Book Review: Lonely Planet’s Instant Expert

“Lonely Planet’s Instant Expert. A Visual Guide to the Skills You’ve Always Wanted.”
by Nigel Holmes
Lonely Planet Publications, November 2014
Hardback, 17.5 x 22 cm (6.9 x 8.7 in), 204 pp., £14.99, US$19.99
Not available for Kindle, nor in the iTunes Store.

Among the glut of infographics books littering the shelves of booksellers now, this stands out as an unusual attempt to convey the gist of 69 different professions, trades, roles, or even species, using a rich range of graphics techniques.

It is written with tongue firmly in cheek, so it would be inappropriate to comb through the entire contents trying to find technical errors (although you may spot a typo on page 197). If you already do any of these things, you are bound to have a slightly different take. However Nigel Holmes has done remarkably well to give you a flavour of each – its zest, perhaps.

From Art Critic to Yogi, each job description includes enough text to make it worth reading, but sufficient interesting graphics to make the pages worth looking at properly too. Some are useful compendia of information, such as its glossary of clothing care symbols, summary of bikers’ sign language, basic knots, beach safety signals and flags, and motor racing flags.

Useful tips include how to fix a cycle puncture, improve your swimming, perform emergency dentistry, bind a book, make sushi, and there are several pages on improving your photographs. These are centred on the theme of topics relevant to travellers, hence the publisher. The final spread offers a useful smattering of phrases from around the world meaning ‘goodbye’.

This is all packed into the size and weight of book which is readily tucked into a carry-on bag to browse whilst travelling, or dip into when you have time to pass in a hotel. It is thus an ideal travel companion, or small gift. Sadly for those wanting to load all their books onto an iPad or Kindle, it is currently only available in print. If you can carry the odd printed book, I would put this high in the list of contenders: it is odd, but wonderfully so.