Pick of the Picture Books: The Book of Islands, by Philip Dodd and Ben Donald

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The Independent Culture

The celebration of "islomania" behind this book is nothing to do with being a helpful travel guide; nor can its remit be scientifically defined. "We went by instinct in the end," write its authors, as they struggle to define what gives a place its "islandness". And fine instincts they were, too. The Book of Islands, by Philip Dodd and Ben Donald (Palazzo Editions, £30), has winnowed the selection down to 200 of the world's most islandy examples, starting at the International Date Line with Tonga and the Chatham Islands, the first places to greet each new day, and tracking the sun west towards Samoa.

Thus we have Baffin in Canada (bigger than Germany) compared, probably for the first time, to the Lake Palace in Udaipur. Islands closer to home – the Aran Islands and the Isle of Wight – find they have much in common with Bora Bora (right), Ibiza, Robben Island and Bikini. The authors even suggest an islomaniac cocktail, which might be more appealing to visit than to drink: Curaçao, Madeira, Rum and Islay whisky. The tragedy is that many of these paradises, such as the Maldives, are at risk from rising sea levels. Peter Jackson perhaps puts it best: "New Zealand is not a small country but a large village," he writes.