Basically, guide books can give some great information about local areas, but now with Trip Advisor and most local areas having tourist websites, they’re just a cumbersome companion. That is unless you’re carrying my book, ‘Backpacker’s Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Universe’ which is more a good read and a companion to remind yourself about the more important things in life. lol.
My usual procedure when I’m planning to visit a country that I don’t know much about is to visit a travel agent and grab some brochures on different tours. Then I’m seeing the highlights of that country. They provide great pictures and good ideas for routes to take.