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Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World's Most Unusual Corners

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  36 reviews
This atlas of weird and unusual locations from National Geographic unveils the strange-but-true history, trivia, and geography of our planet’s most intriguing and curious places. From deserted cities and strange settlements, to remote islands and underground labyrinths, this atlas features more than 50 unusual locations around the world—from San Juan in Parangaricutiro, a ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by National Geographic (first published 2016)
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3.54  · 
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 ·  201 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I am a person who truly enjoys traveling. I have been to every continent (save Antarctica) and am always looking for new and interesting things to see and do. Thus this Atlas was a very cool thing.

It is a listing, with description, of 51 of the oddest things out in the world to see. For example in Wales there is a place called Portmeirion. A beautiful architectural work it boasts even a full scale ship model on its grounds.

Or the Hearst Castle in California, or Teufelsberg in Berlin where this i
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book gives the reader a peek into some of the quirkiest corners of our world, both natural and man-made. Of the latter, I can only think that some people have very big dreams, and others just have too much money!

But on balance I think I was more drawn to the built/created places, possibly because of what they say about the people behind their conception. And generally these were the ones with the fascinating bits of history and/or social commentary to go with them. For example, there's the
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
The Atlas of Improbable Places - A Journey to the World's Most Unusual Corners by Travis Elborough is a stunning hardcover book with maps from Alan Horsfield.

This collection of deserted islands, subterranean secrets and bizarre and strange locations around the world is broken down into categories, including: Deserted Destinations, Architectural Oddities, Floating Worlds, Otherworldly Spaces (my favourite) among others.

The lack of colour photographs often had me seeking more information online, h
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 Stars
I am a person that likes to travel every once is awhile. After reading this book it gave me a better view of the whole world. I did learn a lot just by reading this book. I was for sure I wasn't going to learn a thing while reading this book, but I actually did. I am really glad that I got a bigger point of view of the world. One thing that I did not like was how long it was. I know they want you get a view of the world, but I think it could be a little bit shorter than what it is. I pro
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This was a beautifully crafted book: thick paper, elegant (if rather pointless--why the focus on "urban areas" without the context?) maps, sometimes stunning photography (although why the black and white? and why just 1 or 2 per location?) and a wonderful layout.

However, the content of the book was lacking. The places/events had very little context, and if you didn't already know something about the topic, the entries were confusing. The maps, while nicely done, didn't really place each location
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a very easy book to read and enjoy. I’d like to have Google Earth open if I was to read this again. I’ve come across a few of these places in other works before, Coma for example I discovered in a ‘This American life podcast’ but there are so many others I’d never heard of. I’d start a travel plan or an extended read based on the cool places in this one book.
Jim Angstadt
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World's Most Unusual Corners
Travis Elborough, Martin Brown

Fun and shallow, this is a list of weird, amusing, historical, and unusual places.

Don't sit in a comfortable chair to read this; be at a computer with a large screen. Use Google maps and photos to get another viewpoint on these places.

Some of these sites have a history that tells us a little about ourselves and the world we live in. But that's a byproduct. Just enjoy the unusual.
Chesterfield Books
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Received this book as a gift because I love to travel. Kept me entertained for a few hours. If yo like history and odd, unusual or abandoned public works -- subways, penitentiaries, tunnels -- this book is a great way to waste away a rainy afternoon. Includes brief histories and black and white photos o the sites surveyed.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2018
This gets four stars although it's actually incredibly frustrating: the articles all stop just as they're getting interesting and the photos don't match up to the gorgeous maps and descriptions. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enthralled.
Henrik Warne
Quite a few interesting places, but the presentation isn't very good. Black and white pictures and maps that are hard to read. Could have been done much better.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
So-so. Really suffers from the cheapskate decision to print all photographs in black and white.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
Content was interesting but the photography was abysmal.
Nathan Albright
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2018
It's not surprising that I am attracted to atlases of odd and unusual places [1].  I always considered it axiomatic that odd people would be interested in odd places.  Moreover, we live in a world where it is assumed that exploration and satellite mapping and technology have made the world an entirely understood places where there is no weirdness left.  On the contrary, technologies have often revealed that the world is more weird than we previously thought.  There are still mysterious cities th ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Best for: People who enjoy books on world curiosities that don’t focus on making fun of or judging individuals. People who like books with three-four page chunks that can be read at once.

In a nutshell: The authors provide quick backgrounds on 51 places spread (very inequitably) across six continents, divided into categories of Dream Creations, Deserted Destinations, Architectural Oddities, Floating Worlds, Otherworldly Spaces, and Subterranean Realms.

Worth quoting:

Why I chose it: I’m always l
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
For a larger format you would think color photos would be included. Alas, just black & whites. The info contained is a start. For the subjects that pique your interest, you'll have to research elsewhere as they're not much more than brief summaries here. Not so much a "Journey" as an overview. The entry about Oradour-sur-Glane sent my previously, utterly ignorant self on a several-hours journey into further research.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: geography
I had such high hopes for this book! There are so incredibly cool places out there, and this book promised to visit many of them.

Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the simplistic maps, few photos, and very limited descriptions of each location. There were a couple of solid descriptions, two or three pages, but some were only a few paragraphs long and begged for more detail!

I would love to see something like this with half as many locations and twice as long descriptions.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: a-in-kailua
Interesting, but the pictures are horrible! Fantasy land is described but no pictures. It feels like half the book is missing. I'd read something about a cool place and . . . that's all.
Marjorie Schultz
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I learned some new history but a lot of it was way out there.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting reading!

Waleska Jungmann
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rich in interesting information, taking off one star because it would have greatly benefited from color pictures, instead of black and white.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: armchair-travel
Fascinating and unusual. Although I had heard of a few of the locales featured in this book, I was unfamiliar with most . I only wish there had been color photos.
Sharon Gardner
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were lots of interesting places and stories covered in this book, but I felt it badly lacked good quality colour photographs.
Gordon Howard
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Moderately interesting two-page descriptions of the world's oddities.
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Good bibliography and maps but I sometimes wanted more details.
Glen U
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Split between the man made and the natural, "Atlas of Improbable Places" takes the reader to varied and unusual locales. From the suicide forest at the foot of Mt. Fugi in Japan to the totally manmade island in the desert, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, Elborough takes us on a journey around the world. Incorporating the ancient and the ultra modern, the wonderful and the catastrophic, he shows us the most curious and unlikely places on the planet. My only negative concerning the book is that there are ...more
Dani K
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 52-books-in-2018
This book was pretty “meh” for me. I love travel, and maps, and late-night Wikipedia binges on articles about strange places, so I thought this would be right up my alley. Maybe I’m not the intended audience...but I felt like there was nothing in this book that was new, and every time a chapter/article/blurb/what-have-you got interesting it abruptly ended. Nice coffee table book, but nothing truly intellectually stimulating here.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Nice little book, lots of interesting places chosen well. History is interesting but often there could have been more pictures, or descriptions of what the places are actually like now. Some of the accounts end rather abruptly
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I absolutely loved this book, it was written on a witty, engaging style and there were so many interesting places around the globe to read about.

Perhaps the only downside was a lack of colour photos, but you can't have everything I guess!
Callum Soukup-Croy
This is an interesting book for those with an interest in geography and oddities. Strange places around the world are highlighted for their historical, cultural or natural significance with some great pictures to accompany them. However, detail is very thin. The text for every location feels only like an introductory paragraph and you are left feeling a little short changed. The pictures are interesting but are often full page or double spread, taking up valuable space along with maps, that I fe ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting collection of places, but would have benefitted from color photographs. My favorite sections were "Deserted Destinations" and "Otherworldly Spaces." I read most of this at my computer so I could look up particularly unique locations and view more photographs.
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