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Going by the Book

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

From budget to deluxe, almost 2,000 star-rated hotels are listed in "Traveler's Guide to France," edited by Jackie Rathband. The text is supported by explanatory symbols and maps. General information vignettes are sprinkled between the suggestions and advice. Automobile Assn. of England is the publisher, and it's distributed to bookstores by the British Tourist Authority for $11.95 (U.S.).

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If you want to share in the trials and tribulations of worldwide travel by 300 women who contributed their observations, "Half the Earth" is for you. Harassment, crucial experiences, safety, etc., dominate the text that does, however, offer bits of cultural and pertinent details of the 70 countries discussed. The general information for a traveling woman presents some self-help tips. Edited by Miranda Davies, Laura Longrigg, Lucinda Montefiore and Natania Janz. (Pandora: about $10.)

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If you have the extra bucks and would enjoy visiting places of luxury, then read Steven B. Stern's "Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World." It describes 80 of the most posh resorts and their amenities, including a highlight of their best feature--i.e. sports, food, service, accommodations, etc. Singles, couples or families will find the information useful in finding a place in which to live it up. (Stern's Travel Guides: $14.95.)

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"Camping Alaska and Canada's Yukon," by Mike and Marilyn Miller, is a great motorist's handbook to those northern campgrounds and roadways. One with the spirit of adventure shouldn't get lost with all the detailed maps and explanations. Out-of-the-way towns, ferry routes and much more are well described and should make exploration easy and fun. (Pacific Search: $10.95.)

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Get the most details on where to hang your hat overnight in lodgings built as early as AD 1200 from "The Ordinance Survey Guide to Historic Houses in Britain." Peter Furtada aptly describes the availabilities of more than 180 restored homes with four-color photos, including location maps. It's an absorbing compilation of these architectural delights. (W. W. Norton: $14.95.)

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The newest Frommer's touring guides to "Egypt," "Florence," "Venice" and "Paris" ($8.95 each) are quality presentations of practical information. The maps are above average, the occasional photos inspirational and the text expertly interwoven with interesting trivia a traveler would find worthwhile.

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About everything you would want to know about America's sunniest state can be found in "Arizona Handbook" by Bill Weir. It has an abundance of photos supported by well-detailed text. There are enough lodging-and-where-to-eat suggestions, including local site information, to start you off in the right direction. (Moon: $10.95.)

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It only has three photos, but "The Insider's Guide to Santa Fe," by Bill Jamison, is a condensed revelation of history, sites and events. The maps will get you around, and the eat-and-stay places are sufficient. It's a good primer with commercial overtones. (Howard Common Press: $8.95.)

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Barron's has four super "Talking Business Guides" in "French," by Beppie le Gal; "German," by Henry Strutz; "Italian," by Frank Rakas, and "Spanish," by T. Bruce Fryer and Hugo J. Faria ($6.95 each). The pocket-size guides are translated, i.e., from French-to-English and from English-to-French, etc., and contain more than 3,000 terms related to almost any kind of business.

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Just when you think you've discovered the perfect vacation place, Reader's Digest publishes a captivating and informative guide, "Off the Beaten Path." It describes more than 1,000 scenic and uncrowded places in America. The text is laced with historical and informative trivia, including four-color photos and maps, all of which make the $23.95 tab worth it.

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"A Guide to Central Europe," by Richard Bassett, can be described as the recall of a vacation. The problems with taxis, luggage, etc., will help the reader avoid them. The homey dissertation is a tad verbose, but does furnish some good information. (Viking: $19.95.)

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