New York, New York: a Guide to Guides
I am going to Book Expo, which is in the Javitts Center, and staying in a hotel nearby. I took out a pile of guidebooks from the library, to give me ideas for what to do for the short time I’m not at the convention center or sleeping. Every book I read defined neighborhoods of Manhattan differently, landing Javitts in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Midtown East, or lower midtown. Some just skipped the area entirely.
NFT (not for Tourists) Guide to New York City, 2015. This book is meant for the people who live in Manhattan or near it, or at least
pretend that they do. TINY print, easy to put in your pocket. A section for each neighborhood, with lots of maps. They don’t solicit businesses for listings or opinions, they gather users ratings and recommendations on their website. There is advice on city etiquette, street indexes, phone numbers, calendar of events and other useful information. The descriptions are very brief. They include a listing of essential books, movies and songs about NYC.
Lonely Planet Pocket New York City, 2016. Regis St. Louis, Christian Bonetto. A guide from a UK perspective, for a traveler out for a good holiday with a wad of cash in his pocket next to this little book. It covers a lot of information in a small size. Includes a pull-out map, top sights, local areas, “best of” lists and a four day itinerary to
seeing the iconic sights. It gives 2-3 choices for each neighborhood in the categories of sights, dining, drinks, shopping and entertainment. A separate section gives walking tours, overviews of museums, fine dining, local eats, entertainment, night life, festivals, kids, free, LGBT, architecture, sports, parks and tours. The last section, a “survival guide” lists hotels, restaurants, etiquette and transportation tips.
Walking New York: the Best of the City, National Geographic 2016 “You don’t really visit a city, you visit its neighborhoods.”- Keith Bellows. Different walking itineraries through Manhattan- whirlwind tours, weekends, fun, sights. Clear maps, definitely for athletic tourists used to walking 5-6 miles a day. Includes transportation information as part of some of the tours. It doesn’t mention the hefty fee for going to the top of the Empire State Building until the 3rd time it’s listed.
Walking Manhattan, Ellen Levitt, 2015. This may be a great book, but the design was headache inducing. The maps are dichromatic, a peach over a salmon color. Some pages have background images, making them harder to read. If you are considering trying to be artsy while creating a guidebook, just don’t. Save it for your bathroom wallpaper. I tried to give it a chance and chose a walk near where I was staying. While it had interesting information about sights and architecture, it didn’t mention food, shopping or bathrooms (the reason I walk places). In the back of the book it lists restaurants with locations and websites, no descriptions, price ranges or other details.
300 Reasons to Love New York, Marie-Joelle Parent, 2016. This is not a quick-look-it-up guidebook, though it has some of the features of one. It is a love letter to the author/photographer’s city, 300 places, people and things that have fascinated her. She profiles different “characters” including several homeless people, and gives an authentic, gritty look into the real New York City. The photographs are artistic, finding the beauty in everyday objects. She mentions hidden streets, weird little stores, galleries, speakeasies, fine dining, authentic ethnic food and places to find. A good book to read from start to finish, even if you don’t plan to go to all the places she mentions.
DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 New York City, 2016 I love DK books. They always have excellent pictures, clear, succinct information, and interesting trivia. Their maps are clear. This guide comes with a laminated pull-out map of Manhattan. This is a book for tourists, hitting the top ten of must-see destinations for iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. It gives details about these places, like yearly events, historical tidbits, pricing, rules, nearby restaurants and more. The book also has top ten lists of things like museums, restaurants, festivals, free activities and more. It’s a small book, and a good read for a train ride.
So right now I’m trying to decide if I want to take a pilgrimage down to the Strand Bookstore, walk the High Line to Chelsea Market or shop 5th Avenue.