Come together: If you're stuck in an armchair, "Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings," by Craig Brown, can reproduce the serendipity travelers thrive on. This odd volume, researched and written with breathtaking precision and abundant British wit, recounts a chain of weird encounters among famous people. Frank Lloyd Wright meets Marilyn Monroe. Igor Stravinsky meets Walt Disney. Groucho Marx meets T.S. Eliot. Martha Graham meets Madonna. Oh, and each chapter is 1,001 words. Brown is a British critic, satirist and, it would appear, obsessive. Vanity Fair called the book a "feat of narrative engineering."
Taking a long view: "London: Portrait of a City," by Reuel Golden, editor, is a sweeping view of London in color and black-and-white photography, from the Victorian era to now. The image-savvy folks at Taschen give London the same sophisticated, provocative treatment they gave our hometown in 2009's "Los Angeles: Portrait of a City" (which wouldn't be a bad choice, either).
Info: $69.99, www.Taschen.com
Paris pleasure: "DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Paris," by Rosemary Bailey, Katherine Spenley and Alan Tillier, is a guidebook rich in maps, charts and imagery. Daniel Jacobson, manager of the Distant Lands bookshop in Pasadena, says the DK book "cuts through a lot of possible confusion by representing things visually.... It's a good book for an expensive but popular city."
Info: $25, www.TravelDK.com
From us to you: "SoCal Close-Ups: Your Vacation Guide," by Christopher Reynolds and the Los Angeles Times, includes about 40,000 words of frank advice in an ebook or iPad app on hotels, restaurants, museums, bars, parks, beaches and shops in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The iPad app version, "Los Angeles Times SoCal Close-Ups" is a visual feast that combines text with about 600 photos and a dozen videos from Times photographers, breaking L.A. and Orange counties into 12 chapters.
Info: $4.99 for ebook; details at http://www.amzn.to/SePC3a. iPad app is 99 cents per chapter in Apple's App store, http://www.bit.ly/Rjki6p