Suburban Assault

Book Report: Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

with 3 comments

I picked up my copy of this book almost a year ago. As I’ve stated before, I never have time to read anymore – but I was really interested in this book. I’m a huge fan of David Byrne and the Talking Heads, and a huge fan of bikes.

Folks were already getting early releases of the book, and I purposely avoided their reviews. I wanted to form my own opinion about it. Well, several months and one alternate book interruption later, I finally finished.

My overall opinion of the book is that it’s a really good read. I really like David’s perspective on cycling, culture, humanity and the urban landscape. The first chapter, American Cities, is an insightful look into the problems some cities face with failed industry, suburban sprawl and cultural decay. It makes you take a second look at your own surroundings and appreciate the efforts made to keep the infrastructure in balance.

The book rolls into a series of descriptive stories about some of the cities that he’s visited over the years. Being an avid cyclist, he brings a folding bike with him on his travels – which he uses to explore each destination. He’s really inspired me to get a folding bike and do some exploring of my own.

If you are expecting a book full of bike love and advocacy ramblings, you might find yourself at a loss. Most of the stories are about random thoughts and discoveries – all seem to feel reflective of journal-like blog entries – hence the second half of the book’s name.

David does write more about bikes in his chapter about his hometown of New York City. There, the Epilogue and the Appendix you’ll find bulk of any substantial bike perspective. A few other bike related bonuses are the little bike drawings at the bottom of each page that animate when you flip through them. Cute. You also get treated to some really cool New York City Bike Rack Designs by David.

Overall, this has become one of my favorite books that I will recommend to any of my Talking Head, bike friends.

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Written by dickdavid

September 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Book Report

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. Like you, I don’t have time to read much anymore. I’m trying to change that. I’ll put this book on my reading list.

    Myles/ rattrappress

    September 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

  2. By coincidence, I’ve also been reading this book. I didn’t notice the bikes animating. I shall have to try flipping the pages.

    I got this book from the library and it was worth checking out and reading, but I’m not sure it’d be something I’d read repeatedly. Nowadays, those are about the only books I actually purchase, along with “known good” ones I can’t get via the library or interlibary loan.

    Steve A

    September 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  3. This was a very enjoyable book, whether you like the first half or the second half. Some lucky folks may appreciate both. Having a walkable and bikeable community is greatly underestimated in most places outside of NYC.

    procommunity

    September 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm


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