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Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  4,801 ratings  ·  500 reviews
Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 600 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.

Here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells i
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Workman Publishing Company
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Busmun thinking back to my 12 year old self: I'd pour through this volume with reckless abandon, stop eating, get out the flashlight!
Rachel Elizabeth God no. The reading experience would not transfer well to audio. It is a beautiful book, built off of maps and images. Sections are brief but still in…moreGod no. The reading experience would not transfer well to audio. It is a beautiful book, built off of maps and images. Sections are brief but still interesting, but listening to an audio version would really disorient the reader. This is a very good read though! (less)

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Dan Schwent
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dan by: Kdawg91
Atlas Obscura is a guide to the world's strangest places.

I've been a fan of road trips almost as long as I've been an obscure facts nerd. This book combines the two in a fashion. I first came across it in an issue of mental_floss and was lucky enough to score a copy for Christmas.

Atlas Obscura has a lot of information on bizarre places around the world crammed into it's 400+ pages, from a penis museum in Iceland to a graveyard in northern Iran with penis-shaped tombstones, to other strange place
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was once a world-traveler. This had nothing to do with my courage and everything to do with my father being in the US Air Force. I had the privilege of being born in Germany and living in The Philippines, Italy, England, and even Nebraska. And all over the United States.

The funny thing is, though my parents were sure to take me to several tourist destinations while we were abroad, I usually didn't seek out such places myself. This was especially true in Italy, where my friends and I would go
Heidi The Reader
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Atlas Obscura reminds readers that the world is a weird and wonderful place full of amazing things to see. It examines extraordinary places from across the globe and includes informational tidbits about each.

This book could be handy as a reference guide for choosing an exotic locale for a vacation or for someone who is seeking information about places of historical significance for a certain YouTube channel that covers forgotten history.

Or, if neither of those things are your jam, it would make
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Was this really only published two years ago? The layout and photography looks so... 1989.
And clearly my and the authors' definitions of "obscure" vary.

It's probably better online, both visually and in the sense that you would (I assume) only see one place at a time and could read it or not as it struck your fancy, rather than flipping through searching for the interesting minority entries.

I did learn the neato word "traboule" (from Latin transambulare via vulgar Latin trabulare meaning "to cros
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Unless you are so dreadfully boring that organizing your toothpick collection while listening to your white noise machine is your version of a rockin' Friday night I'm pretty sure any one who crack's it's cover will find something to love in .

This absolutely gorgeous book began its life as a web site specializing in all places macabre, wackadoo, and eccentrically beautiful. Wanna spend the night on a Japanese island with more cats
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
an atlas but really more of a travelogue of the earth the has a page or two description of natural and unnatural wonders

covering all the continent's with several colour illustrations this book deserves at least an extra half star as the physical copy is gorgeous but I read the ebook. which had it's pros and cons but I would recommend a physical copy of this one to have the full benefit
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2016
The world is full of wonderful and magnificent things, from spectacular beaches, to amazing vistas, beautiful creatures and breath-taking waterfalls. But look a little harder and you can find a whole lot of other remarkable, wonderful and weird thing to amuse and entertain. If you are looking for those sorts of things, then this is the book for you.

Split into regions, the authors have brought together the most strange collection of naturally created objects, places and human artefacts. And there
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, favorites
A few days ago I had read a cool book on strange places to visit in the world. It was an interesting book and gave me some cool ideas. If I had a complaint it was the book was not that big and highlighted 51 places to visit.

Well that problem is now solved with the Atlas Obscura. Coming in at a beefy 400+ pages and with hundreds of entries throughout the world this Atlas has no such issue.

Wonderfully done, with neat little sections on the individual site and directions and pictures, this is a wor
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great book full of the more interesting places to see and that can be explored at your own pace without hordes of tourists getting in your way.
To see some fantastic images of a few of the places listed check out this blog of a journey around the EU (a sort of farewell before we left).
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read all my reviews on

I've been a fan of the website ( for a long time, and when I heard there was going to be a book, I just knew I had to read it.

And like the website, this is a very curious collection of interesting things from all over the world. Those who have been browsing, might recognize some of the entries, but this didn't bother me in the slightest. The entries are all short and often accompanied by pictures, making it perfect
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
Having been a fan of the website, I was so excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.

Even though the internet age has brought us 24 access to all things wondrous and strange, it's sometimes difficult to find things unless you know exactly what you're looking for. This book collects places, objects, and monuments that you didn't know you wanted to find, but that you definitely need to know about. I highly recommend this for anyone who is curious about the most unusua
This book is one of those that is jam-packed with interesting tidbits of information about rarely known facts from around the globe and then some.

It is one of those books that you can just curl up and go through page by page or just pick one at random and enjoy. Every page is a wonder and I found myself itching to turn the page and see what wonders came next.

The information runs the gamut, from mummies to monuments to secrets to unusual travel destinations to weird science facts. Not interested
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is there anything quite like Atlas Obscura? And now it’s a book! And having read several cool-blog-got-a-book-deal books, this is decidedly in the better half of that genre, which tends to be shit, because blogs and books are very different media, and they often can’t be translated from one to the other. The Atlas made the jump, which is nice, because more people will discover it.

I do not travel much, am a very bad traveler married to a very bad traveler. I have a few health problems, I use my G
Dec 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
This is interesting, but also has some shoddy editing.

I skipped ahead to the bit about California and read something about the city of Guadalupe being in the Colorado Desert. I've driven through Guadalupe. It's not in the desert. The sand involved in the story is ocean sand.

Then I got to Washington, and a story about the Spruce Goose. I'm from southern California. The Spruce Goose was in Long Beach when I was a kid, in the '80s. So when the book says "After Hughes died in 1976, the Spruce Goos
I have been a long time fan of the website and was fascinated to discover that Foer, author of "Moonwalking With Einstein", was responsible for it. Like I loved that book, this one was a pleasure. A definite must for any fan of novel adventures, roadside attractions, and random amazingness. The full color illustrations were awesome. The only negative? How I hate to read about all the places I will never be able to actually experience.

Or is it have yet to experience?

Alas, one can dream.
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thumbed through this- reading items that caught my interest. A fascinating book of some of the weird, hidden and OBSCURE places, things and stuff out there in the world. I checked it out from the library, but I think it would be a good addition to my library some day.
Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Atlas Obscura was founded in 2009 and began as a website that brought you a guide to the world's wondrous and weird places. It is a collaborative project with founders Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras, along with their community of explorers who help discover hidden spots to share with the world. They wanted to celebrate a different way of looking at the world, so whether you are looking miniature cities, books bound in human skin, or bone churches, Atlas Obsura is where to find them.

Now you can tra
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book, whether you are an armchair traveler, a geography buff, or just interested in the odd things that can be found around our world. The author breaks the book down by geographic areas and lists those unusual places and in some instances, customs, unknown to most of us. I was familiar with some of the items in this large illustrated guide but for the most part, I wondered why I had not heard of them. Each listing has a illustration/photograph of the subject matter, an expla ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The world is a weird and wonderful place, and the Atlas Obscura does a bang the hell up job of showing the strange, amazing and downright bizarre corners of this big blue ball we live on.

I am a information junkie and between this beautiful book and the website, my jones is fed on many levels. If you have a wanderlust, this book will make you extremely happy, if you are like me and just like knowing things..this book will make you extremely happy. (do you get my point)

So get your passports out, l
Jacki Leach
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love trivia, and enjoy reading about places no one has ever written about. Places with a bit of mystery. Places that make me want to sell everything I own and travel to them. But, alas, I have a stack of books I need to read, and a class in which I am participating, so I wasn't able to finish this amazing book. I plan on finishing it sometime in the near future. It calls to me ever since I returned it to the library. It'll be a great book to shelve alongside 'The People's Almanac (1, 2, and 3) ...more
This rating/review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.

I'll admit I definitely didn't read every page of this, but if I had the time I certainly would try. I've been a fan of the website for ages and I'm thrilled it's a real print book now. I really wish I had gotten my hands on this before my trip to Madrid! Or, at the very least, remembered to look up Madrid on the Atlas Obscura website before going. If you enjoy oddball attractions, this is a must-consult before travel. Even if you don't plan t
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
A fascinating mix of natural wonders and man-made oddities.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Armchair explorers, kids at heart, and anyone who doubts the complexity of existence on Earth
Recommended to Alan by: Topic and title
Compiled from elements of a decades-old online project that's still going on, this printed version of the is a big, beautiful compendium that spans every continent (yes, including Antarctica) to showcase the unusual, the endangered, the dangerous and the just plain weird. It's not a complete list, of course—even leaving aside the physical limitations of the printed page, not to mention the subjective nature of what counts as obscure—but editors Joshua Foer, Ella Morton and Dylan Th ...more
Andrew Benesh
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
First off, a confession. I didn't read the whole book. Normally I'd hold off on a review, but due to the unique structure of this book I feel comfortable giving my review without completing it.

Atlas Obscura is a guide to the stranger things in the world. Organized geographically, it traces historical artifacts, quirky art, and cultural remains. The goal is to expose a side of the world that is normally invisible to both tourists and locals alike. The resulting book is a bit of a geographic Wunde
Dana Stabenow
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A survey of either obscure or completely forgotten places all over the planet, man-made and natural. A delight to page through. (And if you were an author looking for inspiration for a setting, this book would be the place to start.)
This was endlessly entertaining, informative, and downright engrossing. A must-read for those interested in the weird, the unusual, or the things that this planet worth living on.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
I LOVE the Atlas Obscura website, and thoroughly enjoy the daily emails I get from the site, which includes several places around the globe that are truly out-of-the-way, and obscure. I was so excited to see that a new version of The Book had come out in 2019, and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Alas, I have been very disappointed in the choices made and published in this book. Let me make it clear here that I did NOT read this book. It's hundreds of dense pages, full of photos and some of ...more
Christopher Lawson
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"A Cabinet of Curiosities that is Meant to Inspire Wonderlust as Much as Wanderlust"

ATLAS OBSCURA is one of those books that is nearly impossible to review. Although not technically a "picture book," that would be a good way to describe this book. The authors are clear that the book is not any type of travel guide, or tips on top places, or anything like that. Not at all. Rather, it's a guide to bizarre, wondrous places that you probably don't even know exist.

I confess that I have been to very f
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The world is truly full of interesting things... some man-made, some natural; some delightful, some macabre; some beautiful, some ugly. This book has it all. It's organized by continent and region.

This might be the perfect book to sit on your coffee table and page through every once in a while. I read/skimmed it in a short time since I had it from the library, and I think it would be even more interesting in short, spread out doses (when confronted with 450 pages of even the most interesting thi
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting book that I browsed, rather than read. It seems more like an encyclopedia than an atlas, listing and describing various locations with enough photos included to tantalize the curious traveler. It's organized by continent/country/city with some small maps to keep the reader oriented. The trick is that these are obscure attractions. So by definition, the reader/traveler will need to travel a little afield to get to many of the more interesting places.

I'm a browser by nature, which m
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Personal life

Foer is the younger brother of New Republic editor Franklin Foer and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. He is the son of Esther Foer, president of a public relations firm, and Albert Foer, a think-tank president. He was born in Washington, D.C. and attended Georgetown Day School. He then went on to graduate from Yale University, where he lived in Silliman College, in 2004.

Foer is married

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