Atlas of Improbable Places
A Journey to the World's Most Unusual Corners
by Travis Elborough
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 06 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 05 Aug 2021
‘This engrossing book traverses the heights and depths, the beauty and terror, of our world.’ - THE OBSERVER
Travis Elborough goes in search of the obscure and bizarre, the beautiful and arcane. His unique atlas shows you the modern world from surprising new vantage points. Discover the secret Soviet city of Zheleznogorsk and the church tower of San Juan Parangaricutiro, miraculously still standing as the sole survivor of a town sunk by lava. Explore the underground realms of Beijing and Berlin, dug for refuge and espionage, and the floating worlds of remote Palmerston and the macabre Island of Dolls.
The truths and myths behind these hidden lairs, forgotten cities and improbable wonders are as varied as the destinations themselves. These curious places are not just extraordinary sights but reflections on our relationship with the world around us.
‘Atlas of Improbable Places has that rare, through-the-wardrobe quality. It is a delightful compendium of the strangest places on the planet.’- DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘Understatedly expressive.’ - NEW YORK TIMES
‘Deeply researched – and really worth your time.’ - GQ
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 40 members
This atlas is perfect for those who are curious, or for those who want to travel and see sights that are not listed in most travel guides. One such listing is the Star City, a training facility for astronauts. To test the ability to endure long durations of isolation as they travel to Mars and beyond. Another is the abandoned Disney land style theme park in China. This is one that some people would have already heard about. The park was halted mid construction because of land disputes. What would have made this book more interesting would have been colored pictures instead of the black and white which I found boring.
In a time when exploring the world is something to look forward to but due to pandemic restrictions not easily doable, travel books are a great way to discover new places and stir up anticipation for the time after. Travis Elborough has found places which are not on the average agenda for a trip. In the subtitle, he calls them “the world’s most unusual corners” and I couldn’t agree more with that. He classifies his finding into six groups: dream creations, deserted destinations, architectural oddities, floating worlds, otherworldly places, and subterranean realms. In each, he presents several destinations which are distributed all over the world with a majority in the USA and Europe. Each spot is accompanied by a text of two to four pages explaining what makes the place outstanding. The author offers a great variety, from formerly closed soviet cities and other deserted military places over utopian places like Christania and villages abandoned after wars or other incidents to modern creations like the artificial island “The Palm” and underground ways which were never meant to be discovered. It is a great coffee table book or gift to somebody who likes to travel and to learn about never heard of places. The information has the perfect lengths to take up the book now and again and just read and learn a bit about this planet’s wondrous locations.
I've never known a travel book to have so much soul in it. This is one of those books that makes you very fond of the author - even when you don't as much know the color of his hair! The book started with an Italo Calvino reference that made me squeal because I am a thorough fan. I think this is a really important book and I believe its slightly mystic quality is going to amuse and attract readers for generations to come.
If you’re looking for a coffee table travel book full of glossy color photos, this is not the book for you. If, however, you want to read about weird, unusual places no one else has ever heard of, if you want to armchair travel to places that time has forgotten and explore underground lairs and crumbling towers, than this fascinating book is for you
I really enjoyed reading this book! The places included were super interesting and I had not previously heard of most of them. I liked that places from all over the world were included, not just far away countries that I will likely never visit. It was very interesting to see these places in not only my country, but one was even in my state! This book is great for people that like to travel and learn about monuments and places. I thought the amount of information for each place was the perfect amount, not too much but I definitely learned a lot!
This is a fun, quirky travel book. It's not really a practical guide and more of a reference book to use while sitting at home and thinking of being else where. It highlights odd locations from around the world, most are man-made while a few are natural. Each location has a black and white photograph and a 1-2 page description. Some of the places I have been to like Christiania in Copenhagen and Hearst Castle, while others I did not know existed. While it does provide the location's coordinates, for most of the locations the book provides no information as to whether or not it is open to visitors or is even still in existence. This book would be a fun gift for the person who has been everywhere.
Atlas of improbable Places by Travis Elborough is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early July. Originally published in 2016, this book is about built or partially built locations, places that have since been cleared out or destroyed by a cataclysmic event, weird structures, islands, prisons, secret bases, spooky/mystical/predestined/ancient and underground places, towns existing wherever there's water, independent cities/properties when migrants, refugees, and freethinkers live; others where only the very rich and prestigious dwell.
An amusing jaunt through “improbable” places around the world. The author doesn’t claim to have visited these places, so it’s not like it’s a travel guide; the term atlas has been chosen deliberately. The chapter headings give a suggestion of the sorts of places covered, although sometimes that’s a stretch. Dream Creations - sometimes an individual’s dream, sometimes more a societal aspiration; Deserted Destinations - deliberately, as in Wittenoom in WA, abandoned due to asbestos; or because people just… drifted away; Architectural Oddities - did you know that the London Bridge built in 1831 today stands in Arizona? Floating Worlds -like the Palms; mostly islands; Otherworldly Space, which seems to be mostly about death; And Subterranean Realms - I did not know there was an underground railway in London dedicated to mail delivery. Overall it’s a fun read, best viewed as one to dip into I think rather than reading cover to cover in a single sitting. Don’t expect a lot of detail about most places; this is a taster, not a through investigation of most places.
This book covers the most bizarre places on our planet and it was a delight to read through. Each location is only a few pages long, and I would"ve loved to hear more about them, but other than that I genuinely enjoyed it!
It made me travel to new places and to some I already knew. It's well written and kept me turning pages as I wanted to discover more. It could be a great way to create an itinerary around the world. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Completely fascinating book,an author who brings us to places most of us had never heard of or seen.Love how he thanked his wife for accompanying him on this unusual trip.Perfect for arm chair traveling unique so well written will be recommending and gifting this completely engrossing Atlas.#netgalley #quarto
The synopsis of this book sounded promising as I love getting off the beaten path. Easy to read and enjoyable for history and travel buffs, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I received an e-book from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.
A great compendium of unusual places —invlufing many I had never heard of—that will appeal to anyone interested in travel and geography
Atlas of Improbable Places is a fun read (this is a reissue) but fell a little short of my expectations. I didn't mark it down very far because if I remove my personal disappointment I enjoyed it quite a bit. First, my expectations. I expected more photographs and/or drawings/maps. I was thinking more along the lines of a coffee table or end table book, which usually means visually attractive as well as informative. This fell far short of what I would call visually appealing, though for a book that isn't supposed to be aesthetically pleasing it functions just fine. The short chapters about each place were all interesting and left me wanting more information. Even an additional page for each would have been helpful. Between a small black and white photo each and a relatively short text, I felt let down more often than satisfied. I expect to want to do a little more digging on my own when I read a book like this, but I don't expect to have to do that digging for each and every entry, just for the ones that really piqued my curiosity. On the flip side, since this has very few images and very short chapters it is actually a book one can easily read through rather than dip into periodically. Once I approached it as a more shallow overview rather than something that would make me feel I really knew these places, it became a decent read. I just didn't actually anticipate this kind of book. The places I had been I felt were given too short of an introduction which makes me wonder what wasn't brought up in the other entries. I would still recommend this to readers who want to know about some of the more "improbable" or unusual places in the world, especially readers who want to simply have a list of places that they can then research on their own. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
A thorough and intriguing collection of unique locations throughout the world. Each location has a couple pages dedicated to it, which makes this dense read feel much lighter than it is. There are pictures and illustrations throughout to keep the reader engaged. A fantastic read for lovers of geography, history/micro-histories, and the obscure.
In Twitter: Whilst we’re getting used to the idea that we can maybe think about travelling again soon, reading about travel is a great way to escape in your mind. ‘Atlas of Improbable Places’ by Travis Elborough @QuartoKnows https://t.co/yh9sabpLkW
Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for the digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Like most people, I love travelling, and that hasn't been possible since the pandemic hit. This book was a great way to travel around the world without leaving the house. Even though I found the book fascinating, it is shallow when talking about most places. In some cases, places I found more interesting, I felt the need to search for more pictures and info. I believe that a deep description of places was not the purpose of the book, though. I wished that at least the book had more pictures and that they were in color, and not just black and white. I do recommend you give the book a try if you want to learn a bit about different and unique places around the world.
• Atlas of Improbable Places- A Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Corners by Travis Elborough. I was unfamiliar with Mr. Elborough’s work, so I did a Google/Amazon search and was surprised that he is (1) young- born in 1971, (2) prolific- at least 10 books to his name and (3) not a surprise, he is English. This book was fun to read and is complimented well with a photograph and global coordinates of the 50 or so improbable places he has selected. I do not think this book can be used to create a bucket list for many people as the places are yes improbable, but in many cases, far from any place to call home for a night and not too exciting. As an example; Zheleznogorsk – a secret city in Siberia founded in 1950 for plutonium production. Now used to make among other things. Russia’s version of GPS. Was isolated and boring and well now just boring. As I read this book, I was googling the locations and interesting many would appear as the first possible match after only 2 or 3 letters. • I have been to only two; Colma City just South of San Francisco which is home to over 1,000,000 million graves and whose moto is “It’s great to be alive!” and Aokigahara near Mt. Fuji Japan that has the 2nd highest number of suicides just behind the Golden Gate Bridge. All in all, an interesting read.
With Covid I miss travelling and this has given me a boost of travelling crave! Such an interesting volume and loved that it was divided into different categories.
Very interesting introduction to some truly surprising places around the world, from an abandoned island being lost to the sea, to a cave full of mummies, to cities lost to natural- or human-made disaster. For those who read in little snippets, like in the bathroom or the car, this book would be a good choice. And since each entry is just an introduction to the place, it can fuel curiosity about these places and spark an interest in further research about them. I found myself wanting to learn more, and wishing for some free plane tickets.