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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Outdoor Travel Guides

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April 13, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Outdoor Travel Guides

Book Roundup Wednesday Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending travel guidebooks for the outdoors.

Frommer’s 500 Extraordinary Islands (by Julie Duchaine, Holly Hughes, Alexis Lipsitz Flippin, and Sylvie Murphy, $20, Wiley, Feb. 2010): Five hundred sounds like a lot, but the four authors had to admit that it was difficult to narrow down the list of must-visit islands. Fortunately, the book is organized to showcase each island’s most compelling reason to visit, making it easier for readers to choose. Categories include “Garden Islands” and “Island Escapes,” with a “Pleasure Islands” section for the party animal. Descriptions are enhanced with personal anecdotes so that even if they are thousands of miles away, the islands on the page don’t end up seeming so remote. 

Hiking Washington’s History (by Judy Bentley, $19, University of Washington Press, Oct. 2010): Comprehensive and well-researched, Bentley’s trail guide breathes life into Washington state's natural landscapes by linking trails to historical events. Each chapter's loaded with entries from journals and letters, plus historical and modern photos. The book is organized by region, roughly west to east, and the whole state is covered. Whether you’re interested in hiking or history, this read satisfies an urge for either.

Backpacking North Carolina (by Joe Miller, $20, University of North Carolina Press, Mar. 2011): As the first stand-alone guidebook to backpacking in North Carolina, Miller's work doesn’t disappoint. He provides necessary information for beginner and experienced backpackers alike, even giving tips for heading out with children (make good use of "bail-out" trails!) and night hiking (give your eyes time to adjust before switching on a headlamp). Each section proffers a helpful sidebar that highlights everything from a trail's difficulty to its solitude rating.

Kayaking the Texas Coast (by John Whorff, $25, Texas A&M University Press, Feb. 2011): In part because sea kayaking in Texas is still relatively new, there aren’t a lot of guides out there to aid novice kayakers. John Whorff, a veteran of the sport, decided to solve this problem by writing one; it contains an introduction that covers basic equipment and safety, but the bulk is dedicated to highlighting the coasts' beauty. Routes are categorized as beginner, intermediate, and advanced, with plenty of information regarding each area’s wildlife and geography.

Moon Nicaragua (by Randall Wood & Joshua Berman, $20, Avalon, Oct. 2010): With such a glut of travel books on the market, this one stands out. It's got a section about unique trip ideas in Nicaragua and firsthand information from the authors. Feeling philanthropic? There's a special section about volunteering and studying Spanish in the country. Alternatively, the 21-day best-of tour takes you everywhere from a national park to a coffee farm to sunbathing on Corn Island.

--Shirley Mak

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