The gates of an amusement park are a portal to a magical realm of thrill rides and fantasy worlds, larger-than-life characters, and the best portable foods on the planet. (We’re looking at you, corn dogs and kettle corn!)
And it’s been that way since the beginning. The first quasi-amusement park entertained revelers in 1133 with merry-go-rounds, extravagant stage shows, gingerbread, sausages, and dancing in the streets. All that merriment made it easy to forget it was meant to honor St. Bartholomew.
Eventually, the rides got bigger (and faster and more hair-raising), the shows more over-the-top, and the spectacle more spectacular. Roller coasters! Carousels! Tilt-a-Whirls! Mickey and Donald and Cinderella! Legos! Quidditch! Funnel cakes! Turkey legs! And fireworks!
In this episode, we take a fast romp through the history of amusement parks, revel in an essay by Russian writer Maxim Gorky, and celebrate the magical world of Walt Disney. Then we recommend five books that took us to amusement parks on the page, including a comedy-thriller set in Helsinki, a nonfiction exploration of delight, a dystopian disaster tale, and historical mysteries set in 1915 Chicago and 1911 Coney Island. (show notes / transcript)
Top image courtesy of Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.