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Thread: Map / Mapping / Worldbuilding Book List

  1. #1

    Default Map / Mapping / Worldbuilding Book List

    Hey Everyone
    Id really love to build up a collection of great books on geography, cartography, and worldbuilding. Here is my wish list and I'd love to have you add to it! (Ill update this post as I get replies?)

    Map Collections/Compilations:
    Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs
    The Map Book by Peter Barber
    The Map as Art by Katharine Harmon

    Cartography: Thematic Map Design by Dent
    Elements of Cartography by Robinson
    To the ends of the Earth by Jeremy Harwood
    An Atlas of Radical Cartography
    Geography of the World
    The Art of the Map by Dennis Reinhartz
    The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Mother Nature by Katharina Gerlach
    The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World by Caroline Arnold

    Plan Graphics for the Landscape Designer by Bertauski
    Drawing the Landscape by Chip Sullivan
    Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps by Chet Duzer
    Cartographer's Toolkit: Colors, Typography, Patterns by Peterson

    Worldbuilding (for books that look beyond the map and at the lore, language, and deeeper velopment process
    Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings by Stefan Ekman
    The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth by Brian Sibley
    Any of the Final Fantasy and Studio Ghibli artbooks (show character development, selected world development, etc)
    Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding by Wolfgang Baur
    Holly Lisle's Create A Culture Clinic by Holly Lisle
    The Gazetteer Writer's Manual: Creating Travel Guides to Fictional Worlds by Deborah Christian
    Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users by Cynthia Brewer

    Cities & Architecture
    Good City Form by Kevin Lynch

    More General Mapping (including theory, social mapping, etc):
    How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier
    Maps of the Imagination : The Writer as Cartographyer by Peter Turchi
    You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon
    Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes by Yanko Tsvetkov
    Cartographies of Time by Daniel Rosenberg

    Online Resources
    Creating an Earth-like Planet:
    Geoffs Climate Cookbook:
    A world building Checklist:
    Last edited by Cmpkittykat; 05-29-2014 at 10:46 AM.

  2. #2


    Omg!! I've been trying for ages to find good worthwhile books for world building!! Thanks so much for posting this!

    To help add to your list I have a couple of books I am currently reading. Here's the list hope you find them useful:

    The writer's complete Fantasy reference, introduction by Terry Brooks
    Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Frances Gies
    Life in a medieval Castle also by Joseph and Frances Gies

    Also, if you want to design languages:
    Advanced Language Construction by Mark Rosenfelder
    Last edited by xLegionx; 05-31-2014 at 07:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Guild Novice Mb.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014


    Just the other day I was thinking about starting this list. Thanks! Liked & repped.

    A couple books I'd add:

    A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction
    by Christopher Alexander (not strictly mapping related, but some amazing thoughts on architecture and urban design)

    Mapping the Medieval City: Space, Place and Identity in Chester
    by Catherine A. M. Clarke (haven't read it yet, but it's on my wish list)

    Mapping the World
    von: Beau Riffenburgh

    The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones
    by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia, Linda Antonsson (out in October 2014, looks like it'll be packed with gorgeous maps)

  4. #4


    Hmm I tried ordering a copy of Holly Lisie's creating a culture book but apparently its only available on ebook. This might be a dumb question but can you download ebooks onto your computer?

    Or if anyone has any other recommendations on "creating a culture" books I'd be happy to hear them.

  5. #5
    Guild Journeyer Raptori's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014


    I'll come out of lurker mode to add two books, which have been discussed a little elsewhere on here. They're both great at explaining complex societies, and so would probably help a lot when coming up with realistic cultures. Both are by Jared Diamond, and their overviews from wikipedia are:

    Guns, Germs and Steel
    The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases), he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures, and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.

    Collapse reviews the causes of historical and pre-historical incidences of societal collapse - particularly those involving significant influences from environmental changes, the effects of climate change, hostile neighbors, and trade partners - and considers the responses different societies have had to such threats. While the bulk of the book is concerned with the demise of these historical civilizations, Diamond also argues that humanity collectively faces, on a much larger scale, many of the same issues, with possibly catastrophic near-future consequences to many of the world's populations.

  6. #6
    Guild Artisan Guild Supporter
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    Meshon's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


    I'd like to put in a plug for TSR's World Builder's Guidebook which I picked up back in the 90s. It looks like you can still get used copies pretty reasonably (I saw them on and amazon), and it is a really great step-by-step guide for building worlds. It's targeted at D&D but has a lot of great advice. Its layout is designed so that you can pretty much start anywhere and develop your world to a playable state. Granted there might be some better stuff out there that is more recent, but I've found the steps and clarity of this book a great place to start a lot of projects. It even uses hexes!


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