Certainly the biggest, if not the best, volume is The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World. This weighty tome provides photographic and textual coverage of every nation and commonwealth on the planet, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Each destination is covered in a colorful two-page spread featuring photos, both small and very large, which capture glimpses of local terrain and cityscapes, but which more keenly focus on indigenous people, flora and fauna, and cultural customs. The accompanying text efficiently whets the appetite of the prospective world traveler with once-over-lightly discussion of peak travel periods and things to do, incisive tidbits about the character of the country, an instructive phrase or two in the native language, and a small map delineating key areas and urban centers. From flamingos basking in the waters of Tanzania's Lake Magadi, to an aging, dreadlocked Jamaican gentleman, to a 13th-century hillside church overlooking Macedonia's Lake Ohrid, the visuals here are nothing short of sensational. Perhaps no less astonishing is the book's price tag, since this kind of pictorially opulent coffee-table item often costs twice as much.

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