The Islanders by Christopher Priest
In this Sci Fi imagining of Earth written in a travel guide format, the planet is mostly open water filled with thousands of Islands of all sizes, shapes and weather patterns. The northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere are bisected by this world sized ocean. The hemispheres are where endless wars are waged for one reason or another. The islands are a haven from all the unrest in the two hemispheres. Each featured island has its own stories and characters. As you read through the book you see that some of the stories and characters are related but you would have to read through it twice to really see the connections. The stories are uneven with one about discovering a lethal variety of insect on one island, which is quite engaging, to another about a man working in a theater, which is rather lame and boring.
This book is intriguing at first and then as you get into it, becomes confusing unless you read it all in one sitting and have the memory of an elephant. It kind of works as a group of short stories but the gazetteer function is a distraction. I read it because it was favorably compared to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I would stick with Mitchell.