It’s been really nice out here in New Hampshire lately, perfect weather for commuting around town with a bicycle. If you’ve been looking for a little two wheeled inspiration of your own, a great book to check out is David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. It’s a quick read that’s very entertaining and sometimes even thought provoking. The concept was simple, Mr. Byrne travels around the world with his bicycle and jots down whatever comes to mind while biking around. Although he sometimes strays from his concept via renting a car or hiring a taxi, he does succeed in providing the reader some sort of abstract idea of what it would be like commuting via bicycle in lands far and away. That being said, the most enjoyable parts of the book are when he is exploring the United States. I found the trips to Niagra Falls and through Detroit to be particularily fascinating.
Bicycles and travel tips aside, most of this book is filled with delightful arm-chair style philosophy. Mr. Byrne succeeded in provoking thoughts about all sorts of topics that I found myself contemplating long after finishing different chapters in the book. He touches on topics that range from the hostile nature of Australia, political dynasties in the Philippines, corporate architecture and landscaping, to the question about whether dogs experience denial. It’s all good fun and what this book made me realize more than anything else is that Mr. Byrne is actually a pretty reasonable guy who can be surprisingly normal and down to earth. Much of his writing reminds me of the type of conversations I would have in some of my own circles.
I, like Mr. Byrne, am more of a commuter type that enjoys using a bicycle to get from point A – B, rather than the type that likes to suit up in Spandex and burn rubber, so this book spoke to me more than it may to other types of bike fanatics. I enjoyed that there was very little righteousness that is sometimes associated with bicycle activists, although the appendix had an interesting dissertation on the future of bicycles in New York City. I typically enjoy the activist stuff also, but I’m glad this book was different and that he kept the writing focused on the experience. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that bicycling can just be about fun and adventure.
Overall, the book is great entertainment and there’s a little something in there for everyone. To get a glimpse of his writing you can check out David Byrne’s blog.
Find more info on Bicycle Diaries here.