How to: Read a Topographical Map

I’ve recently been burning my way through Band of Brothers for this first time since 8th grade social studies, and the amount of time they spend reading maps leaves me staggered and envious (lets be clear: they do lots of much more amazing other stuff too).  
Now it’s easy to think of topographical maps as something only soldiers in WWII should know, but a basic understanding of how to read them will open up worlds of possibilities. Any camper or hiker who wants to up his game or shoot for extended camping trips, would do well to check it out, not to mention it could help you through a host of survival scenarios. 
Or hey, take your hometown’s map and make cool wall art?