of a surprise when I say that I love maps in books. Kelley, Leanne, and I have created a Bookish Guide dedicated to the darn things, and if I find a map in a book I often share it on Instagram. I’m all about books having maps in them.
But, I think it’s about time I finally admitted my deep dark secret…
I never use the maps provided in books.
That’s right. I tend to get excited when I open a book and see a map hidden in the front pages. I study it and talk about how cool it is online and drool over it’s prettiness. I think it’s the best thing ever.
But I don’t actually refer to the map when reading a book.
(I know, I find myself to be quite weird, too.)
Maps are there for a reason, right? They’re supposed to guide the reader along the character’s journey and help them understand the world the author has created. And yet for some reason I never utilize them.
I’m not quite sure why this hesitancy to use maps in books exists within me. I’ve been trying to think about it, and I’ve come up with a couple of different possible reasons:
I dislike geography. It has never been my strong suit. The different terrains, the distance between places, those four difficult directions that I can only remember by telling myself ‘never eat sour worms’… Yeah, it just wasn’t my favorite subject in school. I think my past struggles with geography in school put me off maps. (And with the help of the Internet and my iPhone, I don’t really ever need to read maps to get from one point to another.)
I hate interrupting my reading to check other things. This goes beyond maps. I never use glossaries, character lists, maps, etc. while reading books, and I never stop to Google something represented in the book or to search the dictionary for the meaning of a certain word. I get that references are provided in books to help the reader, and that we as readers should allow books to inspire us to look up new things, but when I’m reading a book I’m reading a book and just feel like that other stuff pulls me out of the experience.
I don’t pay close attention to world building. I’ve never been a reader who is overly critical of an author’s world building. Sure, I want a world to be fully detailed and make sense and all that. But honestly? I just sort of accept whatever world the author throws at me. I tend to focus more on the characters and the plot than the actual world the story’s taking place in, so knowing where places are in relation to each other or what the terrain looks like isn’t important to me. (I almost rather have a drawing of each character to help me visualize them because I’m utter crap at imagining characters in my head.)
I almost feel like an impostor, in a way, each time I announce my love for maps online. To share my delight in their existence one minute but then to ignore them the next while reading the book just feels wrong. But I don’t think I can change the way I am! I will always appreciate the inclusion of a map in a book, even to the point that I might choose to buy one book over another just because it includes a map. But I will never actually use them as a reference while reading a story. It’s just not part of my reading experience.