Patricia Schulz’s 1000 Places to See Before You Die is one of those iconic titles that is designed to whet your travel appetite and encourage you to see the world in all its beauty. I love books like this, full of snippets, lists and ideas. And this particular listicle is something of a monster. Coming in the “coffee table books” category for sure, you’ll need two hands to pick it up and won’t want it on your lap for too long…
This is actually a new version of a classic title that’s been around for years. Since it was first published, it’s sold 3.5 million copies and has been translated into 23 languages, which must mean that Schulz is doing something right. This new – deluxe – edition of the book doesn’t just come with a fancy new cover, though, it’s been completely reworked to include new photography and new descriptions for many of the places, I guess the world has changed quite a bit since the second edition was published in 2012.
To give you some of the publisher’s notes, 1000 Places to See Before You Die is designed to speak to our hearts; it’s a visual journey of the best the world has to offer. The idea is to inspire the reader, to instil a sense of joy and curiosity, and to encourage us to realise how lucky we are to live in a world filled with such beauty and wonder. It certainly is a beautiful book.
I do two things when I get books like this one. The first is to check what is included from where I live and where I’m from to see if I agree with the selection or not, and the second is to look through and see where I’ve been – I do love a bit of nostalgia.
Schulz tackles Great Britain and Ireland first, and I do agree with her suggestions in the main. As a travel book – not an outdoors book – there are lots of cities, cultural sights, and touristy things in her list, rather than must-climb hills or iconic wild swims. But that’s okay by me, I do love a bit of urban wandering and sight seeing when I’m not in my muddy boots. We have lots of Cathedrals, including Winchester and Canterbury, other famous buildings including Chatsworth and Osbourne House, and a whole spread on London including more than a weekend’s worth of things to see. There are events in here too – the Antiques and Collectors Fair at Newark Showground and Glyndebourne Festival in Lewes both make an appearance, which means you’re not only deciding on what to put on your travel list, but also when. I think the thing that made me smile the most was when I was thumbing through the pages with suggestions here in England I discovered a great entry for Salisbury Cathedral. Did you know the spire is 404-feet high and is the pinnacle of the Gothic style? I think Patricia Schulz has a sense of humour!
I’m fortunate that while I wouldn’t consider myself a seasoned traveller by today’s standards, I have been to some cool places and seen some cool things, especially in the USA and Europe, and I was certainly filled with a longing to return when I got to those pages. Route 66, Yosemite, Big Sur, Durango, the Golden Gate Bridge, Monument Valley, the Everglades – more please! We already knew that we’ve only scratched the surface of exploring the sights and sounds of the USA, this book has confirmed that once again, I think we need another ten weeks over there!
Onto what this book is designed for, and that is adding to my travel bucket list. It certainly did that in spades. This book is absolutely a showcase of the world’s treasures, and in can’t deny that it made me want to book one or another of my dream trips right now. For anyone who is curious and wants to explore new places and revisit old favourites, this is a lovely conversation starter to have in your living room.
1000 Places to See Before You Die would make a lovely gift for anyone who loves travel and culture. The heavy deluxe edition is £40 and can be found on Amazon, Waterstones, and most likely in your local independent bookshop (which is always better, but I can’t link there!). You can also get the 2012 second edition paperback (fewer photos but more practical advice) and the 2020 desk calendar if you don’t want the biggie.
This book was a gift from the publisher. Amazon links are affiliate links.