Unusually today, I’m recommending a book I haven’t completely finished. The reason for that is that this isn’t really the kind of book you sit down and read all at once. It’s more a book for dipping in and out of. Literary Wonderlands takes you on 100 adventures to fictional worlds you may be familiar with already or places you have yet to discover.
This beautifully illustrated hardback book is perfect for book-lovers. It will take you from the time of ancient myth and legend, through the golden age of fantasy, right up to the contemporary computer age. As you journey through the ages, these literary wonderlands will also transport you throughout the world. Some of the locations are real such as the Spain of Cervantes’ Don Quixote or the near future California of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. However, some are purely fictional such as down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s Neverland and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. You will also journey to the Moon with Cyrano de Bergerac, under the sea with Jules Verne and to other galaxies with Douglas Adams. Each entry explains a bit about the plot of the book, describes the setting created, often tells a little of the historical context when the author was writing and talks of the place it held in people’s thoughts then or now. Each entry is also accompanied by original illustrations, author photographs and occasionally film stills.
As I flicked through the book, choosing entries at random to read, many childhood memories were evoked. For example, I remembered how much I enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, so much that I had to read about all the other adventures set in the magical world of Narnia. I loved the inclusion of the illustrations I remembered from Alice in Wonderland and remember being terrified by the Queen of Hearts! The Wizard of Oz is probably more associated with the film these days but I do remember borrowing the book and some sequels from my library and being surprised at the differences from the film. Perhaps a first introduction that the book is almost always better than a film adaptation! A more recent discovery (though more years ago than I care to think about actually) is the magical Discworld created by the late great Terry Pratchett. I was introduced to Discworld by my husband who, not long after we met ,recommended that I read Mort. I did and I was hooked – and I don’t normally enjoy fantasy type books.
But as well as bringing back memories, I have also come across new authors to investigate and new literary worlds to explore. Literary Wonderlands is a real treasury to be enjoyed at leisure, something I fully intend to do as I read more of the book.
Huge thanks to Alison Menzies for my copy of this book. Literary Wonderlands is published in hardback by Modern Books (an imprint of Elwin Street Productions). You can buy in all good bookshops or order a copy online here: Literary Wonderlands.
From the back of the book
Imaginary worlds have captivated readers since the first works of literature. Lovingly researched and beautifully produced, Literary Wonderlands explores the timeless, captivating features of literature’s greatest fictional worlds and the minds that created them. The book is comprised of nearly 100 sections, each of which details the plot of a famous fantasy world, the historical circumstances that surrounded its production, the author’s inspiration, and the place it holds in the public imagination. Roaming from classic tales including C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, this truly global collection chronicles over two thousand years of literary creation. Accompanied by stunning visuals that elucidate the production of each work, Literary Wonderlands is an enchanting read for anyone who has ever been transported to another place through the power of the written word