"Atlas Obscura 2nd Edition," by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton, (Workman Publishing: New York), $37.50 hardback.
"What a Wonderful World," sang Louis Armstrong. To that might be added Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." You will experience both emotions in abundance when you read this truly astounding account of wonderful people and odd, magnificent, even unforgettable places. Oh, and dare I add bizarre, happy and utterly mesmerizing events?
This collection of dozens and dozens of newly added fantastic stories and photos to an already bulging cabinet of curiosities begs to be shared, talked about, and learned from. Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras are co-founders of the "Atlas Obscura" enterprise that brings all of this about, and Ella Morton is their editor. Together they will live forever in your memory because they bring you where only poetry has in the past. You see and learn about marvels beyond belief. And they are all real.
"Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders" does indeed invite you along to every single continent's strange occurrences. Natural wonders such as Antarctica's Pole of Inaccessibility, Abkhazia's deepest cave, and the Hoba Meteorite in Namibia are matched by historical locations everywhere. You see where strange Cold War ruins throughout Europe beckon, and even where Solomon's Castle in Ona, Florida, awaits. There's even a Sound Garden in Seattle if your other senses need stimulating.
And you'll imagine what it must be like to "bungee jump" when you see where the idea came from in the distant island of Vanuatu, where locals dive using ... reeds! Who can leave out cities around the world, each with dozens of entries to be examined and contemplated. Monasteries, mountains, masks, museums and marvels await your every turn of the page. This is a book you quite literally can't put down.
Newly updated city maps help you, the "explorer," if you should plan to visit these actual locations. The Cabinet of Curiosities also offers, at the end of each photo essay, directions on how to reach the place just tantalizingly beyond your reach.
No one can say that they can't figure out what to get for that curious child, that lonely uncle, or adventurous friend. The mother and father who tell their children stories have an Aladdin's Cave of magic to choose from. And they are all true. You'll find this is truly "A Wonderful World." You must tell you friends, because now you'll have lots to talk about. Hopefully one day you'll visit your world, but with this great coffee table book you'll already know the world is "curiouser and curiouser" as Alice described her Wonderland.