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Going by the Book

March 16, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

If you're traveling to England, take along a copy of "The Good Pub Guide--1986," edited by Alisdair Aird. It will make it easier to find a place to eat, imbibe and stay overnight. More than 1,200 of the pubs were personally selected by Aird; 2,000 or so more were recommended by readers. Each is given a brief description (Hodder & Stoughton: $17.95).

For 24 hours in the spring of 1985, 100 journalists from 20 countries documented "A Day in the Life of Japan." People at work or play, in the city or outlying areas, are captured in 300 color and black-and-white photos. It's a beautiful result worth space in your travel library (Collins: $39.95).

The early history of Europe is presented professionally in "Megalithic Brittany" by Audry Burl. The guide takes you to more than 350 ancient sites and monuments. It's filled with important data, sketches and photos. The text and maps are cross-indexed (Thames & Hudson: $18.95).

B&B enthusiasts may want to add these guides to their collection: "The Caribbean Bed & Breakfast Book" (Eastwoods: $9.95) by Kathy Strong, and "Bed & Breakfast B.C. Canada" (Town and Country: $9.95) by Helen Burich and Pauline Scoten. Both guides offer a bundle of information. The latter guide includes a few sketches that do not help the gray computer-printout text.

"Pacific Marine Museums and Data Centers" should please aficionados of the sea. The guide lists many places where artifacts, memorabilia, oceanography data of past and present can be viewed. Photos or sketches of most of the museums are included with a brief explanatory text of each (Flying Cloud: $19.95).

For sightseeing, where to stay, eat, etc., Fodor's has three above-average 1986 guides--"Bahamas" ($6.95), "Mexico" ($13.95) and "American Cities on a Budget" ($12.95). The drawings, mixed with refreshing breaths of white space, make the informative text easy to read.

For more fun with the children, Fielding's brand new "Family Vacation U.S.A." ($12.95) by Diane Torrens might be the answer. It lists more than 100 resorts, their amenities, accommodations, costs and nearby see-and-do suggestions. The "what's-it-look-like" photos are good and the 10 maps will pinpoint the area. Three more Fielding's for 1986 by Margaret Zellers are "Caribbean" ($12.95), "Economy Caribbean" ($8.95) and "Discover Europe Off the Beaten Track" ($12.95).

The 1986 "Let's Go" guidebooks are available. Many readers report them unbeatably accurate and comprehensive. The Harvard Student Agencies update them each year, holding up printing to ensure accuracy, if necessary. Their "Europe" is $10.95; the following are $9.95 each: "Britain and Ireland," "France," "Italy," "Greece-Turkey," "California and Pacific Northwest," "Spain-Portugal-Morocco," "Israel-Egypt," "Mexico" and "U.S.A."

F-stops, lighting, film, what camera is best are among the many questions answered in "The Basic Book of Photography" by Tom Grimm. As a professional and teacher, Grimm covers the full spectrum of photography, including breakthroughs of electronic gadgetry. Beginners or old hands will find the text a bible of photo-taking, enhanced by examples, sketches and technical data. It's a bargain at $8.95 (New American Library).

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