During the cold of a Michigan winter it is quite tempting to close your eyes and daydream about imaginary, remote and far away places. There is a magical quality to this exercise. I might not have the ability to hop on a plane right now to fly halfway across the world to discover an unknown country but I can get closer to this experience by reading through Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will, by Judith Schalansky; translated from German by Christine Lo.
This beautiful atlas showcases fifty islands across the world that have the status of being isolated and remote, each with a unique history that is detailed by Schalansky. These are not islands that show up in cheerful travel guides or boast four-star excursions you will venture on with family. These are islands that will appeal to anyone who has a romantic side, or who wants to venture off the beaten path alone.
The inside pages of the atlas appear like this:
Photo: Banaba, an island featured in Atlas of Remote Islands, page 94
Banaba is located in the Pacific Ocean and was discovered in 1804 by Abraham Bristow. Chilling details include, “The Banabans do not bury their dead. They let the bodies hang from their huts until the flesh has decomposed, then they wash the skeleton in the sea.” Other islands in the atlas contain far happier histories- such as the island Robinson Crusoe, located off the coast of Chile, which is the setting for Alexander Selkirk’s Robinson Crusoe adventure, a classic children’s tale that warms the heart of many.
Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will is available at Hatcher Graduate Library.