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Down the Book Lane

September 27, 1987|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Credit Jack Williams for the excellent information in his guidebook "The Magnificent Peninsula--Mexico's Baja California." A first-timer thumbing the pages will want to explore the more than 2,500 miles of roadways through this land of rugged beauty sprinkled with towns and villages in areas of historic note. It's an in-depth presentation of where to stay, camp, fish and launch boats, and includes maps, wildlife data, geology and much more. To get a feel of this 700-mile land of enchantment, nearly surrounded by water, send $14.95 (handling included) to H. J. Williams Publishing, P.O. Box 203, Sausalito, Calif. 94966.

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Two four-color, large maps are included with "Invitation to France" that will help pinpoint Jim and Emmy Humberd's dissertation of their travels. The text is presented in a conversational style with briefs on the many sights and places they enjoyed. It covers almost 60,000 miles of their exploration, through environs of cities, towns and villages, and touches upon history and current architecture. Send $6.95 (plus $1.25 handling) to Em-J Publishing, 41 Marbella Drive, Rancho Mirage, Calif. 92270.

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For a better handle on the maze of travel decisions and challenges that make the differences between a memorable or miserable trip, try "Tips for the Savvy Traveler" by Deborah Burns and Sarah Clarkson. Coping with jet lag, lodgings, tipping, money, health, socializing and much more is discussed in this easy-to-read compilation. Questions one might have for almost anywhere in the world are answered in a nuts-and-bolts approach (Storey: $4.95).

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With a little extra push, "The Ordinance Survey Guide to Castles in Britain" will fit in your pocket. But don't let the size stop you from picking up a copy, because it's a 253-page trove of information starting from the time of stone-slingers, Saxons, Normans, Romans, etc. (W. W. Norton: $14.95).

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"Insiders' Guide--France," edited by Robert C. Fisher, covers a lot of bases and some itineraries. For its handy-to-take-along size, it's surprisingly complete with many tips on seeing, doing, staying and eating, and includes visits to several cooking schools (Crown: $10.95).

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"London for the Independent Traveler" by Ruth Humleker provides an excellent helping hand to self-guided tours. It presents the opportunity to explore out-of-the-way sights, including romantic alleys lined with shops a tourist may not be aware of. With the selection of maps, directions and timetables, you'll see more on your own (MarLor: $12.95).

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The safest traveler is a prudent traveler. That's the theme of "The International Safe Travel Guide" by Robert C. Downes and William J. Bartrian. It's an opportunity to learn the rules and use them, including a review of the old ones, i.e., don't flash your money, avoid trouble spots and many more. For only $6.95, you'll obtain excellent advice on protecting yourself and personal property here and abroad--on land, sea and in the air (Betterway Publications).

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Even if you're not a plunger, the "Diver's Guide to the Caribbean and the Bahamas" furnishes great information for anyone planning a vacation to that water paradise. The 500 captivating color photos and maps put you in the middle of the scene. It's a good bet that you'll reach for a suitcase before you finish the guide (Publisher's Group West: $19.95).

If you can yodel, you may enjoy the echoes from Alpine meadows, tumbling glaciers, jagged peaks and dramatic views even more with a copy of "Walking Switzerland--The Swiss Way" by Marcia and Philip Lieberman. The guide describes all kinds of paths, from the very easy to the very challenging. Many of the paths are surrounded by dramatic scenery and towns where rented vacation apartments can be used for accommodations instead of just camping facilities. You won't have to work too hard because there are plenty of buses, trams and lifts available to get you to the next location (The Mountaineers: $10.95).

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