Wouldn't that still make it an incredibly good read?
My favourites are from Timothy Cope.
On the Trail of Ghengis Khan is about his experience riding a horse from Mongolia to Austria.
Off the Rails is about riding a bike from St. Petersburg to the other side of Russia (forget the end point).
I like that he mixes diary, history and reflection together quite well.
4. Snow Leopard
Some dude who is into LSD and likes talking about Buddhism walks through the Himalayas and doesn't see a Snow Leopard but that's OK because Buddhism is about ~the moment~. 50-70s travel writing is boring as fuck, and I haven't read anything to prove that wrong.
Just like a 'Short Walk through the Hindu Kush' except without any descriptions of beautiful women, diarrhea or mullberries.
Matt, I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy either Matthiesen (Snow Leopard) or Newby (Hindu Kush).
I enjoyed both of them, although I also read them while I was travelling so that may, for whatever reason, have coloured my recollection of them.
"A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" wasn't the best of Newby's books, though - the book that I enjoyed the most was "The Last Grain Race", the story of Newby's passage as a young apprentice on a four-masted steel barque from the UK to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope, and then home again via Cape Horn.
Probably the best, most engrossing travel writing that I've read has been either Redmond O'Hanlon ("Into the Heart of Borneo", "In Trouble Again" and "Congo Journey") and Eric Hansen ("Stranger in the Forest" and "Motoring with Mohammed").
I really wish that Hansen would write more as his writing is really enjoyable and he's had a fascinating life.
5. The Rehearsal
An exceptional book - especially as a debut novel by Eleanor Catton. The novel opens with the 17 year old sister of the main character being caught in a sexual relationship with her music teacher.
As the novel unfolds, various reactions are detailed: some girls are shocked, believing this to be a sin, others are intrigued and want to know the truth, in all its sordid and explicit detail, others are challenged by the school's response.
Alongside this is the story of Isolde - the sister of the abused - who begins taking saxophone lessons from an acerbic and intense teacher. The lessons start one-sided as the saxophone teacher expounds on the nature of teenagers, parents and the position the teacher occupies as a quasi-therapist and confidant.
The final strand of the novel follows Stanley - who auditions and is accepted at 'The Institute' - a prestigious, intense and suffocating Drama school. Through this, themes of performance (which run throughout the novel) are made more explicit and reflect the behaviour of the other characters.
This is an excellent book. It often discusses topics that are uncomfortable or taboo with an insight and potency. It feels like the sort of book only a woman could have written (partially because if a male had written it the paedophillia would have been overwhelming and partially because Catton's insight into different ages of women is really key to the differences between the female characters).
I loved how it was written - sharp, cutting, piercing, direct. There's little filler and little fluff, the book moves at a steady and determined pace, and manages to be about something meaningful for most of the story.
While, at times, the characters might seem too perfect, polished or unlikely, I didn't find this to be a detractor at all.