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Books to Go

More on Muir

October 09, 1994|COLMAN ANDREWS

THE WILD MUIR; TWENTY-TWO OF JOHN MUIR'S GREATEST ADVENTURES, selected and introduced by Lee Stetson (Yosemite Assn., $9.95 paper).

The Scottish-born naturalist and writer John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, is so strongly identified with California--and particularly with the Yosemite Valley, where he lived for six years--that even his fans don't always realize that he also traveled (on foot) in, and wrote about, Alaska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and some of Canada--and once made a trek across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

This attractive little collection of excerpts from Muir's journals, letters and other writings--assembled by an actor who portrays Muir on stage --includes tales from many of these places, and even one boyhood anecdote from Scotland. One of the most poignant entries is an account of an industrial accident Muir suffered that nearly cost him the sight in one eye--and which awakened him, he says, to the beauties of nature.

THE PACKING BOOK; SECRETS OF THE CARRY-ON TRAVELER by Judith Gilford (Ten Speed Press, $7.95 paper); SMART BUSINESS TRAVEL; HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN YOU'RE ON THE ROAD by Stacey Ravel Abarbanel (First Books, Inc., $12.95 paper) and TRAVEL RIGHTS by Charles Leocha (World Leisure Corp., $7.95 paper).

It's a jungle out there when you're traveling. Airlines overbook you, rental car companies tack on extra charges, muggers pounce on you, con artists scam you--and as if that isn't bad enough, your bags weigh 90 pounds but you forgot to pack your toothpaste!

Here are three books that offer solutions (or preventions) for various kinds of travel headaches and nightmares. Judith Gilford, co-founder of the Easy Going Travel Shop and Bookstore in Berkeley, gets very specific on the issue of how and what to pack. She describes different styles of luggage, gives illustrated tips on how to fold clothing, discusses on-the-road clothes-washing techniques. And she offers endless checklists. It gets more complicated from there. There's plenty of common sense here, but planning for every eventuality can get a bit excessive.

Stacey Abarbanel's book, which deals with issues more serious than leaving the travel alarm behind, contains plenty of common sense, too, and plenty of obvious advice. ("Never open your purse or wallet for someone on the street.") Like other books of this genre, it probably has at least something to teach even the most experienced traveler--but it might also scare the novice.

"Travel Rights" is mostly about airline policies (When do they have to compensate you for bumping you off a flight? What happens if your bags are lost or delayed?) and rental car insurance charges, with brief sections on credit card travel amenities, dealing with consular officials, etc. It's basically a magazine article between covers.

Quick trips:

THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO WASHINGTON, D.C. by Bob Sehlinger and Joe Surkiewicz with Eve Zibart (Prentice Hall, $13 paper). The sixth in this publisher's "Unofficial Guide" series (all are written or co-written by Bob Sehlinger), this is an information-packed book in abbreviated format, generous with practical tips. The "How much time to allow" recommendations are particularly useful.

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO WILDERNESS CAMPING AND BACKPACKING IN THE UNITED STATES by Charles Cook (Michael Kesend Publishing, Ltd., $24.95 paper). This is a compendium of regulations and listings for all state- and federal-government-owned parks and other natural areas in which wilderness camping is permitted, plus a common-sense introduction to this manner of enjoying the great outdoors.

Books to Go appears the second and fourth week of every month.

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