Lonely Planet publishes quite an array of books, and not just travel guides. I recently wrote about their books for kids, and their travel guides remain very popular, but they have branched out into coffee table books and other really interesting travel-related books.
Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World starts us off as a book brimming with images for your senses. In addition to the colorful photos, you can sense the sounds, smells, and feelings that your eyes can’t quite experience on their own. Page after page of gorgeous photography will leave you speechless and aching to travel, pick up a camera, or both. There is very little text on the pages. Photos from all over the world, through all seasons, and in the oceans, show off the splendor of our planet. Divided into sections with names like “Origins,” “Untamed,” and “Transformation,” the book shows you over 200 large-format images to celebrate Lonely Planet’s 40th birthday.
Celebrate nature, wildlife, and the masterpieces of Man as you page through this book. Since it is mostly full of photography, it will appeal to people of all ages. The book itself is textured on the outside, and its partial dust jacket almost doubles as a poster. Also, don’t miss the index in the back. It gives more information about all of the photos, explaining what you’re seeing. Then look back at the photos. Watch: You’ll find yourself catching your breath.
If you’re looking for a great coffee table book to inspire your next actual vacation or virtual one, Great Escapes is a fantastic choice. Filled with 75 different destinations, there is something to fit how you need to escape. City jaunts, spa vacations, adventure, culture, beaches… Everyone has a different definition of an escape, and has different ways to unwind. If you’re looking for stimulation, try partying in Hvar, Croatia. If you want romance, some quiet time together in the Lakes District in England will do the trick. If your whole family is running off together, the Northland of New Zealand is a perfect fit (this one I know from personal experience—the forests there are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen). There are even a few options for those on a shoestring (though their definition of shoestring and mine are probably a bit different).
For each escape, the book gives a map, a list of essential experiences in the area, basic travel information (such as best time of year to visit, things to be sure to pack, and budget), planning, and even a list of books and movies and things that are related to the place in question. These books can help you bide your time until you leave, or will help fill you with the feeling of a place that you may never visit.
1000 Ultimate Adventures will fill your travel wish list with adventures all over the world. From hot air ballooning in Turkey to driving on sand dunes in Qatar to floating on your back in the Dead See to seeing the Northern Lights in Norway, there seems to be an adventure around every corner of the planet. The book is separated into different kinds of adventure interests, such as mountain biking, zip-lining, surfing, running, caving, and even city hikes. All in all, there are 1000 different places listed, along with many stunning photos to give you a sense of some of the places. Rather than being a coffee table book, though, this one is compact and easy to slip in your bag for reading on the go.
Branching out to publish books that have some more meat in them (see what I did there?), Lonely Plant is publishing books such as A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure, & Discovery on the Road, which is a collection of essays by chefs, novelists, and food writers. There are no photos in this book, but the pages are thick and shiny, and this unobtrusive paperback could double as a self-defense weapon, or just work up a good appetite. It’s that heavy.
Since food is such an important part of our experience of a place, and it varies so much by destination, reading about the food side of travel can really give you a better sense of a place. Sure, you can’t taste the items yourself by reading a book, but it can certainly whet your appetite and help you decide where to travel next, or to seek out a wider variety of restaurants or recipes closer to home.
Lonely Planet’s original bread and butter, the travel guide, is still ubiquitous among the books in their catalog. I got a good look at their Alaska guide. Complete with a pull-out map (which isn’t detailed enough to plan an extensive or road trip, but enough for general planning and likely good enough if you go on a cruise), this guide starts listing the 21 top experiences of Alaska, and then gives you a run down of the basic information you’ll need, such as climate, prices, and transportation. Then it lists a few potential itineraries for the non-cruise-goers. The rest of the book is divided up by region of the state with all of the information you’d expect in a travel guide, with plenty of color.
They, of course, have guides for every corner of the world, and of the United States. If you can only have one guide book with you at a destination, Lonely Planet’s guides are a good choice. (Years ago, on the aforementioned New Zealand trip, I brought my Lonely Planet guide book, and it served me very well.)
Prices of all of Lonely Planet’s books vary, but there is something for yourself and for every one of your travel-obsessed friends and family in their catalog of fantastic books. All of them have high production quality, and the content is inspiring and informative. Where will you travel next?
Note: I received copies of these books for review purposes.