This season’s crop of coffee-table books delivers more than just pretty pictures. For the person on your gift-giving list who has everything, consider one of these books designed to inspire, entertain and educate.
‘Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders’
The website devoted to unique, arcane and downright bizarre places, things and events around the world is now available in book form. Organized by continents and countries, this fascinating compendium of peculiarities is designed to amaze.
Where else might one learn about the storm prognosticator made from a carousel of leeches by surgeon George Merryweather? It debuted at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, and a reproduction is on display at the Barometer World Exhibition museum in Devon, England.
Or the Fireball Festival, a high-spirited event in which participants fling flaming fuel-soaked rags at one another every Aug. 31 in Nejapa, El Salvador.
Atlanta doesn’t escape scrutiny. Among its oddities is the Crypt of Civilization at Oglethorpe University, a room-sized time capsule established in 1936 and sealed until the year 8113. The items then-President Thornwell Jacobs and archivist Thomas Peters saw fit to preserve for future mankind include a potato masher, set of false eyelashes, dental floss and the steel plates used to print the Atlanta Journal. (Edited by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton. Workman Publishing. $35)
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