Here’s my full written review…
This is the new smaller format edition of Lonely Planet’s previous coffee table giant, but it’s still a doorstoppingly thick brick of a book! It has to be 900 pages to give even the tiniest snapshot of every country in the world, (plus a few territories etc). However being a Lonely Planet publication, it is done with style and panache which makes this the ultimate inspirational guide for the armchair traveller, and a stepping off point for further research for travellers seeking something different.
Each country is given just four pages and they’re listed alphabetically, which makes for interesting contrasts as you flick through – Denmark is next to Djbouti, Saudi Arabia is followed by Scotland for instance. All the entries follow a similar format with some introductory text, and bullet points under several headings, such as ‘Essential experiences’ and ‘Getting under the skin’, plus some stats on sidebars and a rather tiny map.
The real stars though are the 1140 photographs. They’ve used all of Lonely Planet’s resources to pull together an amazing array, and as the book’s aim is not purely touristic, few of the photographs are traditional postcard shots. Nearly half the photos feature people and their lives, as well as costumes, carnivals, breathtaking landscapes and brilliant architecture (particularly little churches). Seeing all the little island states and lesser known countries in all their glory is what it’s all about. It’s not done without humour though – one of the photos chosen to epitomise England is of the deckchairs on Brighton Beach by the pier.
Where would I go having looked at this book, given that I normally go no further than France or Italy? Well if I could handle the heat it would be Aruba, off Venezuela, which looked a gorgeous mix of cultures. Or perhaps Madagascar which has lemurs and looks lovely and lush, and every time I see a photo of Petra in Jordan, I say I must go there one day. This is a lovely book, it’s not one I would personally have bought for myself, (mine was a review copy), however I am delighted to have it, and it would make a great gift. 7/10
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Source: Review copy from Radio Oxford. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Travel Book Mini (Lonely Planet Travel Book) by Lonely Planet, 2013 edition.