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Going by the Book

December 14, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Besides many hints on package trips, planning, safety, ski terms and lessons, Fodor's "Ski Resorts of North America" ($14.95) covers a wide selection of resorts and details on facilities. The how-to-get-there, types of accommodations, costs, restaurants and getting around information is excellent. The guide also outlines seasonal events, day-care facilities and nighttime fun. The maps put you on track, and the photos are sufficient to inspire the snow bunny or powder bum.

John Thaxton has gathered together most of the information needed to enjoy our natural heritage in "Lodgings & Cabins--State & National Parks." Three hundred and forty six parks, recreation areas, monuments and forests are covered. Park sizes, flora, fauna and special features also are included. The black-and-white photos do a good job of defining each environment. The text is arranged alphabetically by state and within each state by park. The book would be very useful for planning outdoor vacations (Burt Franklin: $8.95).

"Land of the Incas" has superb color photos by Hans Silvester, with text by Jacques Soustelle. The present, surrounded by edifices and reminders of the past, reflects a tradition that clings to a way of life. It's a larger-size, worthwhile reference book (Thames and Hudson: $14.95).

The compact Blue Guides are considered among the best for thorough and fascinating sources of information. Their ninth edition for "Scotland" by John Tomes maintains the reputation. It includes notes on culture, history and art, including biographies, getting around, where to stay and eat, what to see, plus many other tips. The reader will find that it covers a bit more than the average guide (W. W. Norton: $19.95).

"Country Inns of the West Coast--California, Oregon and Washington" by Julianne Belote offers a cut-above-the-usual information on 186 specially selected full-service inns and B&Bs. After visiting and evaluating several hundred, it is obvious that Belote's choices were not made from quick impressions. The line sketches are simple but capture the scene, while the maps place you in the general location (Globe Pequot: $10.95).

If heritage links you to the old sod, or if you would like to view the charms of remote or ancient settings, "The Irish Village" is highly recommended. It features 150 outstanding color photos by Robin Morrison with commentaries by Christopher Fitz-Simon. It's a mixture of people and places, past and present, set in the warmth and diversity of a jewel-like landscape (Henry Holt: $19.95).

Put a copy of "Across the Dial" in your glove compartment so you can tune in your type of local radio stations as you travel the United States. Call letters, frequency and format of every American AM and FM station are listed alphabetically by city. And, as a bonus, it also includes all the TV stations around your stopover. For a copy, send $6.95 to Broadcasting Publications, 173 DeSales St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

With Fielding's "Peoples Republic of China--1987" by Ruth Lor Malloy and Priscilla Liang Hsu under your arm, most any other guide could be superfluous. It contains all the basic information necessary to make your trip successful. However, you will have to look elsewhere for pronunciation help or inspiring photos (Morrow: $13.95).

Noted for their quality information and vivid color photography, Insight Guides have three more available: "Crossing America" ($15.95), "Israel" ($16.95) and "France" ($16.95). As additions to a travel library or as excellent references, they are invaluable (Prentice Hall).

Great for preparations, the serious traveler will want a copy of "Before You Go to Great Britain: A Resource Directory and Planning Guide." The $25 tab is a bit high for the one-time traveler, but it does furnish a broad spectrum of the material available. A commendable compilation by James W. and Shirley N. Brown (Shoe String Press).

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