Atlas Obscura

Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Nov 23, 2017

When I started this book, my intention was to skip around and read only about the places that jumped out at me. It turns out that everything jumped out at me, and I was held captive by this giant book for several months. With pictures galore, an astonishing amount of research, and hours of happy reading, Atlas Obscura is a one-of-a-kind travel book that invites you to explore all the hidden wonders of the globe.

I'm quite fearful of South America after reading Atlas Obscura. With places like The North Yungas Death Road, The Island of the Dolls, and The Cave of Swallows (which should really be called The Cave of Scary Creepy Crawly Things), I had a few nightmares during this chapter. As scared as I am to visit South America again (I've been to Guatemala), I finished the South America chapter and found myself wanting more. That's the beauty of Atlas Obscura. Whether you're packing your bags and ready to drop everything to visit one of the world's many strange places, or you're mentally crossing an entire continent off of your travel list, there's just enough information to leave you wanting more, and you will definitely want more. I love books like this--books that send me on a wild goose chase through library shelves, searching for additional information.

Though South America is a bit frightening for my travel tastes, there are many places from Atlas Obscura that I would love to visit. I wouldn't mind visiting most of the crypts and cemeteries mentioned, such as the dog cemetery in France or the Hanging Coffins in Sagada (though I'm banking on the invention of teleportation by the time I go so I can skip the long, perilous journey). There are also several places I thought only existed in fairytales, such as the Forestiere Underground Gardens in California and Paronella Park in Queensland, Australia. I had just as much fun reading Atlas Obscura as I did adding places to my existing bucket list, which is now many pages long thanks to this book. Intriguingly enough, there are many places listed that are not open to visitors. What a tease! Many places also require several modes of travel, both conventional (planes) and not so conventional (zip lining).

Atlas Obscura will take a long time to read, and I recommend reading it slowly. I also recommend leaving it out on the coffee table, because the conversations it ignites are just as strange and delightful as the book itself. And when you finish, don't forget to read the imaginative organization of its content just in case you're interested in, say, Very Large Things or Self-Built Castles and you want to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Reviewed by Hannah Jane W.
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