Wild Planet (Visible Ink, pounds 15) by Tom Clynes boasts "1001 extraordinary events for the inspired traveller". It details events as diverse as the Highland Games and the Thaipusam celebrations in Singapore, where metal skewers are driven into participant's bodies. My only carp about this otherwise splendid book is that for many of the events, it only provides approximate dates. But, let's face it, if you're prepared to travel more than halfway round the world to see a roasted pig wearing sunglasses and a bikini being paraded around the streets of Balayan, you'd be wise to double-check the date before you left.
Borderland: A Journey Through The History of the Ukraine (Weidenfeld & Nickolson, pounds 18.99) by Anna Reid. This book takes the reader on a fascinating and often violent odyssey, spanning more than 1,000 years of conflict and culture. Reid covers events from the coming of the Vikings, to Stalin's purges and beyond to the independence celebrations of 1991. She translates her obvious mastery of her subject into an accessible work, which should enrich the experience of any traveller to this new country.
South American Handbook 1988 (Footprint, pounds 22.99 hardback) by Ben Box. With its sturdy cover and cigarette- paper-thin pages, this book not only has the reputation but also the physical appearance of being the Bible for travellers to the region. To call this guidebook thorough is almost an understatement. Crammed within its 1680 pages along with the basics on culture, history, hotels etc, is advice such as "how to arrange a broadcast appeal on Peru's Radio Tawantinsuyo, for the return of your stolen gear". Although there's a danger of spending your entire trip trying to wade through its reams of detail (and straining your eyes on its microscopic print in the process), who am I to criticise a book which is in its 74th edition?