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Down the Book Lane

November 15, 1987|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Want to spend an extra buck? Pamela Lanier's "Elegant Small Hotels--A Connoisseur's Guide" tells about 168 hotels in the United States devoted to pleasing the most discriminating. The information is quite complete, including dress codes and facilities. The photos put you on the scene while the text and side notes offer explicit answers (John Muir: $13.95).

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In "Cyclists' Route Atlas--A Guide to the Gold Country and High Sierra North," Randall Gray Braun describes how to enjoy some quality routes without lugging extra gear. The photos are all right and the maps are good, so you won't get caught on a route with a downhill screamer. It's $8.95 (plus 54 cents tax for California residents) direct from Heyday Books, P.O. Box 9145, Berkeley, Calif. 94709.

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The Blue Guide series has another publication available, "Holland," by John Tomes. It's a compilation of that country's history, features, customs and art, including practical information for nearly 40 itineraries. The illustrations are few but interesting, the maps above average ($19.95).

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"India--A Travel Survival Kit" should help unravel the complex diversities and challenges facing a traveler there. Coping with that nation's almost overwhelming variety of politics, religion and sometimes ambivalent attitudes is thoroughly discussed. It's an insight of a country that reflects yesterday and today. Geoff Crowther, Prakash A. Raj and Tony Wheeler joined to compile this guide of many answers (Lonely Planet: $17.95).

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Anyone considering a visit that's either do-it-yourself or joining a group will find that "African Safari" by Mark Nolting will add much to your enjoyment. If you're interested in viewing the flora and fauna, the guide is a good source of information (Publisher's Group West: $15.95).

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The Ordinance Survey Leisure Guides have two excellent compilations newly available: "Cornwall" and "Channel Islands." Both have text and color photos covering the past and present. They have lots of detailed information that includes where to stay, eat, shop, etc. For just expanding your knowledge, they are worth the $19.95 each (Salem House).

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The "New Zealand Handbook," by Jane King, covers the gamut of what to see in that country, from volcanoes to snowcapped mountains, rain forests or sun-drenched beaches. You won't have to inquire about where to eat, stay or what to see or do with this complete guide (Moon: $13.95).

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If enjoying travel includes finding the unusual, try "Shopping in Exotic Places," by Roland and Caryl Rae Krannich and Jo Reimer. And if you're interested in buying the right items at the right prices in Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, you will find the guide full of suggestions. The art of bartering, including everyday shopping basics, are clearly defined, along with places to hang your hat or lift a fork (Impact: $13.95).

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"Nino Lo Bello's Guide to the Vatican" takes one on a detailed exploration of the papal enclave in Rome. For just the curiosity of observation, the $9.95 tab would be a good investment (Chicago Review Press).

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Gaylon Duke and Zenia Victor explain in "China in 22 Days" how to visit 110 cities, towns and monuments in three weeks. Without losing touch, the itinerary can be shortened or extended. For a do-it-yourself visit, the text provides enough information so you won't starve, sleep outside, get lost or miss some must-sees (John Muir: $6.95).

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