The team at Atlas Obscura has created the perfect guide for travelers who would rather explore an amusement park at the bottom of a decommissioned salt mine than lounge on the beach. Fans of Atlas Obscura online will be familiar with the wide variety of odd and out-of-the-way places featured, most of which were submitted by the sharp-eyed community of readers (and travelers).

While you probably won’t pack their hefty and beautiful new hardcover book (titled, of course, “Atlas Obscura”) in your travel bag, you will surely get lost in the nearly 500 pages of skillful storytelling and photographs.

Cataloged by region, each entry shines a light not only on a place, but ultimately on our history and our humanity — our challenges, victories, quirks and personalities.

Whether it’s the Leper Tree in Malawi, which holds the skeletons of the afflicted in the hollow of its trunk, or Minneapolis’ own “World’s Quietest Room” where “After just a few minutes in the noiseless room, aural hallucinations set in,” the charm comes through in the stories. In curiosity after curiosity, we are reminded of how endlessly fascinating the world really is, both our natural wonders and our human ones.


Kim Schmidt is a writer and a wonderer, but not so much a wanderer. She enjoyed her Atlas Obscura world tour from the safety of her couch.

Atlas Obscura
By: Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton.
Publisher: Workman, 470 pages, $35.