Atlas Obscura's New Book Puts the World in Your Hands

Atlas Obscura/Bek O'Connell
Atlas Obscura/Bek O'Connell / Atlas Obscura/Bek O'Connell

Atlas Obscura began in 2009 as a curated collection of write-ups about interesting places from around the world, but it's grown into something much bigger. The founders, Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras, have since built a thorough catalog of the world's curiosities with the help of other staff and readers around the world, who continue to add new locations to the Atlas. Taking the collaborative project to the next level, Foer, Thuras, and author Ella Morton have announced the release of the first Atlas book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, which features images and information about 600 fascinating locations, from the Blood Falls of Antarctica, to a nuclear-power-plant-turned-amusement park outside of Düsseldorf and a sloth sanctuary in Limón, Costa Rica.

Set to hit bookstores in September (and currently available for pre-order), the hardcover contains 480 pages organized into chapters geographically by region. Some of the regions are continental (Europe, Africa, Asia, etc.), while others are smaller (Canada and the United States each get their own section, for example). Almost every entry in the book is accompanied by an image, and much like the website, each location is listed with its geographic coordinates. The text in the book has been edited from the source material, but is not simply a copy-and-pasted version that has been printed onto paper to be sold. There are short articles and lists of related content, and each subchapter includes a list of places that travelers may want to add to an itinerary while they're in the area.

While the site is great for learning about new places, the book benefits from being a physical object. Instead of searching through the site for specific places or clicking adjacent articles, readers can get a better feel for a given region just by turning the page. The book also works as a great companion piece for the site, giving readers a place to start before going off to learn more online.

"Atlas Obscura is a joyful antidote to the creeping suspicion that travel these days is little more than a homogenized corporate shopping opportunity," author Mary Roach said. "Here are hundreds of surprising, perplexing, mind-blowing, inspiring reasons to travel a day longer and farther off the path ... Bestest travel guide ever." As a special offer for those who preorder, Atlas Obscura is giving away limited enamel pins while supplies last. Head to the site to learn more about the book.