100 books like Mr. Beck's Underground Map

By Ken Garland,

Here are 100 books that Mr. Beck's Underground Map fans have personally recommended if you like Mr. Beck's Underground Map. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story

Mark Ovenden Author Of Underground Cities: Mapping the tunnels, transits and networks underneath our feet

From my list on subways and urban trains.

Who am I?

Mark Ovenden is a broadcaster, lecturer and author who specialises in the design of public transport. His books include ’Transit Maps of The World’ - an Amazon Top 100 best-seller - and a dozen others covering cartography, architecture, typography, way finding and history of urban transit systems, airline routes and railway maps. He has spoken on these subjects across the World and is a regular on the UK's Arts Society lecture circuit. His television and radio programmes for the BBC have helped to explain the joys of good design and urban architecture. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and after many years living in cities like London, Paris, New York and Manchester…now enjoys a more rural life on the Isle of Wight.

Mark's book list on subways and urban trains

Mark Ovenden Why did Mark love this book?

Here is an example of a work that leaves no stone unturned, and does the job properly. There is an excellent introduction on the historical signage of the Subway, a proper explanation of why a new wayfinding system was necessary, the most comprehensive history on why Unimark was chosen to improve the signage and all the images you need of how their 1970 'Graphics Standards Manual' was implemented. Shaw rightly explains the move from the Standard Medium typeface to Helvetica and why it superseded Standard Medium and the fate of the original Unimark system.

By Paul Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helvetica and the New York City Subway System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How New York City subways signage evolved from a “visual mess” to a uniform system with Helvetica triumphant.

For years, the signs in the New York City subway system were a bewildering hodge-podge of lettering styles, sizes, shapes, materials, colors, and messages. The original mosaics (dating from as early as 1904), displaying a variety of serif and sans serif letters and decorative elements, were supplemented by signs in terracotta and cut stone. Over the years, enamel signs identifying stations and warning riders not to spit, smoke, or cross the tracks were added to the mix. Efforts to untangle this visual…


Book cover of The story of the Paris Metro: from 1900 to the current day

Mark Ovenden Author Of Underground Cities: Mapping the tunnels, transits and networks underneath our feet

From my list on subways and urban trains.

Who am I?

Mark Ovenden is a broadcaster, lecturer and author who specialises in the design of public transport. His books include ’Transit Maps of The World’ - an Amazon Top 100 best-seller - and a dozen others covering cartography, architecture, typography, way finding and history of urban transit systems, airline routes and railway maps. He has spoken on these subjects across the World and is a regular on the UK's Arts Society lecture circuit. His television and radio programmes for the BBC have helped to explain the joys of good design and urban architecture. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and after many years living in cities like London, Paris, New York and Manchester…now enjoys a more rural life on the Isle of Wight.

Mark's book list on subways and urban trains

Mark Ovenden Why did Mark love this book?

The most detailed of all English books on the history of the Paris Metro and arguably the most informative on engineering, construction, signalling and rolling stock. With a level of detail bordering on the obsessive, Lamming probes the very heart of what makes this most impressive of World metro systems tick. The difficulties of building the first lines through the honeycombed quarries below Paris, and the first tunnels under the Seine are articulated in immense detail. With hundreds of engineers illustrations and archive photos there is little to compare this book with in the English language.

By Clive Lamming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The story of the Paris Metro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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Book cover of The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever

Mark Ovenden Author Of Underground Cities: Mapping the tunnels, transits and networks underneath our feet

From my list on subways and urban trains.

Who am I?

Mark Ovenden is a broadcaster, lecturer and author who specialises in the design of public transport. His books include ’Transit Maps of The World’ - an Amazon Top 100 best-seller - and a dozen others covering cartography, architecture, typography, way finding and history of urban transit systems, airline routes and railway maps. He has spoken on these subjects across the World and is a regular on the UK's Arts Society lecture circuit. His television and radio programmes for the BBC have helped to explain the joys of good design and urban architecture. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and after many years living in cities like London, Paris, New York and Manchester…now enjoys a more rural life on the Isle of Wight.

Mark's book list on subways and urban trains

Mark Ovenden Why did Mark love this book?

With a razor sharp eye Wolmar (author of many other excellent books on railway history) concentrates his focus on the machinations of the establishment of the world's first railway built under the ground. Overcoming the travails of unbuilt fantasy concepts, the Victorians fear of the dark, finances and the problems of running steam trains in tunnels, London's City Solicitor Charles Pearson, managed to get the first route, the Metropolitan Railway, built and opened by January 1863. Wolmar unpicks the struggles to expand the line, private capitals, a rush to build more lines and the eventual nationalisation of the system in 1948.

By Christian Wolmar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Subterranean Railway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revised and updated edition of Christian Wolmar's classic history of the London Underground, with a new chapter on Crossrail.

'I can think of few better ways to while away those elastic periods awaiting the arrival of the next eastbound Circle Line train than by reading [this book].' Tom Fort, Sunday Telegraph

Since the Victorian era, London's Underground has played a vital role in the daily life of generations of Londoners. In The Subterranean Railway, Christian Wolmar celebrates the vision and determination of the nineteenth-century pioneers who made the world's first, and still the largest, underground passenger railway: one of the…


Book cover of Das Berliner U- und S-Bahnnetz: Eine Geschichte in Streckenplänen von 1888 bis heute

Mark Ovenden Author Of Underground Cities: Mapping the tunnels, transits and networks underneath our feet

From my list on subways and urban trains.

Who am I?

Mark Ovenden is a broadcaster, lecturer and author who specialises in the design of public transport. His books include ’Transit Maps of The World’ - an Amazon Top 100 best-seller - and a dozen others covering cartography, architecture, typography, way finding and history of urban transit systems, airline routes and railway maps. He has spoken on these subjects across the World and is a regular on the UK's Arts Society lecture circuit. His television and radio programmes for the BBC have helped to explain the joys of good design and urban architecture. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and after many years living in cities like London, Paris, New York and Manchester…now enjoys a more rural life on the Isle of Wight.

Mark's book list on subways and urban trains

Mark Ovenden Why did Mark love this book?

Don’t worry if you are not fluent in German: this book is packed with images and if you want to understand the way the Berlin U-Bahn system expanded - it is required reading. Gottwaldt was the first person to collect and publish historic maps of the system and reproduction of the maps is exceptional. Starting in 1888 - before the present U-Bahn was conceived - his selection of cartographic delights includes the city’s earliest urban rail lines. The 1896 plan of the ’Nord-Ring’ and ’Sud-Ring’ foretells how the pattern of Berlins current S-Bahn and his example of a 1922 track map exhibits just how extensive railway land was in Europes biggest cities. My favourites are the 1934 and 1936 diagrams which echo the work of Beck in London. If mass transit interests you: find this book!

Book cover of Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library

Jeremy Black Author Of Maps and History: Constructing Images of the Past

From my list on for people who love maps.

Who am I?

I am a historian fascinated with maps and geography, I have produced historical atlases on the world, Britain, war, cities, naval history, fortifications, and World War Two, as well as books on geopolitics and maps. I am an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Exeter and a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and of Policy Exchange.

Jeremy's book list on for people who love maps

Jeremy Black Why did Jeremy love this book?

Wide-ranging, high-production values, a good balance of maps and text, and excellent value for money. Includes many different types of map not least those of fantasy worlds.

By Tom Harper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atlas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The British Library's map collection is the national cartographic collection of Britain and numbers around four million maps dating from 15 CE to 2017 CE. These include road maps drawn for 13th century pilgrims and sea charts for 17th-century pirates. They include the first printed map to show the Americas and the last to show English-controlled Calais. They include the world's biggest and smallest atlases. They include maps for kings and queens, popes, ministers, schoolchildren, soldiers, tourists. There are maps which changed the world. As well as comprehensively showcasing the varied and surprising treasures of the British Library's "banquet of…


Book cover of Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography

Kevin Cornell Author Of New in Town

From my list on world-building.

Who am I?

I believe stories to be our species’ instinctual tool for discovering our best selves. Sometimes those stories are about real people in the past, sometimes they’re completely imagined people in the future — sometimes we even swap out the humans for animals or aliens, or sassy anthropomorphized objects. Whatever the case, for a story to work its wonders, its details must be believable, or we reject its premise. These books help make a story believable, and, if you get the alchemy just right, those details can even help tell the story themselves.

Kevin's book list on world-building

Kevin Cornell Why did Kevin love this book?

You get a lot of insight into a culture from the maps they create. Not only how they view themselves, but how they view others around them. There have been times in history when cultures weren’t even concerned with their maps being geographically accurate— they were a tool for teaching religion, or indulging a yearning for the fantastic. This book gives an excellent overview as to the many ways humans have used, and designed, maps throughout the centuries.

By Ralph E. Ehrenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mapping the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mapping the World is a one-of-a-kind collection of cartographic treasures that spans thousands of years and many cultures, from an ancient Babylonian map of the world etched on clay to the latest high-tech maps of the earth, seas, and the skies above. With more than one hundred maps and other illustrations and an introduction and running commentary by Ralph E. Ehrenberg, this book tells a fascinating story of geographic discovery, scientific invention, and the art and technique of mapmaking.

Mapping the World is organized chronologically with a brief introduction that places the maps in their historical context. Special "portfolios" within…


Book cover of The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

You won’t be curling up in bed with this two-volume, 2,272-page encyclopedic history of cartography in the European Renaissance—but if you’ve got a passion for maps, or if you want the most comprehensive source of information on the cartography of the period, it’s a delightful and even essential work to consult. The essays are diverse and deeply informative, and the reproductions, including 80 gorgeous color plates, are a treat to spend time with.

By David Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The History of Cartography, Volume 3 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the University of Chicago Press launched the land-mark "History of Cartography" series nearly thirty years ago, founding editors J. B. Harley and David Woodward hoped to create a new basis for map history. They did not, however, anticipate the larger renaissance in map studies that the series would inspire. But as the renown of the series and the comprehensiveness and acuity of the present two-part volume demonstrate, the history of cartography has proven to be unexpectedly fertile ground. "Cartography in the European Renaissance" treats the period from 1450 to 1650, long considered the most important in the history of…


Book cover of How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design

Danyel Fisher Author Of Making Data Visual: A Practical Guide to Using Visualization for Insight

From my list on to inspire you to think differently about data.

Who am I?

In sixth grade, my teacher tried to teach the class how to read line charts – and something fell into place for me. Ever since then, I’ve tried to sort data into forms that we can use to make sense of it. As a researcher at Microsoft, I consulted with teams across the organization – from sales to legal; and from Excel to XBox – to help them understand their data. At Honeycomb, I design tools for software operations teams to diagnose their complex systems. These books each gave me an “ah-hah” moment that made me think differently about the craft of creating visualization. They now sit on my shelf in easy reach – I hope you find them fascinating too.

Danyel's book list on to inspire you to think differently about data

Danyel Fisher Why did Danyel love this book?

Maps and data visualization live in my mind as close cousins: geographical coordinates are often the best way to show where data happens, and the techniques that cartographers have worked out can be adapted to the ways I represent visuals. Maps also have some interpretive advantages over abstract data: San Francisco is always west of Washington, DC. That’s not as true of information graphs, where their respective data points might move around depending on what is being plotted and what the axes are.

By Alan M. MacEachren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Maps Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available in paperback for the first time, this classic work presents a cognitive-semiotic framework for understanding how maps work as powerful, abstract, and synthetic spatial representations. Explored are the ways in which the many representational choices inherent in mapping interact with information processing and knowledge construction, and how the resulting insights can be used to make informed symbolization and design decisions. A new preface to the paperback edition situates the book within the context of contemporary technologies. As the nature of maps continues to evolve, Alan MacEachren emphasizes the ongoing need to think systematically about the ways people interact…


Book cover of Treasures from the Map Room: A Journey through the Bodleian Collections

Matt Duckham Author Of GIS: A Computing Perspective

From my list on maps and mapmaking.

Who am I?

I’ve been surrounded by maps all my life. As a child, a highlight of family summer holidays was the night before, pouring over road maps, planning every step of our drive from my home in rural English midlands, via the cross-channel ferry, to a rented gîte in France, perhaps in the Dordogne or the Loire Valley. Maps are to me a paragon of design: a true marriage of science and art. In an amazingly compressed space, a well-designed map can be incredibly beautiful at the same time as containing an incredible amount of raw data, more than could be contained in reams of tables or many pages of text. 

Matt's book list on maps and mapmaking

Matt Duckham Why did Matt love this book?

Maps are powerful, useful, functional objects. But mapmaking is also an art, with a long history and tradition of design. That indelible connection between the map room and the art gallery is what I enjoy most in this book.

Each map in this selection from the Bodleian Library at Oxford University is accompanied by a thoughtful reflection on the story behind the map and its impact. But it is the maps themselves, reproduced in rich color on high-density, fine-art-book quality paper, that are the main attractions here. I can, and have, spent many hours lost in an exploration of the flourishes, nooks, and curiosities of an individual map.

Immersing myself in an artful map from this book is to be transported to another time and place that is simultaneously endlessly strange and yet comfortingly familiar.  

By Debbie Hall (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Treasures from the Map Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book explores the stories behind seventy-five extraordinary maps. It includes unique treasures such as the fourteenth-century Gough Map of Great Britain, exquisite portolan charts made in the fifteenth century, the Selden Map of China - the earliest example of Chinese merchant cartography - and an early world map from the medieval Islamic Book of Curiosities, together with more recent examples of fictional places drawn in the twentieth century, such as C.S. Lewis's own map of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien's map of Middle Earth.

As well as the works of famous mapmakers Mercator, Ortelius, Blaeu, Saxton and Speed, the book…


Book cover of The Story of Maps

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

You can certainly find more recent surveys of the history of cartography, but this accessible work, first published in 1949, still stands out as an engaging and enlightening survey of the territory. Lloyd Brown begins his story some 2000 years ago, in Alexandria, Egypt, with the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose geographical ideas came together in the work of Claudius Ptolemy, and he then goes on, in an enjoyable narrative style, to show how scholars and monks and merchants and sailors and scientists all contributed to the art of mapmaking. The first half of the book provides an excellent summary of the kinds of maps that thinkers and travelers would have been familiar with by the time the Age of Discovery got underway.

By Lloyd A. Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of Maps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An important and scholarly work; bringing together much information available heretofore only in scattered sources … easily readable." — Gerald I. Alexander, F.R.G.S. Cartographer, Map Division, New York Public Library
Early map making was characterized by secrecy. Maps were precious documents, drawn by astrologers and travelers, worn out through use or purposely destroyed. Just as men first mapped the earth indirectly, via the sun and stars, so must the history of maps be approached circuitously, through chronicles, astronomy, Strabo and Ptolemy, seamanship, commerce, politics. From the first determination of latitude 2000 years ago through the dramatic unraveling of longitude 1700…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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