Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "All Over the Map" by Betsy Mason and Greg Miller, Served with a Recipe for Butter-Toasted Apricot Oatmeal

It's Thursday evening and Friday is headed over the horizon. If you are going to spend the weekend thinking about holiday gift giving, check out my review of All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey by Betsy Mason and Greg Miller for TLC Book Tours. It's a gorgeous National Geographic book that's perfect for map lovers and world-explorers. Along with my review is a fantastic recipe for my new favorite breakfast, Butter-Toasted Apricot Oatmeal by Ruth Reichl to give you the strength to go exploring.

Publisher's Blurb:

Created for map lovers by map lovers, this rich book explores the intriguing stories behind maps across history and illuminates how the art of cartography thrives today.
In this visually stunning book, award-winning journalists Betsy Mason and Greg Miller–authors of the National Geographic cartography blog “All Over the Map”–explore the intriguing stories behind maps from a wide variety of cultures, civilizations, and time periods. Based on interviews with scores of leading cartographers, curators, historians, and scholars, this is a remarkable selection of fascinating and unusual maps.
This diverse compendium includes ancient maps of dragon-filled seas, elaborate graphics picturing unseen concepts and forces from inside Earth to outer space, devious maps created by spies, and maps from pop culture such as the schematics to the Death Star and a map of Westeros from Game of Thrones. If your brain craves maps–and Mason and Miller would say it does, whether you know it or not–this eye-opening visual feast will inspire and delight.

Hardcover: 320 pages  
Publisher: National Geographic (October 30, 2018)

My Review:

I love maps--especially old maps with lots of character. I also adore books where the author includes a map--particularly if it is historical and a place that looks different today, or maps of fictional, made up worlds, so I immediately wanted to be on the TLC Book Tour for All Over the Map. It is a big, beautiful and utterly fascinating book featuring all kinds of unique maps that chart worlds both real and imagined. As it came late and I want to savor this book, I have not fully read it (yet) but I spent a pleasant few hours paging through it and finding it full of glorious pictures and interesting tidbits of history, geography, and cartography. 

The book is broken up into nine sections: Waterways, Cities, Conflict and Crisis, Landscapes, Economies, Science, Human Experiences, Worlds, and Art and Imagination. There are also sections for Further Reading (including resources and bibliographies) and a very detailed Index; both of which I appreciate. I was happy to find Parceling Out Paradise, about the ahupua'a, sections of land in Hawaii divided almost like a pie so that the owners would have a piece that stretched from the mountains through forests and farmlands to the sea. The 19th century maps (see the lower left two pictures in the collage below) are interesting and since my visitors almost always ask about the Ahupua'a signs that dot the roadways here, I can point them to this information. Maps of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake also pulled my immediate interest, as did the entire Conflict and Crisis maps of wars--especially the several WWII related maps. The fictional maps of the lands of Game of Thrones and the Death Star from Star Wars are fun, the maps made after the 2016 election showing the changed political landscape in the U.S. are telling, the maps of waterways and landscapes are stunning, and the 19th century maps showing the death toll in the U.K. from cholera are chilling. I could go on and on describing the many maps that grabbed my attention--there are just so many different kinds of cool maps in this book. 

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of All Over the Map and once I make my way through it, I plan to keep it as a reference. I'm that geeky person who likes to look things up to learn more as I read, and while Google is handy, having big color maps and detailed stories and information is even better. I predict that this book will be a hot seller for the holidays as I think anyone picking it up to page through it will want one for themselves and want to get one for a map-loving or hard-to-buy-for friend. Highly recommended.

Author Notes:

BETSY MASON is a science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously she was the online science editor for Wired, where she built an award-winning science section, the highest-traffic section on the site. Mason earned a master’s degree in geology at Stanford University. Follow Betsy on Twitter, @betsymason.

GREG MILLER is a science and tech journalist based in Portland, Oregon. Previously he was a senior writer at Wired and a staff writer at Science, where he won several honors. Miller earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford University. Follow Greg on Twitter, @dosmonos.

Recipe Inspiration:

OK, I will be honest. I wanted to make this Ruth Reichl oatmeal recipe this week for I Heart Cooking Clubs and decided to work it into my book inspired dish. I think maps are for explorers--whether you actually get out your maps and take off, or you are exploring a new world from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. Explorers need a good hearty breakfast like oatmeal to give them energy. Also (as my friend Barb wisely noted), you can find oatmeal and its variations in many countries all over the map. I think it works and so Butter-Toasted Apricot Oatmeal is my food pairing for this book. 

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--noted in red below.

Butter-Toasted Apricot Oatmeal
Slightly Adapted from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
(Serves 2)

1 cup steel-cut oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
brown sugar (I used raw sugar)

Begin by melting a dollop of unsalted butter in a small pan until it becomes fragrant and slightly golden. Toss in the oats and worry them about until they're glistening , have turned slightly brown , and are very fragrant; it should take about 5 minutes.

Add 4 cups of water (I reduced the amount to 2 cups water + 1/3 cup cream for my Old Fashioned Oats) and the salt; turn up the heat and bring to a furious boil. Turn the heat down very low, cover the pot, and cook until most of the water has evaporated; this process should take about half an hour. At the last minute, stir in a handful of chopped dried apricots, heap the oatmeal into warmed bowls, and top with a few crumbles of brown sugar and a generous drizzle of cream.

Notes/Results: I am a bit hit-or-miss about oatmeal. I don't love it, but I go through phases where I eat it. That might change with Ruth's recipe. Toasting the oats in butter before cooking them gives the oatmeal another layer of flavor--toasty and more complex and the perfect foil for the bites of sweet dried apricots--it was delicious. I had old-fashioned oats in my pantry so that's what I used, plus they take less time to cook (and less water) making them perfect for a busy night or morning. I happily gobbled up a bowl for dinner and put the rest aside to take to work for breakfast tomorrow. I will make this again. 

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs for Morning Glories--Ruth Reichl breakfast recipes. 

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "All Over the Map" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.   You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.  



  1. I've been thinking about oatmeal lately- this recipe looks great!

  2. I love (and agree) with how you rationalized your oatmeal post. :) I am trying to get my recipe done and posted today. (Only have 14 hours left.) If I wasn't planning on whipping up a Reichl recipe for breakfast today, I would sooooo try the toasted oatmeal method!

  3. My mom was a map lover too. She even worked for Thomas Brothers Maps. I love oatmeal and have never toasted it before. Sounds like a good recipe.

  4. Wow another fabulous National Geo book. I love maps!

  5. I have just enough oats left to make this toasted oatmeal. I can imagine a bowl full right now, all cozy and warm on the couch with the dog and a warm belly!

  6. Hellooooo Deb! It's me, Jinjer from Litsy! This oatmeal sounded so good I had to try it! I bought steel cut oats and followed the directions on the box for one serving, using milk instead of water. I was a bit scared of boiling milk because I didn't think we're supposed to let milk come to the boil, but it worked. I toasted the oats in butter as instructed and used brown sugar. Absolutely delicious!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us. Definitely making it again.


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