Lonely Planet, had a brand new edition of their guide to Nova Scotia coming out in April of 2011. So we ordered, Lonely Planet Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island and got planning.
While the book was well thumbed through during the planning process and extremely helpful at allowing us to fit as much as we could on our 5 short days in Canada, what surprised me was how much I loved reading this book in a more traditional cover to cover fashion while on the trip.
Now I have worked with many patrons who enjoy reading cookbooks this way, cover to cover, for leisure reading without ever cooking a recipe, but when dealing with my personal leisure reading, I tend to use titles like travel books and cookbooks on a more as need basis for reference purposes.
But on this trip, I surprised myself by reading this book in its entirety (but not necessarily in a linear fashion) and loving the experience. So the first point I want to make in this review is that no matter how self aware you are about your personal reading tastes, there are always new areas into which you can grow. I am totally using this experience as the antidote to my patrons who say that they have read everything we have that they will enjoy and don't like anything else we have to offer.
Back to me personally though...
There were days when we were driving for hours and while I was using the book to plan where we should take lunch breaks or what we would be doing the next day, that took only a few minutes. As I was paging through for specific information, I found myself lingering on other pages. I specifically loved the last third of the book which was general information about all of the Atlantic Provinces. There were statistical items, customs, history, and anecdotes.
Surprisingly, I found the sections on the provinces I was not visiting, Newfoundland and Labrador the most interesting.
The point here is I have created a new leisure reading interest for myself, travel guidebooks. But I need to be specific here. It is not every guidebook I would enjoy. I like the companies who focus more on the narrative in their books. So the appeal here for me is the story about the place as much as what you can do there. Lonely Planet is known for this.
Lonely Planet is also known for their off the beaten path information and irreverent attitude. So you need to not mind these in order to enjoy their books. So readers may be turned off by the style and narrative voice.
In general, I will now seek out more guides for places I would like to visit, not just the places I know I am going to visit.
Readalikes: We also spent some time in Maine on this trip and used the Maine Moon Handbook. I also enjoyed their narrative structure. I learned quite a bit about the regional slang and history of Maine, especially the less populace parts. In general, readers who like Lonely Planet Guides as a leisure reading option will also enjoy Moon Handbooks.
There are some great travel writers who I would also suggest to fans of the Lonely Planet travel guides both in content and style:
- No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain
- Anything by Bill Bryson, but especially A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.
- Anything by Paul Theroux, but NoveList suggests starting with Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown.
- Neal Wyatt's great article on Travel Writing in NoveList also suggested Jason Elliot and Pico Iyer. I have not tried either author before, but I will look into them.
Finally, if you want to do some hard core armchair travel, check out Nancy Pearl's Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers (we have a copy you could borrow at the BPL RA desk) or this post I did recently on Great Travel Books.