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A Clean Sweep of the Shelf

It’s first-of-the-year housecleaning time again. Here are brief notes on a handful of worthwhile books I never quite got to in 1994:

FRANCE by Daniel Robinson and Leanne Logan (Lonely Planet, $21.95 paper); HUNGARY by Steve Fallon (Lonely Planet, $15.95 paper) and SWITZERLAND by Mark Honan (Lonely Planet, $14.95 paper).

Though the idea of travelers to such mainstream European destinations as France and Switzerland needing a “Travel Survival Kit” (as the guides are blurbed) may seem a bit silly, it’s good to see Lonely Planet’s obsession with detail, appreciation for cultural fine points and budget-mindedness applied to these nations. Hungary, though eminently civilized, and considerably more up-to-date than some of its neighbors in Eastern Europe, does still seem rather exotic to many American travelers (that language, for one thing), so “survival” might be a bit more of a concern. Again, Lonely Planet does the job well.

*

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GENE KILGORE’S RANCH VACATIONS, third edition, by Gene Kilgore (John Muir Publications, $19.95 paper).

This hefty volume, with a plump insert of postcard-pretty photos, lists and describes hundreds of resort and guest ranches across the country, as well as fly-fishing camps and cross-country skiing facilities. Invaluable for the rurally inclined vacationer.

*

GUIDE TO ANCIENT NATIVE AMERICAN SITES by Michael S. Durham (Globe Pequot, $15.95 paper).

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Nearly 150 places important to American Indians, in 29 states, are described here, with practical details attached. The author has a historical bent, and effortlessly weaves tidbits of illuminating background information into his listings.

*

HIDDEN FLORIDA; THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE, fourth edition, by Stacy Ritz, et al. (Ulysses Press, $14.95 paper).

There’s not a lot of style in this jam-packed, vaguely breathless introduction to the Sunshine State, but it’s hard to imagine that the authors have missed a worthwhile corner of Florida, as they list and briefly appraise everything from downtown shops and well-known inns to secluded beaches and obscure museums.

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*

HOW TO FLY FOR KIDS! YOUR FUN-IN-THE-SKY AIRPLANE COMPANION by Natalie Windsor (Corkscrew Press/Globe Pequot, $8.95 paper).

Games, puzzles, airport and airplane facts and fancies, and more, designed to keep airborne small fry occupied, at least until lunch is served or the cartoons come on. The text is too complicated to hold the attention of younger fliers, and older ones might prefer Game Tendo (or listening to Megadeath on the Walkman), but I’d guess that the 7-to-11 set might be genuinely diverted by at least some of the contents. (Ten pages of pointers for parents of traveling children are included.)

*

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THE LION IN THE MOON; TWO AGAINST THE SAHARA by Babs Suzanne Harrison and Staefan Eduard Rada (Rainbow Books, Inc., $19.95 paper).

A writer and a well-traveled academic meet on a blind date, and a few weeks later find themselves crossing the Sahara together in a four-wheel-drive cruiser. This is their first-person story. It’s a great tale (told in alternating voices)--even if notes of gee-whiz and of I-really-know-my-way-around, respectively, are apparent here and there. (The traveling companions obviously got along well; they are now married.)

*

POP CULTURE LANDMARKS; A TRAVELER’S GUIDE by George Cantor (Visible Ink Press, $17.95 paper).

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Graceland, the James Dean Memorial, the Mario Lanza Museum, the Jack Kerouac Memorial, Bourbon Street, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, the Bing Crosby Library . . . . Some 300 sites, either important in themselves to modern American culture or commemorating people or events that were, are described and listed here. Fun to read, even if you don’t use it as a trip-planner.

*

SICILY by Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls (Cadogan Books/Globe Pequot, $12.95 paper).

Thoughtful, detailed description of and information about this fascinating corner of the Mediterranean. Sometimes literary in tone and always well-crafted, this book upholds the usual Cadogan standards.

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*

For information on more travel books, see L9.


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