Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Travel Roundup: Spring Travel Guides, 2012

--by Brad Hooper (first published in Booklist, April 1, 2012)

Evidence, both anecdotal and statistical, leads us to believe that only the direst of circumstances will discourage travelers from traveling. And that is as it should be. May every horizon continue to open up for us. With that sentiment in mind, we offer our annual spring roundup of recommended titles that have appeared over the past six months. —Brad Hooper

DK Family Guide to LondonDK Eyewitness Travel Guides (DK, paper).

  • Family Guide: London. $25 (9780756689544).
  • Family Guide: New York City. $25 (9780756689551).
  • Family Guide: Paris. $25 (9780756689568).
  • Family Guide: Washington, D.C. $25 (9780756689575).

These guides bring DK’s usual visual and informational superiority to bear on how to give kids the best time in these fabulous cities.

Frommer’s Guides (Wiley, paper).

  • Australia. 18th ed. $26.99 (9781118065068).
  • Boston. $19.99 (9781118017210).
  • Honduras. 2d ed. $21.99 (9781118072752).
  • New York City. $19.99 (9781118027400).
  • Poland. 2d ed. $21.99 (9780470681602).
  • Seoul Day by Day. $13.99 (9780470931448).

Turn to a Frommer’s guide and you can rest assured you will find reliable information and guidance, all presented with good spirit.

A Grand Tour of Gardens: Traveling in Beauty through Western Europe and the United States. By Annie Sinkler Whaley LeClercq. Univ. of South Carolina, $29.95 (9781611170689).

Very stylish two- to three-page essays on historic gardens of particular note in the U.S. and Europe make up this lovely guide.

Great British Pubs. By Adrian Tierney-Jones. IPG, paper, $23.95 (9781852492656).

One of the things Britain is synonymous with in the traveler’s mind is pubs, and more than 200 of those hallowed institutions for socializing are profiled in this comprehensive guide.

Contemporary New York City ArchitectureGuide to Contemporary New York City Architecture. By John Hill. Norton, paper, $29.95 (9780393733266).

The Big Apple is an architectural heaven, and visitors and natives alike will appreciate this very nicely illustrated and quite comprehensive guide to architectural gems big and small throughout the five-borough area.

Hidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light. St. Martin’s/Griffin, paper, $19.99 (9780312673338).

The gardens of Paris offer an additional level of delight when visiting the French capital, and this hospitable guide takes you to places you might not have found on your own.

Interlink Guides (Interlink, paper).

  • Cadogan Guide: Bilboa and the Basque Lands. 5th ed. $21.95 (9781566568807).
  • Cadogan Guide: Marrakesh, Fez, and Rabat. 2d ed. $21.95 (9781566568203).
  • Café Life: London. $20 (9781566568852).
  • Cambridge: A Cultural and Literary History. $15 (9781566565417).
  • Jewish London. $17.95 (9781566569002).
  • The Roman Provence Guide. $20 (9781566568968).
  • The Rome Guide: Step by Step through the Art, Culture, and History of the Eternal City. $25 (9781566568364).
  • A Traveller’s History of Oxford. $14.95 (9781566564670).
  • A Traveller’s History of Poland. $14.96 (9781566566551).

This series of travel guides continues to exhibit flair of presentation, width of geographical and activity coverage, and general high-level informativeness.

Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints. By Mike Urban. Countryman, paper, $18.95 (9780881509991).

The book’s subtitle pretty much says it all: 75 three-page profiles of the best places that serve lobster, with each entry enticingly illustrated.

Museyon Guides (Museyon, paper).

  • Chronicles of Old Boston. $19.95 (9780984633401).
  • Chronicles of Old Las Vegas. $18.95 (9780984633418).
  • Chronicles of Old Paris. $19.95 (9780984633425).

Through the personal stories of many individuals who had strong affiliations with these three cities, the colorful history of each place is evoked.

National Geographic Guides (National Geographic, paper).

  • Guide to National Parks of the United States. 7th ed. $26 ((78142620869).
  • The 10 Best of Everything. 3d ed. $21.95 (9781426208676).
  • Walking London. $14.95 (9781426208706).
  • Walking New York. $14.95 (978142620873).
  • Walking Paris. $14.95 (978142620873).
  • Walking Rome. $14.95 (9781426208720).

Nat Geo guides are known for their exquiste illustrations, and these new entries in the line-up are no exceptions. The walking guides are portable and easy to follow and gorgeous to look at; the national parks guide is indispensable for pre-trip planning; and the 10-best book (international in scope) is a greatly informative and enjoyable guide to such things as best hamburgers, shopping avenues, cathedrals, and literary tours.

Oddball IllinoisOddball Illinois: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places. 2d ed. Chicago Review, paper, $16.95 (9781613740323).

Does Illinois strike you as a rather bland state? Prepare to be disabused of that notion when you investigate the pages of this fun guide to all kinds of quirky places to see in the Prairie State, from a Superman statue to a two-story outhouse.

A People’s Guide to Los Angeles. By Laura Pulido and others. Univ. of California, paper, $27.95 (9780520270817).

This is not your usual roundup of traditional tourist sites in L.A. but, instead, a unique and vastly informative guide to places of interest and importance in the struggles of race, labor, gender, and the environment.

Places of Faith: A Road Trip across America’s Religious Landscape. By Christopher P. Scheitle and Roger Finke. Oxford, $27.95 (9780199791521).

Handsomely formatted, this guide takes readers on a cross-country tour of churches, synagogues, Islamic centers, and other places of faith in small towns and rural areas.

A Route 66 Companion. Ed. by David King Dunaway. Univ. of Texas, paper, $19.95 (9780292726604).

What a fun book for pre- or post-trip reading: an anthology of fiction, poetry, memoir, and oral history about legendary Route 66, written by a great selection of outstanding writers, including Joan Didion, John Steinbeck, and Henry Miller.

Sterling Guides (Sterling/Anova).

  • The Cathedrals of England. $24.95 (9781849940290).
  • The Spirit of London. $24.95 (9781849940283).

These are two very special books: facsimiles of titles originally published in the 1930s and considered classics of travel literature, they may be used quite successfully as pre- or post-trip pleasure reading; after all, England’s capital city and cathedrals throughout the land have endured and will continue to do so!

Volunteer VacationsVolunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others. By Bill McMillon and others. 11th ed. Chicago Review, paper, $18.95 (9781569768419).

If you want to take a trip that is more than just a self-indulgence and want to do some good for people other than yourself, consult this comprehensive guide to organizations and outfits that cater to travelers’ interests in helping others.

The World’s Most Haunted Places. By Jeff Belanger. 2d ed. New Page, paper, $15.99 (9781601631930).

The supernatural in all its manifestations is increasingly popular, and to make a vacation out of taking in particularly haunted sites from all over the world, including the White House and the great ocean liner Queen Mary, can only be fun.