Book Review: Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010

Kerry Dexter's picture

Lonely Planet’s
Best in Travel 2010
Ellie Cobb, comissioning editor

Best of lists are by their nature meant to be argued over and discussed as much as they’re meant to be explored. This 2010 edition of Lonely Planet’s contribution to books of lists offers plenty of material for both approaches.

Top ten countries, top ten cities, and top ten regions come in for most coverage, and there are many other lists with shorter bits of information about their contents, including for example, vegetarian heavens and hells, places to walk your dog, and sites that birdwatchers will enjoy.

Given that different Lonely Planet writers wrote the longer articles -- they are bylined, the shorter ones are not -- it’s not surprising that the tone of description varied among countries. Several of the writers seem to be reaching a bit too hard for memorable analogies. That said, there is quite  lot of information  packed into short subjects on each destination, and while the analogies sometimes do not work, most of the time a good flavor of an individual place arises from the short, formatted four page description. The top ten countries include choices as varied as Germany, Morocco, and the USA. Regions spotlighted ranged from Alsace to Goa, and cities from Istanbul to Cork. Each includes a short overview and some quick facts about the place, a handful of classic experiences, a handful of unusual experiences, often what’s billed as a life defining experience or two, and a heads up on a couple of local festivals and events. All of this comes with several photographs. All of the photographs are good quality, but the choices, sometimes, seem meant to be snarky rather than representative. A shot of Everest from a base camp in Nepal is one thing, while a stack of beer kegs to represent Cork is quite another.

The snark factor comes through the shorter lists, as well, and there’s a strong hedonist/party vibe taking place in the choices and writing in many of those, too. Though their country and city guides don’t usually follow that focus, it’s a style Lonely Planet compendium books often use, and it seems to work for them. It is, however, something to keep in mind.

It is a book that will get you thinking and talking about travel, In a major change from earlier editions, which were oversized books, the 2010 version is a compact 5x7 format, just right for throwing in your back pack or carryon to pass around among travel companions  or read in short snippets on that long trip.

Kerry Dexter is the Music Editor for Wandering Educators.

Kerry's credits include CMT, the folk music magazine Dirty Linen, Songwriter’s Market, and The Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas. She also writes about the arts and creative practice at Music Road. You may reach her at music at wanderingeducators dot com