The Travel Book Offers a World of Reading

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For those of us who want to tour the world but might be short of funds or time, a newly published coffee-table book may help quench that thirst for travel for a while -- or, perhaps, make it even worse. This past October, Lonely Planet published The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World, a comprehensive pictorial offering key facts and cultural insights on 230 countries, arranged in an A-Z format. For readers interested in "Getting Under the Skin" of each destination, the 448-page world tour, which features colorful and inspiring photos, includes recommendations about what to read, listen to, watch, eat, and drink to gain a better understanding of the culture.

The "Read" recommendation for each country is, of course, a key ingredient. "Reading is obviously a fundamental route to understanding a culture and place, and we hope that the reader will get lost in the books we suggest," said The Travel Book's editor, Roz Hopkins.

Not surprisingly, narrowing down the list of prospective titles for each country was a not-so-simple task. "We offered all Lonely Planet staff the opportunity to contribute to this book by writing a profile on a country they are passionate about," Hopkins said. "We had a fairly loose brief to these authors, which was that they should try to evoke the spirit of the destination by selecting their personal highlights of a trip there, and making suggestions for one or two books, films, and pieces of music which captured the essence of the place in their view."

In terms of the criteria, Hopkins said that the goal was to cover a wide array of genres. "We included suggested reading that spans heavyweight historical texts to illustrated books, autobiographies, or guidebooks," she explained. "You can't seek to represent a whole country in one book, so the idea was to present a particular perspective (and preferably one that was not addressed in the other text on the page), which sheds light on the nature of a country or its people. Ultimately, the choice was subjective -- the author's favorite book, something which encapsulated the country for them."

For a downloadable PDF of all the suggested book titles in The Travel Book, provided courtesy of Lonely Planet, click here. -- David Grogan