Christmas Gifts for Cyclists 2011: Cycling books

As chosen by Ed Scotland at road.cc's local bookshop Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights

by nick_rearden   December 8, 2011  

We've probably mentioned that road.cc is based in the fine city of Bath where apart from the hills in all directions there's not too much to complain about. Apart from anything, we are fortunate to have in Bath the UK's Independent Bookseller of the Year 2011 in Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights and not only that Mr Edward Scotland who works there is a cyclist. Books on the theme are never a struggle around these parts. Over to you, Ed:

 

The Rider - Tim Krabbé £8.99

I love this book (and so do a lot of our forum readers - Ed) It is brilliantly written in a taut no-nonsense style by an author who also just happens to be a talented rider in his own right. The single race described in this tiny book is presented like a chess game; the author has raced with the same men many times and revels in predicting when they will fold or try to dominate. Then he becomes aware that no one in his breakaway has ever ridden with the new guy out in front…

 

Maglia Rosa - Herbie Sykes £29

Another beautifully produced book from the clever people at Rouleur. The photography is stunning and the history of the sexiest race in cycling with the manliest jersey is spot on. A truly class act.

 

Cyclepedia - Michael Embacher £17.95

Porn for bike enthusiasts of every order from the purely technical to the outrageously aesthetic, this will make lycra-clad weight freaks drool and nerdy vintage lovers flip. It contains great photographs of loads of innovative bikes through the ages, which hammer home the restless desire to improve and finesse what is already one of the perfect design objects.

 

Tomorrow, We Ride - Jean Bobet £12.95

This is a rare beast, an autobiography by one of the gods of French cycling that is actually well written. The author is surprisingly revealing about all aspects of Tour life and enjoyably defensive about his own considerable talent. But for me the whole book is worth it for the section where he explains why he loves to ride. Pure poetry, that I should really tattoo somewhere.

 

Paris-Roubaix, a Journey Through Hell - Bouvet, Callewaert & Gatellier £29.95

All the mud and considerable blood of the hardest, most ridiculous race there is. The photography is great and any fan of human emotion, especially suffering, will enjoy the gritted teeth and looks of torment on cycling's most legendary faces. Every aspect of the race is explored and in every age. This is a must.

 

In Pursuit of Stardom - Tony Hewson £12.95

This is the rousing tale of three friends in a clapped-out old ambulance, who pioneered the terrors of the continent for the rest of us. They set out with ridiculous optimism and no money, confident that they would survive on prize money gained from a season of small races. An exciting, funny and inspiring account of an almost unknown golden age of British competition cycling abroad.

 

Cycling’s Golden Age - Owen Mulholland £34.95

This is my favourite coffee table tome. It covers every great name from the golden age with lashings of photos, biographical detail, memorabilia and incident. It is impossible to walk away from this book and not be depressed by the caliber or lack of eccentricity in today's would-be heroes.

 

 

One More Kilometre and We’re in the Showers - Tim Hilton £8.99

With all the great books on foreign bike culture it is easy to forget that, from the start, Britain ploughed its own often very different path. This book delves into our island's cycling heritage with unexpected insights and wonderful tangents, I emerged genuinely entertained but also educated and oddly proud of the bike’s British legacy. If you haven’t read it you really should.

 

Fallen Angel - William Fotheringham £8.99

One of the all time greatest cyclists and enigmas, here Coppi’s insanely complicated life is looked into with great insight and clarity. Fotheringham paints a fascinating portrait of Italy at a time of huge upheaval, as it looks to and then turns from a man who may or may not have made a pact with the devil in order to ride like no other. And here's the road.cc review.

 

Pedalare! Pedalare! - John Foot £14.99

As an unashamed lover of almost all things Italian, with blind eye turned to Il Duce and old bunga bunga, I approached this history of Italian cycling with some excitement. I really enjoyed Foot's style and came away with way more information on this nation's fascination than I started with. A hearty recommendation.

 

Rouleur Annual Volume 5

What can I say? It's a great magazine and the annual summing up is a perfect holiday treat. As they say themselves, "Pain, glory, victory, despair, closed roads, cross dressing and sleep deprivation… a year of cycle sport captured with superb imagery and insightful words," all from their usual writers including personal favourite Bill Strickland. (...and you can order this one from the road.cc shop too - Ed)

 

 

Bounce - Matthew Syeed £8.99

This is a simply fascinating look at what makes a champion, in pretty much any walk of life but especially sport. The conclusions are often challenging and surprising and the author is very convincing in style as well as argument.

 

Vault, an anti-novel - David Rose £8.99

This little novel was a real discovery for me. It tells the tale of one man's move from war-time sniper to competition cyclist with a career in espionage for good measure. To his surprise he finds an author has already written his life into a book, and the hero is left trying to prise back his own story. With lots of great bike detail and odd literary twists, this is thought provoking eccentric stuff that should be read far more widely.

 

The Epiplectic Bicycle - Edward Gorey £8.99

Gorey is better known for his definitive illustrations for TS Eliot's 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats' but we're obviously going for his bicycle period here and 1968. The sort of book knowing parents will enjoy reading to their children for words like 'oaf' and 'ninny'. "An untenanted bicycle rolled into view…" and so Embley and Yewbert's adventure begins.

 

Raoul Taburin Keeps a Secret - Jean-Jacques Sempe £16.95

I have saved a real treat till last. This is a sly comic masterpiece in graphic form about the worlds’ greatest bicycle mechanic who harbours a deeply embarrassing secret that won’t stay hidden. It is a real gem from France’s most beloved illustrator, and is a must read if only for the wonderful interior views of the most cluttered bike shed ever.

 

For even more cycling book suggestions take a look at last year's Christmas books for cyclists' list compiled by our very own Simon MacMichael.

 

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights
14-15 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL
01225 331155
mrbsemporium.com
 

 

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I feel you have missed out a book, the ONLY book i've read in the last 5 years thanks to winning it here, It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels by Rob Penn

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
8th December 2011 - 15:58

like this
Like (10)

I won't say we missed it out deliberately but we had to do a fair amount of whittling from about 30 suggestions and Mr Penn's, NY Bike Snob and the Fotheringham 'Cyclopedia' books all missed out purely because they've all quite rightly had such an extraordinary amount of exposure that we can't imagine that anyone hasn't heard of them. We wanted to focus on the new, the undiscovered and some older things that, hopefully someone agrees, deserve another look.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
8th December 2011 - 18:30

like this
Like (11)

Other great omission is Matt Seaton's The Escape Artist - not just one of the best books about cycling, but one of the best I've ever read (and my wife will tell you I'm not easily pleased). Buy, you won't be disappointed.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [206 posts]
8th December 2011 - 20:40

like this
Like (11)

pastaman wrote:
Other great omission is Matt Seaton's The Escape Artist - not just one of the best books about cycling, but one of the best I've ever read (and my wife will tell you I'm not easily pleased). Buy, you won't be disappointed.

I agree. The best cycling related book I've ever read.

posted by cousin zeke [26 posts]
8th December 2011 - 21:20

like this
Like (14)

Classics, gems and surprises... nice list.

I've been somewhat uninspired by the other Christmas lists but this one has got my interest.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [494 posts]
9th December 2011 - 9:50

like this
Like (14)

A fine list indeed. Would make an excellent Schwag Grab prize... How well in with Mr B are you boys?

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [194 posts]
9th December 2011 - 12:11

like this
Like (17)

I really enjoyed 'Two Wheels on My Wagon' by Paul Howard.
All about a roadie who takes on the mtb 'Tour Divide' challenge.

It is very well written imho.

posted by Super Domestique [1583 posts]
12th December 2011 - 10:57

like this
Like (12)

Surprised you omitted Mountain High, from Quercus Publishing. Lovely photos and insightful text.

Timbo13's picture

posted by Timbo13 [272 posts]
5th January 2012 - 11:03

like this
Like (13)