First off, this is a weird book.
It fits squarely into my goal of reading more things I wouldn’t normally, making picks from out of left field. It’s some mad chimera of travel book, business history, memoir, and autobiography. The co-authorial implementation is clunky and intrusive and the book suffers a bit from its disparate identity, but nonetheless comes together well enough to form an interesting narrative.
Unlikely Destinations tells the story of two backpackers who seem to stumble into the ownership of a multinational company almost by accident. Of course, the reality is no doubt a bit different than the romantic copy on the back of the book, but the narrative of the rise of Lonely Planet guidebooks is certainly charming. The narrative voice is meandering and sometimes inconsistent, but still engaging and witty in a clever-friend-at-the-bar sort of way. This may sound like I’m booking on the book, but I really did enjoy it. I am on both a bit of a travel kick (and a nonfiction kick in general) right now, so that’s probably coming into play here.
The bottom line with books like this? Read them if you’re into the topic at hand. If you liked the Steve Jobs biography or you like reading about travel, dig in. Not everything we read has to be MFA-approved high prose. Books are these wonderful technological machines that open up windows into rooms either large or of great specificity. Read about the shit you like and check your literary ego at the door.
Recommendation: see above.