I really did buy so many books for Rome last year. I won't share my pile for the trip next year but here is the shelf of books for Rome.
I look like I could open my own travel book store, if the insides weren't ripped to shreds!
Today my son and I sent in the application for his passport. It's feeling more real now. He says it will feel real for him when the plane tickets are bought. I wonder what the tipping point for people is when they start thinking...this trip is going to happen!!!
Note a couple things.
As I said about my experience in a French restaurant, I try to read about the etiquette of each country I travel to. Some countries don't have these books so the internet is your most valuable tool there. But Western european countries definitely have them so find one to help you. I like to get all the typical books and then find a few that aren't typical (like the Born to Shop which really helped me in Provence).
Also note the language books. Please do not travel to any country without knowing basic niceties like please, thank you, hello and goodbye. Seriously with those four phrases you will feel better about yourself and the country and the local people will treat you better. Ciao!