Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer” as Want to Read:
Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  809 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Maps of the Imagination takes us on a magic carpet ride over terrain both familiar and exotic. Using the map as a metaphor, fiction writer Peter Turchi considers writing as a combination of exploration and presentation, all the while serving as an erudite and charming guide. He compares the way a writer leads a reader though the imaginary world of a story, novel, or poem ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 21st 2004 by Trinity University Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Maps of the Imagination, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Maps of the Imagination

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  809 ratings  ·  107 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kris by: Mmars
This is one of the most imaginative books on writing that I have read. Readers who look for very clear, concise prompts and descriptions of the writing process will likely be frustrated by Turchi's approach. However, if you are adventurous and willing to follow where Turchi leads, you will have new inspiration and ideas about how to write and read fiction.

Turchi's innovation is his drawing parallels between cartography and writing. He provides scores of full-color reproductions of many kinds of
Emma Sea
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: paperback, i-own-it
liked the first half a lot, not so much the second.2.5 stars overall
I was super enjoying this book until I hit page 132 and this:

" . . . eavesdrop on the conversation taking place beside us, via cellphone, between the woman we see and someone distant . . . with whom she was vulgarly, spectacularly angry."

And that's the thing, isn't it? For a woman to be angry, and to express it, is vulgar. It's right up there with "a lady should never be surprised." We should be in control of our emotions
May 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
this book is great when read in tandem with katherine harmon's book you are here: maps of the imagination. (i've bought five or more copies of that book as gifts; everyone should have a copy.) both are full of delightful, beautifully reproduced maps of fancy--created about imaginary places or places reimagined. a wonderful way of thinking about creating place in fiction, but also of the psychogeographical implications of the places we travel through in our imaginations and in our every day ...more
Joshua Buhs
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A little more than halfway through "Maps of the Imagination," Turchi brings up Christopher Nolan's "Memento," calling it "clever" which is a mark of most of Nolan's films. But unlike "Inception," which was clever to no real point, "Memento" makes us consider our reliance upon memory, friendships, and the fragility of our sense of reality. Turchi's own book veers between these two poles, sometimes clever but not for discernible reasons, other times clever, compelling, and worth pondering.

Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was one of the most enjoyable non-fiction reads I have read in a long time. If you a writer or someone who simply enjoys creativity and pushing the limits of convention in writing, this book is for you. Turchi extends the metaphor of the map and constructs a world for the reader to navigate. It is filled with wonderful illustrations and the author allows the reader to make many of the connections on their own. This book stimulates creativity. Turchi is a writer who knows how to teach ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Countless times in my life, upon finishing a book, I've been amazed by the ingenious mind behind a work. Usually I'm more than a bit baffled, often entirely clueless to that author's thought process. I loved this work by Peter Turchi. For me, it was like a piece of a puzzle. For example, paralleling what is left out of maps to what a writer chooses to reveal in their writing and why it was effective for that work not to include too much information. I appreciated that he discussed many kinds of ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a refreshing, imaginative book about writing and craft. So many craft books out there feel obvious or repetitive to me, so I really enjoyed Turchi's spin on things. The chapter "Rigorous Geometries" is extremely don't find many craft books that attempt to merge the mathematical and the literary, and in this section Turchi's spatial approach to plot is particularly wonderful.

At times, Turchi struggles to connect certain the tropes of cartography to writing, but it hardly
Paula Koneazny
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Turchi is most interesting when writing about mapping and less so when writing about writing, but then, that's probably just because I've heard/read so many writers talk/write about writing that not much sounds new on that topic. That's the writer in me resisting the workshop, I guess. I did, however, much appreciate Turchi's discussion/ investigation of maps' blank spaces, distortion formulas, and "conventions of illusion." As I am currently intrigued by all things cartographic, I enjoyed the ...more
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
so unbelievably mindblowing. highly recommend to anyone who thinks about geometry, space or mapping and also likes books, art, music... etc. very very well done. great visuals from fractals to subway maps to dante's inferno.
Wendy Wakeman
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Turchi's smart talk about how stories work pushed me to think deeper. Very inspiring.
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-non-fiction
What an expansive, lyrical, beautifully written juxtaposition of writing and cartography. A truly special book.

This was recommended to me by a friend, who not only shares my profession - that of business writer - but is also a cartography afficianado. It is most certainly not a book I would have been likely to discover on my own, and so I am grateful to have received the suggestion. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful writing and explorations - ha! cartography, exploration, get it?
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those that screams, "WHY DIDN'T I MAKE THIS CONNECTION!?!"

Turchi's metaphor for writing and the writing process is so simple and elegant that it really does beg the question as to why no one else has written such a thing before. Still, I suppose that's what often makes the best writing so compelling: the simplicity of its beauty and presentation.

Truly, I loved the content. Admittedly, I only recently have read many of Turchi's examples and outside materials, which helped me feel
Tiffany Conner
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who dig Lit Crit. There are some, right?
At times I found myself wondering where exactly the author was hoping to go with some of his musings, but ultimately I resigned myself to immersing myself in the language. Mr. Turichi is a wonderful writer. He is insightful and makes useful, constant use of the cartographic analogy with reference to the writing life. Even so, I don't know that this is a god book for aspiring authors so much as it is a critical literary investigation. I wrote done many a fine phrase in my reader-response journal. ...more
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Okay, I’ll be honest. I judged this book by its cover. I was wondering through the shelves at B&N trying to pick up some good books about writing when I spotted this gorgeous book. The metaphor of the brain as a map with specific sections for “reflectives” and “morality” and “acquisitiveness” was beautiful, the colors were rich, and I was instantly smitten. It was also saran-wrapped, so I thought “wow, this book must be special”….and for the most part, it was. His comparisons between writing ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to writers, not as a resource from which to learn more about craft but to look at familiar aspects of craft in a new way. Turchi argument discusses the act of writing as discovery, with historical parallels to humanity's desire to understand and comprehend the world through mapmaking.

The craft aspects it discusses are largely concerned with story structure. Turchi uses mostly realist examples to illustrate his points (though there are relevant points for genre writers as well.). For
Melissa Perry
I have never read anything like this before. I doubt I will ever read anything quite like it again. To put it bluntly, this book has completely changed the way I think about writing. An elegant and thought-provoking take on the philosophy of the writing process that discusses everything from structure, to blank spaces, to the blind shuffling we do before we carve some kind of path through the wilderness of the imagination. Turchi argues that maps, like books, reveal and conceal particular ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language-writing
This is a beautiful book for writers and non-writers alike. I mean really I feel like anyone with a pulse would benefit from it. Turchi examines the conventions that map-makers have used over time and how those conventions relate to writing fiction, and the result is a really unique way of looking at storytelling as a whole.

Here are a few excerpts that sum up what I mean:

"The conflict is, ultimately, between unruly nature and civilization's desire for order, utility, and meaning-making. Do we
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some other reviewer kicked off their evaluation of this book with something along the lines of "a writer writing about writing - I was prepared for this to be masturbatory but honestly!" Well, I suppose they had a point...

The spatial metaphor is very pervasive in human thinking: where did we go wrong? Can we find out along the way? What is at the centre of this? Where did that idea come from? Of course much of our physical surroundings is located and codified on maps these days, but still we
Franco Alvarado
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
As someone who loves maps and writing, I was surprised to find something that intersected the two topics so well. I've been working on revising my novel, and it helped to see the writing process in another perspective. To be honest though, I did skim the last few chapters because the metaphor was wearing thin and didn't do much to add to the central thesis. Eventually it became less about writing.

I think the author lost me somewhere past 100 pages where he jabs at video games as a medium for
Daniel B-G
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
A decent metaphor pushed to the cusp of disintegration. Of central issue with the book, the theme is an organising principle to gather together an array of thoughts about writing, and not a coherent thesis that develops a conclusion. That isn't to say some of the insights contained within are not fascinating, many are, but the book lacks that interconnectedness and coherence that make the information easy to absorb. Information is not structured in a way that makes it accessible, which is a ...more
Tom Britz
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was reading this book for a class on writing. I found myself disagreeing with Mr. Turchi and having my eyes glaze over the majority of the time. Not only did I not finish the book, I dropped the class. Turchi gives the majority of his time dwelling on the minutia of map making and its history, some of which was opinion and not fact. The bottom line is this book did not give me any new insights on the writing practice. It did, however induce some nice naps!
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of the ideas and metaphors between creativity and mapping are not quite as unique as the book seems to think they are. Also at times the language is more dense than it needs to be. (After all, a map of this sort should be accessible to all.)

Nevertheless, and intriguing concept, and a motivating read in many ways. Plus some fun cartography history on the side. I'd recommend it for creative types.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many, many small but very intriguing maps. Lots of quotes from my favorite authors and some who may become favorites. Several reviewers seem to think a spacial analogy is a new thing for writing. I recently finished Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought by Barbara Tversky. She holds that the origin of language itself is in movement and that maps precede written language. I enjoyed Turchi very much but don't find the basic concept very new.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting perspective on writing and how to craft a story. I really enjoyed the maps and geometry in the book. It gave me a lot of creative ideas and thoughts on how to write or start a new project or story.
Zeynep Şen
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Gets a bit repetitive sometimes, if I'm being honest. But still a very intelligent read with a unique, original approach to literature
Leslie Ann
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-related
A pleasant and thoughtful read on the similarities between the processes of writing and mapmaking.
Hans Otterson
These are the books on writing I've read:

-On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
-Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
-The Writing Life
-The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
-The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear
-The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
-MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction

I'm not inclined, generally, to think of things in terms of superlatives, but Maps of the Imagination is the most intriguing, and possibly
Mary Anne
I'll start by saying I am not in the target audience for this book, and target audience is key for a book like this. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, because I found myself highlighting quite a few passages in the book. And while I think the target audience for this book is fiction writers, there are certain elements of the book that I think other audience members can (and should) appreciate.

I received this book from my course coordinator (I teach an upper-division writing course
Turchi has written an extended metaphor about writing, he says. I say it is more a metaphor that applies to literary criticism.

It is his conceit that authors consciously construct maps (synonymous with outlines, time lines, floor plans, frameworks) to hang their stories. Then he weasels his way out of that saying it need not be conscious or predate the writing, but only become visible upon completion.

I have no quarrel with the metaphor. Chapter 1 is quite a lovely exposition of this idea in
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature
The book is an easy read script wonderfully published, i bought it for its name and idea, and started reading it because of its design ...
It is good for first year literature class maybe, but not as critical thinking stimulator on literature..
I read, I understand —nothing much to that..

Note on page 23 the map of the nile delta by piri reis is flipped horizontally..
And the maps in the first pages are of no sufficient relevance thus reduced the thinking value

I see it as a book to meditate not to
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands
  • Lost Hills (Eve Ronin #1)
  • The Lost Colony (The Long Winter Trilogy, #3)
  • Maps
  • Hard Damage
  • Erosion: Essays of Undoing
  • Hot Comb
  • Love and I: Poems
  • All Its Charms
  • The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice
  • Terrible Blooms
  • Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History
  • Two Weeks in November: The astonishing untold story of the operation that toppled Mugabe
  • Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline
  • A History of Future Cities
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity
  • The Solar War (The Long Winter Trilogy #2)
See similar books…
“To ask for a map is to say, “Tell me a story.” 0 likes
“The purpose of a story or poem, unlike that of a diary, is not to record our experience but to create a context for, and to lead the reader on, a journey.” 0 likes
More quotes…