What started as a simple irritation with a viral map on social media in October 2014 turned into a personal project for me over the course of two winters. A "Literary Map of the United States" was created by Brooklyn Magazine which depicted Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer as the book to best represent all of Alaska. I wanted to find a more representative book, but was faced with a troublesome question: what one book best represents Alaska? Knowing it would be impossible to choose just one, I divided the state into region, subregions, basins, and subbasins, based on the hierarchy of the USGS National Watershed Boundaries, referred to also as hydrologic unit code (HUC) levels in this documentation.
At first, I sought to create a static image of the titles, but quickly decided that place-based book recommendations should allow for place-based exploration. A literary map must be spatial to be a true map, and would best serve the audience if they could interact with it. Therefore, the final product would need to be geospatial but available to a wider audience, making an interactive web map the best choice for a final product.