Follow in the footsteps of your favorite characters

Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM

I've heard many people describe reading as an experience that "transports" them to "another place." This strikes me as true. When I'm lost in a book (so to speak), it's easy to forget what's going on around me. It somehow makes sense that so many great books have journeys in them, from Homer's Odyssey to Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity.

Since we've just launched the apropos Google Book Search layer in Google Earth, it seems the perfect time to tell you about sites that feature other kinds of interesting book/map mashups.

Google Lit Trips is a site that teacher Jerome Burg created to help his students explore literature in a new way. The site lets you download custom maps for Google Earth that trace the route of famous literary journeys like the ones in the Odyssey and Candide. You'll also find fun maps for literary works without ocean- or globe-trotting characters, like Macbeth.

Fans of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series (of which Master and Commander is the most well-known representative) might want to check out The Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project. This site plots out the Aubrey and Maturin journeys using Google Maps -- fascinating even if you don't know the books, especially if you're a history buff.

If you have a minute, give these book-exploration tools a try -- you can relive the journeys in your favorite books and experience others from a brand new perspective.


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