“Hollywood Escapes” – A Guidebook Full of Movie Lore

Travel Tips, What's New — By Noah Albert on April 20, 2011 at 12:10 am

It’s a funny thing when a book that you really like gets remaindered. It’s hard to tell, is this a good thing or a bad thing? From the buyers perspective, suddenly the book becomes very affordable which is great. I am not so sure that the writer and publisher are equally pleased with this situation, and after producing a great book they definitely have gained at least some of my sympathy.

So recently I noticed that a bunch of copies of the 2006 Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer’s Guide to Exploring Southern California’s Great Outdoors by Harry Medved and Bruce Akiyama became available very cheaply. This is one my favorite Los Angeles area guidebooks. My first reaction was to buy 6 copies of the book to distribute to my friends (they deserve some sort of kickback for putting up with my constant travel blogger babble!).

So the obvious question is. . . what is the big deal about this book and why do I love buying it so much?

First off, this little tome is a great Southern California guidebook (the area covered includes Los Angeles as well as San Deigo, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and a range of desert locations including Death Valley, Palm Springs, and the Salton Sea). The selection of points of interest is right up my alley, including restaurants, shops, hotels, and camping areas as well as a bunch of active outdoor activities. (To me, showing someone Los Angeles means marching them to the top of a mountain on the city limits!) The background information is well written and detailed; they included a lot of great cultural history and local folklore about a given place. The included maps are well done and helpful and a bunch of nice pictures are included.

What really makes this book such a treasure however is the added movie location info and cinema history that is included in the mix. Both the authors are native Angelenos who have spent years writing for and about the movie industry. These guys are clearly deep into movie lore and have a real wealth of film knowledge between them. If that was not enough, as part of writing the book the writers interviewed a lot of filmmakers and location managers to fill in even more details.

The result is a book that helps you to move between the real-life places and famous movies scenes. Included with every description of a location is a long list of movies that were shot there. It is really a fun and eye-opening undertaking, to walk around and know that this is where they filmed a bunch of Star Trek episodes, or the commune scenes in Easy Rider, or where Marilyn Monroe chased a volleyball in Some Like It Hot. I also love that each chapter includes a DVD list at the end to help introduce you visually to the area.

If you are a movie buff visiting the Los Angeles area, then this is absolutely and definitely a great guidebook for you! Even if you are not a movie buff this book still has a lot to offer and is an engaging guidebook. The added bonus is that “Hollywood Escapes” is now super-affordable (starting at about $7 including shipping)! Below are some links to various sites where you can buy this guide (I ended up going with BookCloseOuts.com because they combine shipping my multiple copies):

Amazon.com link |   AbeBooks.com linkBookCloseOuts.com link

My final comment is that I really enjoy having the physical book in front of me. At this moment in history the apparatus of reading is being re-invented and I do see the convenience in an electronic interface that brings the relevant info directly in front of you and makes browsing a breeze. I guess I am just old school; I love having a book to thumb through and bookmark and carry around and even turn the pages. If you don’t agree with me, you can of course buy “Hollywood Escapes” as a Kindle book (for $9.99). If the subject of movie locations has peeked your interest, be sure to also check out my epic list of movies showcasing LA.

[Book cover courtesy of HollywoodEscapes.com; thumbnail photo courtesy of ricardodiaz11/flickr]

Tags: Adventure, Architecture, Art Deco, books, Geology, guidebooks, Hiking, Historic Los Angeles, history, Hollywood, Movie stars, Movies, Offbeat L.A., walks


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