The Travel Book
The A to Z format allowed us to view the world with a pleasing kind of egalitarianism, giving equal weight to superpowers like the United States of America and less high-profile nations like Burkina Faso or Belarus.Roz Hopkins, The Travel Book
Author: The Lonely Planet Team
Published: First edition, 2004; latest edition, 2016
Geographic Area: Worldwide
Original Language: English
Here it is, folks: THE Travel Book! The Travel Book to End All Travel Books (not really)! Found this one at Half-Price the other day and just had to have it on my shelf.
The Travel Book is like the straight-edge sibling to the rebellious Atlas Obscura I posted about last week. They complement each other perfectly.
This large book, brainchild of Lonely Planet, features two pages on every single country in the world. This includes the official nations as recognized by the UN (193 at the time of this post), as well as several other places that are not technically sovereign, but might as well be. For example, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are all part of China, but they have such unique cultures and colonial influences that they are given their own sections. The same goes for Puerto Rico or Greenland. You will even find a section on Antarctica!
The copy I picked up is actually the first edition, which is slightly dated; published in 2004, it does not feature the country of South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011. The most recent edition was published in 2016, and can be found in the link below. While new nations come and go, the vast majority of the information in this book is timeless, and will inspire you at any rate.
Each two-page section features a number of photos that capture the soul of the country, such as its people, celebrations, towns, cities, natural beauty, and historical monuments. There is a column describing the following information: best times to visit; essential experiences; what to read, listen, watch, eat, and drink; a national saying; trademarks; surprises; and summations of the nation’s culture.
American readers might chuckle at The Travel Book’s section on us. The Essential Experiences section features wonderful things like “crunching New England leaves in Autumn” and “touring Ancestral Puebloan ruins in Southwestern deserts,” and there are gorgeous photos showing off the natural beauty of our Yosemite National Park. Having said that, there are also less flattering (but not less true) bits of info: under Trademarks, the book lists “loud people, gun lovers, and dangerous cities;” under Surprises, “half the citizens don’t vote.”
The writers at Lonely Planet did a fine job of giving equal weight to all the countries of the world. Each nation gets the same two pages, the same amount of info to showcase their good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. From the Blue Mosque of Afghanistan to the pungwes of Zimbabwe, you will learn valuable insight about the world around you. Like the Roman philosopher St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
If you do choose to purchase the book using the link I’ve provided below, I get a small kickback. Having said that, I personally like to browse for books at my local book store.