By BETH J. HARPAZ
Whether you're looking for a gift for an armchair traveler or a frequent flier, you can't go wrong with a book.
Booksellers from three travel bookstores - Distant Lands (www.distantlands.com/ in Pasadena, Calif.), Globe Corner (www.globecorner.com/ in Cambridge, Mass.) and Idlewild Books (idlewildbooks.com/ in New York City) - offered their recommendations for travel books that make good holiday gifts, from coffee-table books filled with gorgeous photos, to travelogues of long-ago adventures in faraway places, to practical guidebooks for every type of traveler.
Among the new books out this season, Angel Castellanos, manager of Distant Lands, recommends "100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go" by Susan Van Allen; Lonely Planet's "1000 Ultimate Experiences," National Geographic's "Food Journeys of A Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe," and "Wonders of the World," from Life. The "Wonders of the World" book's many photos include seven vintage prints that can be detached and framed.
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Pat Carrier, owner of the Globe Corner, says his customers have been very enthusiastic about "World Heritage Sites: A Complete Guide to 878 UNESCO World Heritage Sites"; "Sites of Antiquity," about ancient architecture in the Middle East/Mediterranean, and in a new hardcover format from the Blue Guide series; "How to Read Buildings: A Crash Course in Architectural Styles," perfect for the traveler interested in architecture, and "The Map As Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography."
And if the traveler on your list loves classic travelogues, Carrier recommends "Skeptical Romancer: Selected Travel Writings" by W. Somerset Maugham, a new hardcover collection of Maugham's travel writing; as well as "Stanford's Travel Classics," a series of 10 books reprinted by London's legendary Stanford map store, including Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad" and "Travels in the Interior of Africa," first published in 1799 by a young man from Scotland, Mungo Park.
David Del Vecchio, owner of Idlewild Books, says his favorite "new" book is also a re-released classic, "The Way of the World," by Nicolas Bouvier (published by NYRB Classics), about a trip from Geneva to the Khyber Pass in a rundown Fiat in 1953.
Idlewild specializes in putting together customized gift packs for individual itineraries, and like other travel bookstores, it's a place where you'll find niche brands of travel guidebooks that may not be available in chain stores or that you may not know enough about to buy from online-only booksellers.
Del Vecchio offered these suggestions for buying guidebooks for different types of travelers. For students, he recommends the Let's Go series; for families, Fodor's; for backpackers and adventurers, Lonely Planet; for sophisticated types, Wallpaper Guides and Luxe Guides; for luxury travel, Michelin; and for folks interested in learning about local culture as well as things to do, Rough Guides (for countries) and Time Out (for cities). For off-the-beaten path destinations like North Korea or Turkmenistan, Del Vecchio recommends Bradt Guides. And for the rest of us - your average American middle-class travelers who want good recommendations for basic sightseeing - Del Vecchio suggests Eyewitness Guides.