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Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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“In this gorgeous collection, the celebrated Atlas Obscura website is condensed into 480 pages of awe-inspiring destinations. For lovers of history and exploration, the striking color photographs will spark immediate wanderlust.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Odds are you won’t get past three pages without being amazed at something truly strange that you didn’t know existed.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Richly illustrated, delightfully strange, this compendium of off-beat destinations should spark many adventures, both terrestrial and imaginary.” —Boston Globe
“This book is PACKED with wonderful, amazing, fascinating places all around the world. This is the perfect gift for the person who thinks they’ve done it all and seen it all because this shows that there’s so much more in the world to explore. It’s a wonderful, wonderful coffee table book.” —NBC, “TODAY”
“A perfect tome for the armchair explorer and the actual traveler alike.” —Austin American Statesman
“The most addictive book of the year.” —Colin McEnroe, WNPR
“Whether describing a Canadian museum that showcases world history through shoes, a pet-casket company that will also sell you a unit for your severed limb, a Greek snake festival, or a place in the Canary Islands where inhabitants communicate through whistling, the authors have compiled an enthralling range of oddities. Featuring full-color illustrations, this hefty and gorgeously produced tome will be eagerly pored over by readers of many ages and fans of the original website.”—Booklist (Starred Review)
“If this compendium of the weirdest, wackiest, and most wonderful destinations on the planet doesn't fill you with insatiable wanderlust, then you need to check your pulse.” —mental_floss
“This is the fun way, a deep dive (sometimes literally) into places you’d never find otherwise, the weird and wild wonders of the world.” —WIRED
“The book is for people who prefer to live like locals when they travel, seek out new cultures on vacation, or just prefer the weirdness of history to traditional by-the-book experiences. Even if you can’t travel, Atlas Obscura is a window into places you’d otherwise never know existed.” —lifehacker
“A travel guide for the most adventurous of tourists . . . a wonderful browse [for] armchair travelers who enjoyed Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York and Frank Warren’s PostSecret.” —Library Journal
“I thought I had seen most of the interesting bits of the world. Atlas Obscura showed me that I was wrong.It's the kind of book that makes you want to pack in your workaday life and head out to places you'd never have dreamed of going, to see things you could not even have imagined. A joy to read and to reread.”
—NEIL GAIMAN, author of Sandman and American Gods
“Atlas Obscura is a joyful antidote to the creeping suspicion that travel these days is little more than a homogenized corporate shopping opportunity.Here are hundreds of surprising, perplexing, mind-blowing, inspiring reasons to travel a day longer and farther off the path. . . . Bestest travel guide ever.”
—MARY ROACH, author of Stiff and Gulp
“Atlas Obscura may be the only thing that can still inspire me to leave my apartment. . . . This resource is essential for exploring the world and engaging adventure with wit and style (often from the comfort of my bed).”
—LENA DUNHAM, creator of Girls and author of Not That Kind of Girl
“My favorite travel guide! Never start a trip without knowing where a haunted hotel or a mouth of hell is!”
—GUILLERMO DEL TORO, filmmaker, Pan’s Labyrinth
“What a strange and wonderful book! It is as curious and surprising as Saddam Hussein’s very own Blood Qur’an—written in his own blood—which I would never have known about had I not read the amazing Atlas Obscura.”
—JON RONSON, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
“This book is as curious and enthralling as the world it covers. Each page reveals some hidden realm—a realm that is frightening, or funny, or magical, or simply mad, but that always leaves the reader in wonder.”
—DAVID GRANN, author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
“Your peregrine falcon needs a small talon trim? Go straight to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. . . . Be grateful when visiting the Karni Mata Rat Temple if one of the 20,000 venerated rodents runs across your bare foot—it is considered good luck. . . . You won’t be able to enter the 20-years-in-the-making and still abandoned tallest hotel in the world. It does not matter. Wherever you look around Pyongyang, North Korea, the 105-story skyscraper silently towers over all. . . . Life is short. Our planet is filled with curiosities and marvels . . . and this wondrous book is your guide!”
—PHILIPPE PETIT, high-wire artist and explorer
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I read a short description of the book in the travel section of the SF Chronicle a few weeks ago, and made the purchase based on that. Well, that combined with my sister verifying that her son might actually appreciate this book!
There are many hundreds of places and things described over about 450 pages, with most including a photo, and the balance a drawing. I think the only things without a graphic are the short, “Also in or near…” entries. Those graphics add interest and tend to draw you in, encouraging you to read the piece about whatever is depicted graphically.
The book must weigh something like 2 pounds – just guessing – meaning you might not be likely to pack it in your suitcase. However, it’s easy enough to take digital photos of any entries you may want to have easy access to on a trip. It’s printed on heavy paper, and I like that the pages are a pleasing, very light buff color, much nicer than stark white. Point being, it’s aesthetically a very nicely put together book.
Because I bought this as a gift, I've looked through it closely but have not read it cover to cover. The entries seem to be written for a variety of readers and travelers, but certainly far from the lowest common denominator. It’s not a typical travel book! I don’t find every entry to be about a fascinating item, but a great many are, and possibly none whatsoever are dull. Even things that might not seem of particular interest based on the heading end up proving to be interesting when you get into the text. That said, there are items about things I have no interest in seeing, e.g., “Lake Monsters of the USA,” but there don’t seem to be many of that sort of thing included. As with "Lake Monsters," even if you (or a recipient) aren't likely to visit many of the places described, I think for many curious people this would make for an interesting read even without the travel element.
It's not a perfect book, and I don't think any one book can be perfect for all readers, but I do think it's very good and I can easily recommend it for anyone who might be potentially interested. Given the quality of the contents and of the physical item itself, I am very pleased with the price. Easy 5 stars and recommendation!
I pre-ordered this because I was already a huge fan of the website and decided to support the project. I figured at the very least I'd have a gift ready for the holidays. But I am absolutely keeping this for myself, and will probably buy another copy for one of my family members soon. The book inspires you to venture out and explore, and reminds you that even in this era of Google Earth and Twitter there is plenty of mystery left out there that's waiting to be stumbled upon.
The book, unfortunately isn't a great medium to capture the website's content; perhaps on the Kindle even less so. At best it's more of a coffee table book, in which you may flip to a page at random and few paragraphs about something you probably didn't know before.
Posts typically span a few paragraphs, or just under a minute or reading time, making it hard to read this from cover to cover, with no logical progression of the book's content (except for grouping my continent). What's wonderful about the posts online is that they're typically quite a bit longer and thread several high resolution images into the article, instead of one small one after you've read the content. From the website I stumble upon places I really want to visit, but from the book I'm only left with mild amusement.
I'd love to support the website, and that's why I bought the book, however it really didn't feel like it was the best they could have done.
Advise to authors for next edition is to redesign the index system by numbering all the places on the map so that it's much faster to find the description of the places. In addition, please write the name of the country under each story; it will make it much easter to figure out exactly which place on the map I'm reading about.