Terse as a New York minute, the ingeniously petite Knopf CityMap Guide to New York is basically an origami-like collection of eight fold-out maps accompanied by mini-glosses on the worthwhile sites. Armed with the basics, you can discreetly plot your next move, without looking like a clueless rube. The restaurant choices are a bit spotty, perhaps because the original was geared to a French market (what, no Ducasse?), but the shopping and clubbing suggestions seem right on the money. If you're whipping into town, this tomelet makes a good crash course. If you're already an habitue, you can pencil in your own must-sees and essentially write your own book.
Sandy MacDonald is the author of Quick Escapes Boston (Globe Pequot). She lives in Cambridge and Nantucket in Massachusetts.