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Leafing Down the Travel Book Lane

April 26, 1987|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Seattle must be the place to visit, if you consider the residents' reasons for living there, i.e., 89% for its natural beauty, 66% for the parks and recreation, etc. You can check out the other reasons in "The Seattle Guidebook" by Archie Satterfield. There are enough maps, vacation information and see-do-and-eat suggestions to last for several visits. The historic vignettes put you in closer touch, and if you're really interested, he lists past fire chiefs, mayors, et al (Pacific Search: $9.95).

Three "Coping With" guides are available: "Japan" by John Randle; "Russia" by Robert Daglish, and "France" by Fay Sharman. Travelers to those countries should find the investment worthwhile. A few unusual look-out-fors: Remove windshield wipers when leaving a car, carry enough money to avoid arrest, and know when to speak or not to speak (Basil Blackwell: $7.95 each).

A browser or serious collector heading for either country will enjoy the trip more with Peter B. Manston's "Flea Markets--Antique Fairs and Auctions" for "Germany" or "France." Tourists can find souvenirs easier, and decorators will find the guides to be good sources for hundreds of availabilities (Travel Keys/St. Martins: $9.95 each).

Described as a virtually new book, the "Blue Guide--Switzerland" offers excellent information as comprehensive as all their other guides (W. W. Norton: $18.95).

"The Jewish Travel Guide," edited by Alan M. Tigay, is a well-done guide to the world's Jewish communities, sights, accommodations, events, etc., including bits of history. It puts you in touch with 48 cities around the globe in good text but unimpressive photos (Doubleday: $10.95).

If bought as a pair, Rand McNally's guidebooks, "America's Favorite National Parks" ($5.95) by Michael Frome and "Great National Park Vacations--1987" ($10.95), assembled in cooperation with the National Park Foundation, would be perfect for anyone hankering to hit the road. The first describes America's 16 most popular parks, complete with maps and color photos. The second outlines the what, where and how to do it in these premier parks.

Almost everybody is aware that our capital hosts embassies from countries around the globe. You can learn more about these 133 nations' working offices with "Washington D.C.'s Embassies of the World." Donald C. Dilworth, with photos and text, outlines five walking tours, including a directory and historical notes about the buildings and settings (Communications Press: $7.95).

The publisher describes "Jewish Travel Guide 1987," edited by Sidney Lightman, as the "up-to-date guide for the wandering Jew." It has no maps or photos, but the information should help the world traveler find synagogues, kosher restaurants, etc. Advertisements interrupt the text, but probably help to hold the tab at $9.50 (Jewish Chronicle--Sepher Hermon).

Karen and Terry Whitehall could help spin your wheels better in "Europe by Bike." You can pedal-power your way on 18 tours ranging from 100 to 806 miles, with stopovers in ancient towns and romantic villages. There's lots of camping and cultural information, along with notes about each region, including terrain challenges. The tips on gear, visas, accommodations and maps are good, while the photos are so-so (Mountaineers: $10.95).

"Shopping in China--Arts, Crafts and the Unusual" by Roberta Stalberg covers 12 popular tourist destinations in China. The sophisticated shopper will find the historical and manufacturing details about the various merchandise invaluable. Maps include names and locations of stores, their wares, addresses, phone numbers and business hours (China Books and Periodicals: $9.95).

"Zagat's Chicago Restaurant Survey 1987" is a collection of opinions and references to more than 500 places where you can tuck a napkin. A mix of 1,200 people evaluated the eateries on a scale of good, so-so or poor for the food, decor, service and cost. Each addressed entry has a 30- to 50-word dissertation, including easy-to-read rating symbols for each one. Visitor or native will find it an excellent reference (Zagat Survey: $9.95).

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