Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Eight essential books for geographers

  • Written by  Geographical
  • Published in Books
Eight essential books for geographers
11 Dec
A list of books that everyone interested in geography should have on their shelves

e5979f6514c1887179033c613e3a4b50 XL

PRISONERS OF GEOGRAPHY: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall

Author, journalist and Geographical columnist Tim Marshall demonstrates the importance of geography in shaping and defining global politics – a reminder that despite being the ‘the most overlooked’ factor in world affairs analysis, geography is always there, often forcing the hand of world leaders. 

Click here for the full review

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop

7243c908e4e38dba962bd8a04c957a8f XL

UNDERLAND by Robert Macfarlane

An epic exploration of the world beneath our feet. Underland cuts paths through science, geography, anthropology, poetry, myth and experience. The reader is pulled underneath Paris, Arctic ice, forest floors; into deep caves and underground rivers; ancient funeral chambers; even to underground research stations that look into space. Macfarlane narrates his adventures with lyrical style and an ever-present sense of awe of wonder. 

Click here for the full review

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop


Guns, Germs and Steel: 20th Anniversary Edition

Another book that reminds us of the importance of geography to all human endeavour. First published in 1997, Guns, Germs & Steel demonstrates the way in which geographical realties (from agricultural conditions and available plant species to the presence of certain rocks and metals) determined how civilisations grew and prospered (or not). We are all born with similar abilities, but our geographical luckiness steers the course of our lives. 

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop

ad61525aecd36a287baccdab08b1c19f XL

RIVERS OF POWER: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World by Laurence C. Smith

An epic account of rivers and our relationship with them. For rivers, it turns out, are the lifeblood of cities, the stage for countless skirmishes, and at times, a terribly destructive force. No region or epoch is left out. Laurence – a professor of environmental studies at Brown University – sweeps the globe to demonstrate the power of these life-giving bodies of water.

Click here for the full review

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop

The Geographical Bookshop has been set up with BookShop UK, a new online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. Geographical will receive 10% from anything purchased using the links here. A matching 10% goes to BookShop UK’s pool of independent bookshops. By design, BookShop UK gives away over 75% of its profit margin to stores, publications, authors and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books.


Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet we Made

Science journalist and author Gaia Vince quits her job at the journal Nature and travels the world, documenting the immense impact of humans on the landscape. A balanced account of man’s ingenuity and brilliance coupled with our destructive capabilities, Vince demands that we take a proper look at the world around us. 

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop


THE BOUNDLESS SEA: A Human History of the Oceans by David Abulafia

A huge work, running at more than 1,000 pages, The Boundless Sea tells the story of the oceans from a human perspective. Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2020, the book is packed with marvellous stories and adventures, charting our very first forays into the water in tiny canoes, moving onto the great voyages across unknown expanses of ocean, and turning to the routes now taken daily by supertankers in their thousands. A comprehensive and highly entertaining account. 

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop


H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

A moving and evocative classic of nature-writing. In mourning for her father, Helen MacDonald recounts her attempt to find solace by learning to train a goshawk called Mabel. 

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop


How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier

A classic in the world of mapping books, How to Lie With Maps was first published in 1991. Mark Monmonier reveals the ways in which maps tell only one side of any story, reflecting the views and biases of their makers. Updated for the digtial age in this new edition, the book now examines the myriad ways that technology offers new opportunities for cartographic mischief, deception, and propaganda.

Click here to buy at the Geographical bookshop

Subscribe to Geographical today for just £38 a year. Our monthly print magazine is packed full of cutting-edge stories and stunning photography, perfect for anyone fascinated by the world, its landscapes, people and cultures. From climate change and the environment, to scientific developments and global health, we cover a huge range of topics that span the globe. Plus, every issue includes book recommendations, infographics, maps and more!

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


By Amy Liptrot • Cannongate


Edited by Andrew Blauner • Princeton University Press


By Darren Chetty, Grug Muse, Hanan Issa and Lestyn Tyne…


Charting the full history of the Caucasus, with Christoph Baumer