Any aspiring globetrotter need look no further than Lonely Planet's "The Cities Book" for the ultimate coffee table fixture. To follow "The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World," editor Roz Hopkins has released a subjective ranking of the two hundred cities deemed traveler favourites by Lonely Planet's readers and editors. Admittedly less definitive than "The Travel Book," "The Cities Book" provides just as much entertainment with five pounds of glorious photographs and thumbnail sketches.
Hopkins devotes a two-page spread to each city that includes four defining photos and categorical information: Vital Statistics (size, location, elevation, population, nickname), Anatomy (geographic layout), People (ethnic breakdown), Typical Native (personality, values), Defining Experience, Strengths, Weaknesses, Gold Star, Cityspeak (common conversation topics among natives), Starring Role (books or film in which city is featured), Import, Export, Sensory Recommendations (see, eat, drink, do, watch, buy) and Urban Myth.
This list of the top 200 cities will certainly spawn arguments over which ones made the cut, which did not and where each ranks. The selections for the first third of the list seem definitive (Paris, NYC, Sydney, London, Rome, Bangkok, Berlin, Montreal, Amsterdam etc) while the remainder reads as a hodgepodge of established cities and obscure choices (eg. Christiansted, US Virgin Islands and Beira, Mozambique). Of course, debating the choices adds to the experience of sharing the book with family and friends.
The book also includes an interesting series of introductory essays on the past, present and future of urbanization. Typical of Lonely Planet, the superb photographic quality and off-beat information allows readers to get a true flavor of each city. "The Cities Book" certainly achieves its goal: to showcase the incredible diversity of the world through individual urban oases.