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Turning the Pages Down Book Lane

November 02, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Tired of the usual? Try "Cour-voisier's Book of the Best." Editor Lord Lichfield has collected the observations of those recognized as international travelers, i.e.: what's in vogue in the categories of food and drink, night life, health, beauty, sporting life, et al. The contents are subdivided by continents and what are considered the most stylish cities. A fun book to browse through, it is highlighted with names, addresses, phone numbers, prices and best time to visit (Salem House: $11.95).

You won't get lost and you'll see the most with Fodor's "Maine to Miami I-95" ($6.95). It's glove-compartment size and worth having along when traveling that north-south highway. There's a strip map on every page plus information on gas stations, rest stops, accommodations and much more. Fodor's also has available "Province of Quebec" ($8.95) and three "Fun In" series: "Maui," "Rio" ($6.95 each) and "New Orleans" ($5.95). Anyone of the latter four furnish lots of information and detailed answers for planning a vacation.

Sunset's "California Travel Guide" ($12.95) would be an excellent addition to your Poppy State reference shelf or on the dashboard. The color photos are impressive, the text informative. It presents an insight of then and now complete with sufficient maps on where to find places.

The "AA Book of Country Walks" is a thick three-ring-bound compendium that is explicit in text and portrait, such as maps in four colors. It contains excellent step-by-step directions around 205 of Britain's finest routes. Also included is a worthwhile four-color booklet of fauna, flower and wildlife. If only referred to in the comfort of an armchair, it's worth the $29.95 (W. W. Norton Distributors).

The dilemma of confusing on-and-off ramps can be solved with Sunset's "California Freeway Guide." Besides the detailed maps and diagrams of 2,816 exits, it includes 11,721 food and lodging locations plus hospitals, 24-hour gas stations, etc. Anyone who has faced the sometimes nerve-shattering challenge and maze of lane designs will find this cross-indexed guide a worthwhile investment for only $9.95.

"Elegant Small Hotels--A Connoisseur's Guide" by Pamela Lanier provides 108 listings with outlines of their services, facilities, amenities and costs. Descriptions and photos of their atmosphere and decor are also included. Travelers in the United States, who seek the extra comfort of hotels mostly refurbished to their past elegance, will find the guide satisfying. Lanier added a few new establishments that are equally as welcoming (John Muir: $12.95).

"Arizona--The Land and People" edited by Tom Miller aptly captures the blend of that state's natural beauty and human history. With historical vignettes and more than 150 photographs, many in color, the book explores its deserts, canyons and mesas. It's an amazing portrait of a state of great heritage (University of Arizona: $29.95).

Frommer's has a few more publications available on how to save a buck. "Hawaii on $45 a Day" ($10.95) and the "Dollarwise Guides" to "Italy" ($11.95) and "Cruises" ($12.95). All are above average and offer information sometimes overlooked by other sources.

Whether cafe or haute cuisine , the city of cable cars offers an international variety of dining pleasures. "Best Restaurants--San Francisco and Bay Area" by Jacqueline Killeen (et al.) selects nearly 200 that the visitor or resident should find most delightful. Cooking styles, quality and creativity including decor, service and many menus are detailed (101 Productions: $4.95).

It is not surprising that the Sardine Factory in Monterey was one of the 275 restaurants chosen by Fodor's "View to Dine by Around the World" ($9.95). Anyone who enjoys a romantic atmosphere, views and gastronomic delights will want to browse this unusual guide complete with lots of photos, detailed text, prices, chefs' names, etc. It's a good plan-ahead reference for travelers.

"Light Tackle Fishing Guide to North America" by Richard Shaw would be great for the amateur or serious angler. Especially for those who travel a lot and probably passed a few great spots to drop a line and lollygag while waiting for the big one to bite. In 436 pages of 837 listings, the guide lays it all out from the where and when, accommodations, supplies, type of fishing, etc., to 54 maps, 31 photos and a cross-referenced index. If your tackle shop doesn't have it, send $14.95 (plus $2 handling) to Water Press, 218 California Ave., Suite 204, Reno, Nev. 89509.

In the Oct. 19 column an incorrect publisher was given for "Trail of the First Wagons Over the Sierra Nevada" by Charles K. Graydon. The correct publisher is Patrice Press.

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