Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Games: Bicycle Diaries

For my second Learning Experiences challenge for the LGRAB Summer Games I'm reading a book,Let's Go Ride a Bike Summer Games the celebrated Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. For good measure, I reserved the book from my woefully underfunded local library using the excellent regional inter-library system, BCCLS, and biked over to pick it up.

As its title suggests, Bicycle Diaries is a collection of the author's experiences and musings traveling and bicycling around the world. That said, the first thing I noticed about the book was its unpretentious retro-cool design:Bicycle Diaries cloth over cardboard covers, take-me-along size, eminently readable typefaces, fine-grain, matte photographs. A tiny bicycle wanders back and forth across the bottom of some pages, and of course I had to see what happens when one flips the pages rapidly (grin). There's tremendous visual and tactile appeal and a subtle assertion of the experience of reading a book that directly parallels the once-learned-never-forgotten experience of riding a bike. As soon as I touched the book, my fingers knew I'd like its contents just as surely as they know good wool.

Indeed, I enjoyed the book so much that I'd rather not spoil it for other readers by commenting at length on the essays. It's worth noting that the whimsical bike racks sketched in the back of the book actually did get built and temporarily installed around NYC. Also note: the author's voice is intelligent, urbane, and tolerant; a few reflections include R-rated material. That said, I highly recommend the book to readers interested in cycling, city planning, travel, and contemporary culture, particularly music and visual arts. I'll be adding Bicycle Diaries to my personal library of bicycling books.

For more David Byrne on bicycles (literally), see this NY Times video short, David Byrne: Live on Two Wheels.

For more books on cycling, see the LGRAB suggestions or The Christian Science Monitor, 10 great books about cycling. Or see the LGRAB Summer Games blogroll – I can't help thinking that in our modest way, participants are generating our own bicycle diaries.

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