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Download Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks Audiobook, by Ken Jennings Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,665 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ken Jennings Narrator: Kirby Heyborne Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9781452674377
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It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes listeners on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the "unreal estate" charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been. From the "Here be dragons" parchment maps of the Age of Discovery to the spinning globes of grade school to the postmodern revolution of digital maps and GPS, Maphead is filled with intriguing details, engaging anecdotes, and enlightening analysis. If you're an inveterate map lover yourself-or even if you're among the cartographically clueless who can get lost in a supermarket-let Ken Jennings be your guide to the strange world of mapheads. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Jennings is a very witty, insightful writer and has written an entertaining and educational book about maps and the geeks who obsess over them.”

    Pauline Frommer, travel writer and founding editor of Frommers.com

  • [Jennings is] alive to the larger meaning of maps as they overlay knowledge, desire, and aspiration onto the mute reality of terrain. The result is a delightful mix of lore and reportage that illuminates the longing to know where we are. Publishers Weekly Starred Review
  • “It’s a fun read that’s not just for wonks.”

    Salt Lake Tribune

  • “[A] spirited layman’s history of cartography.”

    Harpers

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 2/13/2014

    " An awesomely geeky indulgence for a map head such as myself. Easy to read and variety of themes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peebee | 2/9/2014

    " This was really well done for what it was...it didn't hold my attention throughout, that's probably more a fault of my interest in the subject than Jennings' proficiency as an author -- he's extremely knowledgeable and very entertaining. But it did make me realize I have more geography wonk tendencies that I had previously realized; and that I might take up geocaching at some point except that I would probably end up like Lynn Black, who just walked away from it all once she realized she had become too obsessed with it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 1/27/2014

    " Haven't yet read any of Ken Jennings' earlier books, I was pleasantly surprised as I began to read this one; I enjoy his style and had to restrain myself from reading portions aloud to my husband (am I alone in that understandably-annoying habit?) Maphead offers a treasure trove of interesting factoids about Geography (with a capital G) and subtly examines the habits of readers and lifelong learners across generations and over the centuries. An enjoyable, worthwhile read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 1/25/2014

    " Ken Jennings's richly breezy (is that possible?) Maphead is one of those great, totally geeked out single-subject surveys (here: maps) that goes down a million different, usually fascinating routes to tell the tale, educates and entertains in equal measure, PLUS offers enough personal anecdote and unabashed enthusiasm on and for the subject at hand to give it context, and make it all come alive (which is why I usually don't enjoy Mark Kurlansky's histories: all facts, no heart). Jennings, apparently, had some sort of record winning streak on Jeopardy in the mid-aughts, which is only relevant in that he still clearly appreciates minutia--there are thousands of interesting tidbits here, often in asterixed notes, most of which I've already forgotten--and he's pretty funny and surprisingly catty when Alex Trebek appears on the scene in the (by the way excellent) National Geographic Bee chapter. Other chapters include a visit to an antiquarian map show and the aging-fast gang of eccentrics who populate that world; a look at how Google maps will or won't change everything; a concise history of map-making in general; why cartography is different than geography; maps of imagined worlds, beginning with Tolkien; the (astonishing to me) massive popularity of geocaching, still, to this day, like it didn't end with AOL; the immeasurable, mostly uncatalogued depths of the map collection at the Library of Congress, and on. Add lots of self-deprecating humor (as well as too many way-corny jokes), some nice nostalgic bits about what looking at maps felt like when you're a kid (I guess you could count me as an amateur maphead), and you've got a solid five-star-er. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mitchell | 1/12/2014

    " A slow book, not meaty but kind of chewy. And it got slightly better and faster as it went on though a bit weak in the end. I'm definitely not a full fledged maphead, but I understand the completest view of things. I thought the author captured that rather well. And where the jaunty writing has been irritating in some of my recent science reads, in this it was entirely appropriate. 3.5 out of 5 for ending stronger than beginning. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arun | 1/9/2014

    " Great book for map lovers and for those who want to know everything about the current state of maps. However, the 1st person narrative style made this book hard to get through. The author infuses his personal feelings too often. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria | 1/9/2014

    " I love maps. If you also love maps, this book is for you. I kept reading excerpts out loud to my husband because I knew that he would be interested in them as well. I'm looking forward to reading _Braniac_ next. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 1/7/2014

    " Awesome. There are more than a few errors here: for example the closest degree confluence to his house (i.e.when writing the book) is not 48 deg. N and 122 deg. E, but rather 122 deg. W. To his credit the on-line forum at ken-jennings.com addresses the errata. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this work! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joel | 1/6/2014

    " An entertaining read on a subject I had no clue I was interested in! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/3/2014

    " Fun, a bit geeky, and a very enjoyable read. Like Jennings, I grew up loving maps, so I found a lot to enjoy in this book. The reader was good, but I caught a couple mispronunciations of place names, unforgivable in a book about maps and geography. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jake | 12/27/2013

    " There aren't enough books for geography buffs like me, so when I found this book I felt reassured that there is hope for this world. It is full of facts, figures, and witty jokes that only map nerds would get. All in all, excellent book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 12/8/2013

    " I love Ken Jennings writing style and I've always loved maps, making this book super enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky Preston | 10/17/2013

    " lots of different perspectives on a subject most of us for granted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alli | 9/26/2013

    " As a geography nerd, I absolutely loved this book. Informative AND funny! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frances | 7/6/2013

    " A great book for those that love maps..and who doesn't? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn Trlak-Donahue | 3/9/2013

    " Fascinating world of geography wonks...very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deena | 2/23/2013

    " A very readable survey of all the various manifestations of geo-passions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Victoria | 2/15/2013

    " Ken Jennings writing is funny and interesting, but I couldn't get into this one as much as Brainiac. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Teri | 2/5/2013

    " Read this for book club, and certainly appreciate maps more now, but definitely not a page turner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary Davis | 7/24/2012

    " Because, I am map (and chart) nerd! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tyler Green | 5/30/2012

    " Well-written and humorous, as Jennings takes a look at a different aspect of map fanaticism in each chapter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen Britt | 1/27/2012

    " All mapheads are not created equal. I love maps, but some people love different kinds of maps. Other people love making maps... Fun facts about maps and interesting connections I'd never make by myself. Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy guy, is a pretty great writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Will Boncher | 12/13/2011

    " Ken Jennings, you are a hilarious man. You write funny and informative books. I would very much like to be your friend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ownbymom Ownby | 11/29/2011

    " This is a well written book about what, to me at first, was an obscure topic. But it turned out that the topic actually wasn't that obscure at all. I had just not put the pieces together as well as Jennings does. It doesn't hurt that Jennings is very funny. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bridget | 11/7/2011

    " Just what you'd expect from a book about maps by Ken Jennings: pure, nerdy brilliance. I especially enjoyed how he related the concept of imprinting to humans and the places we grow up in (page 15). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Devin | 10/30/2011

    " Makes a pretty convincing case for being a "maphead" -- maps, and the study of geography, are extremely interesting as handled by Jennings. Leave it to a trivia whiz to know exactly which arcane (and not so arcane) information will be most fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 10/18/2011

    " This is a very fun book. I'm all inspired to get a globe for our living room. And take up geocaching. And how could I not like a book that mentions my husband my name?! Really, we're so famous. Plenty of interesting, well researched ideas here interspersed with very funny anecdotes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 10/16/2011

    " Clever, funny and full of interesting facts, regardless if you are a cartography/geography nerd. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn | 10/15/2011

    " This book was delightful. I learned SO MUCH map trivia in this wide-ranging compilation. It was fun to discover that there are many other map geeks out there like myself, who have often loved just staring at maps. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alicia | 10/4/2011

    " A great book. A great author. Funny and light and very informative. I don't know what else to say about it. It is just a good book and you should read it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 10/2/2011

    " This was a very entertaining and fun look inside the world of maps and geography, past, present, and future. If you have even a slightest bit of a map nerd inside, you will enjoy it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 10/2/2011

    " It appears that I am not the only one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 9/27/2011

    " I come from a family of mapheads and I definitely inherited a double maphead gene! Loved this book! "

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About the Author
Author Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings, best known as the winner of seventy-four games on the television show Jeopardy!, is the bestselling author of Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs and Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac. He lives near Seattle with his wife and children.

About the Narrator

Kirby Heyborne is a musician, actor, and professional narrator. Noted for his work in teen and juvenile audio, he has garnered twenty-two Earphones Awards. His audiobook credits include Jesse Kellerman’s The Genius, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, and George R. R. Martin’s Selections from Dreamsongs.