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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another list book?, 7 Sep 2012
This review is from: Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth (Compact edition) (Rough Guides Compact Edition) (Paperback)
Although it doesn't say so in the title, "Making the Most of Your Time on Earth" is another entry into the increasingly popular style of travel 'list' books - in this case 1000 ideas for exploration and experience which span the globe and the spectrum of travellers' interest (and budgets!). I should admit that I'm something of a addict to these style of books - not only for inspiration but also for satisfaction - I appreciate having my own travel experiences ranked as worthwhile by someone other than myself. Whilst this kind of bullet point travel guide gets a bad rap from the more serious minded travellers, there should be space for a couple on anyone's shelves.

Like all books of this nature, the format and presentation can make or break them, and it is in this case that this book falls down. Whilst it's beautiful to look through, there aren't pictures for most of the entries, which is frustrating if the purpose of the book is to leaf through and dream about going - there's probably dozens of walking suggestions in here, and with no pictures to distinguish them they easily become forgettable entries. Furthermore, the lack of page numbering is a strange decision. All the experiences are numbered, and so the index has a reference to this, but when pages have multiple entries, it can take a while to skim through to the right page (finding entry 516 might involve opening the book roughly halfway, then flicking back a bit, forwards a bit...). Also, whilst the book is split into clear geographical sections, within this they are mixed up; entries on Italy, for example, are scattered through the 'Southeast Europe' section, along with such places as Serbia, Turkey and Bosnia.

The question is, then, what sets Rough Guide's offering apart from the many others available? More than any other it is the quality of writing on offer. With so few words available entries in these books can often seem basic, glib and uninvolving - at worst they seem like nuggets of information gathered from a brief Google search. Here, however, there is an admirable mix of hard information, personal experience and inspirational language. Some entries are written as brief travelogues ("I toil uphil..."), a nice way to prevent the book becoming dry and dull. Also, at the end of each section is a page with brief sentences about how to act further on entries that particularly take your fancy - a nice touch when some books leave so much unclear.

This is, then, a decent purchase. The pitfalls of any book of this nature (format, target audience, lack of travel advice) are present as always. If you already own "1000 Things to Do Before You Die," "501 Must Visit Cities" etc. there's not a huge amount new here, what makes this preferable to many of these books is the quality of writing on offer.
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Location: Sussex, UK

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