The Atlas of Remote Islands (Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will), written by Judith Schalansky, translated from German by Christine Lo (this is the original German edition) and published last October by Penguin, is a wonder of a book.
As you can read in the synopsis: "Judith Schalansky was born in 1980 on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. The Soviets wouldn't let anyone travel so everything she learnt about the world came from her parents' battered old atlas. An acclaimed novelist and award-winning graphic designer, she has spent years creating this, her own imaginative atlas of the world's loneliest places. These islands are so difficult to reach that until the late 1990s more people had set foot on the moon than on Peter I Island in the Antarctic.
On one page are perfect maps, on the other unfold bizarre stories from the history of the islands themselves. Rare animals and strange people abound: from marooned slaves to lonely scientists, lost explorers to confused lighthouse keepers, mutinous sailors to forgotten castaways; a collection of Robinson Crusoes of all kinds. Recently awarded the prize of Germany's most beautiful book, the ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS is a intricately designed masterpiece that maplovers everywhere will love. Judith Schalansky lures us across all the oceans of the world to fifty remote islands - from St Kilda to Easter Island and from Tristan da Cunha to Disappointment Island - and proves that some of the most memorable journeys can be taken by armchair travellers."
The maps are beautiful and the stories are haunting and memorable, and I found myself dreaming over each of these pages that describe small worlds lost in the middle of the ocean.
The book enjoyed a great success as a little rare gem, and the blog GoNomad even found a guy ("The Most Traveled Man in the World") who's been to most of these islands. But I'd rather sit down in my armchair and dream.