It’s become a tradition that I pull together posts full of present ideas for women’s cycling fans and cycling fans/cyclists who are women, for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice etc etc, or birthdays, or just because you want to treat someone (yourself). And it’s also a tradition that I start with books published in 2016, either by women, or about women and cycling, because I do love a good cycling book.
If you want to see the previous posts, the 2014 booklist was the first, and included everything from autobiography to poetry, chicklit to history, science fiction to economics, and even books about men’s races! Last year’s booklist had cycling and women’s health, more autobiography, photography and art, and more.
This year’s collection includes autobiographies, of course, but also a Young Adult novel, photography, economics, colouring books, fiction, city planning, global warming, a cookbook and some general bikey books. It’s amazing how many things I found just from this year, and I always love the variety – and while this year’s theme was definitely ultra-endurance, and colouring, there are books about track, road, cyclocross and “everyday” cycling, including cycling for amputees – even a love story set at my favourite race, the Aviva Women’s Tour! If you can find more that have been published in 2016, especially books in languages other than English, please do let me know in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll edit them in.
As always, I don’t get any financial benefit from sharing these books, BUT if you buy though my Amazon Associates, I get a little cut of Amazon’s costs (don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the writers’ royalties, it just helps me).
Like last year, I’m going to start with a giveaway, courtesy of Microcosm Publishing. They sent me a copy of Pedal, Stretch, Breathe: The Yoga of Bicycling, by Kelli Refer, which was published in 2013, and if you’d like this book leave me a message below or tweet me at @_pigeons_, telling me you want it, and I’ll pull a name out of a hat for whoever gets the free copy on Friday 25th November. There’s another giveaway later in the post, too….
If you don’t win it, it can also be bought directly from Microcosm, and if you browse around the bike section of their catalogue, you’ll find all sorts of other books about bikes by other authors, as well as a whole section of bike zines. So what else have Microcosm published this year? All their books can be bought from their site in paperbacks, e-books and more – click through the title link for that, author interviews, little videos about the books and more.
The Velocipede Races by Emily June Street (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62106-058-1)
I am always delighted by the different genres Microcosm link bikes to – so a Young Adult Feminist Steampunk novel was always going to make me smile. Here’s how they describe it:
“Emmeline Escot knows that she was born to ride in Seren’s cutthroat velocipede races. The only problem: She’s female in a world where women lead tightly laced lives. Emmeline watches her twin brother gain success as a professional racing jockey while her own life grows increasingly narrow. Ever more stifled by rules, corsets, and her upcoming marriage of convenience to a brusque stranger, Emmy rebels—with stunning consequences. Can her dream to race survive scandal, scrutiny, and heartbreak?”
Urban Revolutions: A Woman’s Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation by Emilie Bahr (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62106-912-6)
They say “Emilie Bahr draws on her experience as an everyday cyclist and a transportation planner in New Orleans to demystify urban bicycling in this visually-compelling and fun-to-read field guide.
What does it mean for a city to be bike-friendly? What makes bicycling a women’s issue? What does it take to feel safe on a bike? How do you bike to work in the summer and still look professional? What is the most fun you can possibly have on two wheels without being athletic? Bahr answers all these questions and more in her friendly and thoughtful essays and detailed practical tips.”
Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save The Economy (Updated and Expanded) by Elly Blue (Microcosm Publishing, ISBN 978-162106-240-0)
This was first published back in 2013, but it’s been updated. Here’s the description:
“Elly Blue’s Bikenomics provides a surprising and compelling new perspective on the way we get around and on how we spend our money, as families and as a society. The book starts with a look at Americans’ real transportation costs, and moves on to examine the current civic costs of our transportation system. Blue tells the stories of people, businesses, organizations, and cities who are investing in two-wheeled transportation. The multifaceted North American bicycle movement is revealed, with its contradictions, challenges, successes, and visions.”
Microcosm is just the beginning of this year’s book list…! We have some very different autobiographies this year, with a focus on adventures, but starting with one that must have had a really quick turn-around, as it goes right up to August this year…
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny: The Inside Track (Michael O’Mara Books, ISBN 978-1782437963)
It’s the joint autobiography of the newly-married couple – with how they got into cycling, met each other, and the adventures they’ve had since, with, of course, the ten Olympic gold medals they have between them, and a whole drawer full of rainbow jerseys. The publisher doesn’t seem to be giving out review copies, so I can’t find reviews on the cycling sites, but you can watch them talk about the book, and I guess the type of thing that will be in it, on this clip from the Loose Women talk show.
Milla’s Inspiration, by Tony Frobisher
Laura Trott is also featured in another book, which might not be technically published this year, but I really want to promote it anyway, as it’s raising money for some great charities.
Tony Frobisher is a huge cycling fan, whose daughter Milla has spastic quadriplegia as a result of her extremely premature birth. Tony has raised over £30,000 through cycling-related challenges, for various charities that support other children like Milla, and their families, and the cookbooks are a part of it. He created the first one, Milla’s Cookbook, in 2003 – full of recipes from celebrities and famous people, and it was so successful, he made this one. It’s got over 120 recipes for comfort food, from all kinds of people including Jamie Oliver, lots of celebrities, and some awesome women cyclists, including Laura Trott, Lucinda Brand and Iris Slappendel.
Find out more about the book and buy it here – all the money raised goes to the charities. And if you want to follow Tony’s other bike adventures, follow his twitter (I absolutely adored his tweets of Milla meeting top cyclists like Marianne Vos and Helen Wyman at bike races – one of the highlights of my women’s cycling year).
Edit: Tony and family are going away in December, so if you want one in time for Christmas 2016, order it by the end of November… and of course, if you miss that cut-off, you can give it as a Happy 2017 present next year!
What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story, by Emily Chappell (Guardian Faber, ISBN: 978-1783350537)
I own this book, and I love it, and I interviewed Chappell about it last year, which you can listen to or read some of – but basically, it’s got so much in it. I love her relationship with London, and the parts that link to psychogeography, and the way she acknowledges the romantic view of bike couriers, even as she bursts that bubble – and I really liked her own journey, on the bike, and off. If you want another view, Feargal McKay reviewed the book on Podium Café – and I went on to interview Chappell about this year’s project, the Adventure Syndicate, in March, and in November.
Order via my Amazon Associates link.
It’s been a good year for Adventure Syndicate members, with
three four more books coming out – starting with two more autobiographies:
This Road I Ride: My incredible journey from novice to fastest woman to cycle the globe by Juliana Buhring (Piatkus, ISBN: 978-0349409078)
The title describes the book in a nutshell, but it’s about a lot more than that. Juliana Buhring‘s adventure was in the context of coming to terms with the death of someone she loved – and in her wider context of having grown up in a whole range of countries, as part of a childhood spent in a cult, and the book talks a lot about that. But it’s also about the kindness of strangers, how to go from novice to adventurer, vignettes of cycling through different countries, and of course, fitting around the weird Guiness Book of Records competition. I’ve read it myself, and I really love it.
Dare to Do: Taking on the planet by bike and boat, by Sarah Outen (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, ISBN 978-1857886412)
So, if cycling around the globe isn’t hardcore enough, how about getting around it only by human power? That’s what Sarah Outen’s book is about, and it sounds extraordinary. Her London2London expedition covered 25,000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere, by kayak, bike and rowing boat and took 4.5 year – but the book isn’t just about the success, it’s also about the problems and pitfalls on the way, including tropical storms, illness and depression, and how she worked through all of that.
UPDATE! Another Adventure Syndicate member’s 2016 book! Well, this was first published in 2013, but Word Power Books has brought out a new edition of it this year.
The Carbon Cycle: Crossing the Great Divide, by Kate Rawles (Word Power Books, ISBN 9780993463211)
Dr Kate Rawles has degrees in philosophy and environmental philosophy, and now spends part of her time as a lecturer in outdoor studies at the University of Cumbria, teaching environmental issues, and half time as a freelance outdoor philosopher, writer, lecturer and campaigner. In 2006 she cycled across North America along the Rocky Mountains, talking to as many people as she could about climate change – “from truck drivers to politicians”. The book is part travel book of course, and part examination of global warming and environmental issues, from a personal and philosophical level, and everything in between. There’s a lot more about it on Rawles’ website, including her journey diaries and photo gallery.
fourth fifth Adventure Syndicate member’s book is being crowd-funded as I type, but will be for sale on the Syndicate’s website after it’s been published:
MTB star Lee Craigie was 3rd overall (women and men) in this year’s Highland Trail 550, and started writing about her experiences in something that grew and grew, from a blog post into a journal with stories from Craigie and other riders, with some gorgeous-looking photos, that they’re publishing via crowd-funding. The initial Crowdfunder sold out it’s original goal within 24 hours, so the Syndicate has added stretch goals, with the proceeds going to help their work inspiring and enabling women and girls to have their own cycling adventures. The Crowd Funder closes on 22nd November, and if you miss that, the book will be for sale on the Adventure Syndicate’s website, once they get it published.
You can get a taste of this, in an interview with Craigie on Bikepacking.com, and because I love this book so much, I’m going to buy book via the crowdfunder as a giveaway to a blog reader – if you want a copy, tweet me or leave a comment below, and tell me you want it by 21st November 2016, and I’ll pick a name out of the hat for you.
Into the North Wind: A thousand-mile bicycle adventure across frozen Alaska, by Jill Homer (Arctic Glass Press, ISBN 978-0692789865)
Big thanks to bazzargh, who pointed me to this – it’s the story of what sounds like an absolutely jaw-dropping adventure, another ultra-endurance ride, this time across the snowy wastes of the Alaskan Iditarod Trail on a fatbike. Homer describes herself as an “accidental athlete”, and the journey wasn’t easy, but it’s an incredible achievement.
There are different versions – one with over 200 gorgeous-looking photos, which you can only order directly from Arctic Glass Press, or a standard paperback and Kindle edition, which you can order from my Amazon Associates link.
Mien, by Mariska Tjoelker (Thomas Rap, ISBN 9789400404120)
We all know the Netherlands is the top women’s cycling nation, so it’s hard to imagine a time when women weren’t allowed in Dutch races – and this book follows the story of Mien van Bree, who fought against that in the 1930s, became European Champion, and opened the doors for Dutch women to compete.
Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Kahn and Seth Solomonow (Viking, ISBN 978-0525429845)
Janette Sadik-Khan has had a really interesting career, with a degree in Political Science and a Doctorate of Law, and most famously helped transform New York City’s approach to the way streets are used, including, of course, the cycling revolution, as NYC’s Transportation from 2007–2013, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The book is all about her radical (and sometimes remarkably cheap) approaches to safe and liveable streets – and how if NYC can, any city can do the same. I read a lot of interviews with her, when it came out (for example, this one in the Guardian and from Citylab), and found it invigorating and breath-taking. It sounds so obvious, and to be honest, countries like the Netherlands and cities in Germany and Scandinavia have been doing it for years – but for the USA, the UK, Australia etc, we’re used to all the reasons why it’s impossible, so finding out how so much change happened in such a short space of time in a city like NYC is just inspiring.
Wheeler: The course of true love never did run smooth, by Sara Zelasky (CreateSpace, ISBN 978-1533356314)
How did I not know this existed? The Aviva Women’s Tour is a race that’s so special to me, as a British woman, as a cycling fan, and as something I’ve worked on – I adore it in every way. And there’s a novel set there that I didn’t know about???
Sara Butler Zelasky is a USA-based cyclist, and this is her first book. Damnit, I’m just going to quote her blurb, because I’m too excited to try to paraphrase:
“It’s mid-June as the Women’s Elite team of Innovative Design Cycling prepares for the Aviva Women’s Tour, beginning in Bury St. Edmunds, England. American cyclist, Loren Mackenzie reluctantly accepts her new role as team captain and inspires her teammates with her heart, spirit and tenacity after a disappointing showing in Philadelphia’s International Cycling Classic. While out on a training ride near Enfield, England, the Fates intervene with a bang, and the ball of Loren’s tightly wound life begins to unravel. After a seemingly chance meeting with a Knight in a Shining Jaguar, British actor Graham Atherton, each feels the undeniable draw toward the other, and their touch holds a sense of familiarity.
As the whirlwind romance between Loren and Graham intensifies, so does the media attention, much to Loren’s chagrin. The physical separation caused by both their careers doesn’t diminish their bond, and they discover just how deeply their souls are connected. The World Tour continues with races in Italy, France, and Germany, where Loren and her IDC team face struggles and achieve victory together.
But an insidious obsession stalks Loren, culminating in a terrifying confrontation that propels her into the darkness of her past, as Loren begins to recall memories she had long buried – for good reason. With Graham at her side, can Loren face the trauma of her past and vanquish the demons within, or will betrayal and obsession defeat them both?”
You can read the first chapter for free on the author blog… DO IT NOW!!! It’s available on Amazon Unlimited, if you do that kind of thing, but if you want to buy it for kindle or paperback, order it via my Amazon Associates link! Update! Feargal McKay’s review on Podium Café.
George’s Grand Tour, by Caroline Vermalle, translated by Anna Aitken (Belgravia Books, ISBN 9781908313737)
Another cycling novel, this time about an octogenarian who follows the route of the Tour de France, and forging a new relationship with his grand-daughter at the same time.
Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide to the Two-Wheeled Life, by Anna Brones (Ten Speed Press, ISBN 978-1607748830)
Every year it seems like there’s a new book aimed at people who are just starting to get into cycling, and I love that! I especially love that there are so many about everyday biking, and this one is very much focused at incorporating the bike into daily life, from commuting to leisure and holidays.
I’ve not seen this one, but I do love that it includes bike maintenance and DIY projects as well as the “how to”, so it seems like a book that can change with people, as they bike more, and differently.
Stumps and Cranks: A beginner’s dream, by Sonia Sanghani (Meyer & Meyer, ISBN 978-1782550884)
Another handbook aimed at beginner cyclists, but this is more specific – it’s about cycling as an amputee, aimed at adults and children, and covers a whole range of “how tos”, from equipment, to practicalities and safety, and health issues, to help people start cycling whether it’s for basic mobility, travel, leisure, or aiming at the Paralympics. It’s very wide-ranging, covering of course including two-wheel bikes, but also tricycles, recumbents, handbikes, tandems, unicycles, electric bikes, and getting even more specialised, so while it’s aimed at amputees, it can also be useful for people with other disabilities too.
It’s written by Sonia Sanghani, and I love her reasons for writing it:
“You know sometimes how you want to read a book about something but you can’t find one? That is what happened when I started to learn how to ride a bicycle for a charity fundraiser. I am not a natural writer (in fact, I find it really difficult!) so when I was asked to actually write the book I thought everyone was joking. Until I realised they weren’t. And as I so desperately DID want to read a book on amputee cycling it seemed the only thing to do was to try and write it.”
and it includes contributions from amputee cyclists in the world, including time triallist Margaret Biggs, triathlete Rajesh Durbal, mountaineer Mark Inglis, and adventurer and Chief Executive of Limb Power Keira Roche.
There’s a crowdfunder to donate copies of the book to UK hospitals and amputee organisations, so please do consider contributing to that. There’s also a website full of useful UK information and organisations, including how to buy bikes, and organisations that can help people get started, or even just try things out, and they have a great twitter, too.
Queens of Cycling, by Thomas Maheux
For the last two years, French photographer Thomas Malheux has been taking photos at some of the top road races in the world, including the women’s peloton, and getting some beautiful pictures of the top riders in the world, which you can see on his website, and now in a gorgeous-looking 106 page journal, with words in English and French.
Races include Flèche Wallonne, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, the Aviva Women’s Tour, the Route de France and the European Cycling Championships, which were raced by the best of the best, and he has lovely backstage as well as road-side shots. Superstars that are especially featured include Elisa Longo Borghini, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Elena Cecchini.
Cyclocross 2014/5, by Bálint Hamvas
I always love Bálint Hamvas’ photography, which you can find for the 2016 women’s road season on the Vélofocus website, which is a collaboration between him and Sean Robinson, and on his own site, cyclephotos.co.uk.
Balint has been covering the cyclocross seasons for the last 5 or 6 years, taking gorgeous photos and writing about his experiences covering the races, and the books are wonderful records of the seasons, with articles from really interesting people – journalists, riders, fans – and he’s always included women’s cyclocross at the heart of it. I genuinely can’t praise him enough – as a person, photographer and an example of how fans can make their own media to celebrate and help grow the sport.
Buy his latest cyclocross album from his webshop, and if you want to know more about him, listen to my podcast interview with him from December last year – and check out Feargal McKay’s review of the album on Podium Café.
Ultimate Étapes: Ride Europe’s Greatest Cycling Stages, by Peter Cossins, photos by Ashley and Jered Gruber (Aurum Press/Quarto, ISBN 978-1781315903)
The book is a look at 25 iconic pro stages linked to make a theoretical Tour of Europe, but what grabs me about this is that the photos are by super-photographer couple Ashley Gruber and Jered Gruber. I’ve long admired their photography, so when I got to meet them at the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, of course I was a gushing fangirl – but I’ll defend that all the way, because wow, their work is spectacular. (It’s interesting, it often gets attributed to Jered only, even though their website, which annoys Jered a lot). The book might have good writing – check out Cycling Alps‘ great review on Podium Café – but the photography is gorgeous, and if I was in the market for a coffee-table book, I’d buy it just for that.
I never realised there were so many Adult Colouring Books about cycling, but it seems to be This Year’s Thing. Ones I’ve seen by women in my brief look include Free Your Mind. A Bicycle Colouring Book by Polly Stubley, Beloved Bicycles Adult Coloring Book: 25 Photographs to Color by Claire Nelson, and Bicycle Sketches: Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Relax by Daisy Z.
But I have to say, the ones that look best to my (completely know-nothing, untrained eye) even thought they’re (gasp!) not by women look like Richard Mitchelson’s Grand Tour – A Two-wheeled, Chain-driven Interactive Artistic Adventure (have a look inside, on Road.cc, but surely everyone knows of Rich Mitch?), Colouring the Tour de France, by the very lovely William Fotheringham (the women’s cycling connection is his always awesome journalism and TV commentating!) and James Nunn (Road.cc looks inside – and Nunn’s tumblr showing the process of making it) and the very different, but gorgeous-looking The Bicycle Coloring Book: Journey to the Edge of the World by Shan Jiang (again, Road.cc gives us a look inside).
Halve a look inside a lot of these, and more, in Feargal McKay’s collection on Podium Café.
Eat, Sweat, Play: How sport can change our lives, by Anna Kessel (PanMacmillan, ISBN ISBN: 9781509808090)
This isn’t a cycling-specific book, but Simon Blackwell recommended it, so I’m adding it in! Anna Kessel is a sports writer for top UK newspapers the Guardian & the Observer, and is the co-founder and Chair of Women in Football, and organisation for women who work in football (soccer to my USA friends).
Kessel’s book looks at being a sporty woman in the 21st century, from media and celebrity to how a lot of sport is still seen as the domain of men – and asks questions like these:
“But if sweating has never been so hot for female celebrities, then why are there still so many obstacles for girls and women when it comes to sport? Why do girls still hate school sports lessons? Why is sport consistently defined as male territory, with TV cameras replicating the male gaze as they search out the most beautiful women in the crowd? Will women ever flock to watch football, rugby and boxing in their millions? Or turn up to the park with friends for a Sunday morning kickabout? How long do we have to wait to see the first multi-millionaire female footballer or basketball player?”
Casquette is a brand-new free women’s cycling magazine, that as of now has only had one issue, but it looks glossy and great, and you can check it out on their website – sections for style, people, know-how and flavours might give you an idea of it, but you can read the articles too. You can get copies of it posted to you from the website for shipping costs only, and there’s a long list of (mostly London-based) places you can pick it up for free, all on this page.
Update! Another one! Thanks Elisabeth for the recommendation
Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History, by Molly Schiot (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1501137099)
This one is fascinating, and very 2016. It started off as an instagram account dedicated to sharing stories of amazing female athletes, and it’s now a book, with tons of photos, and spotlights on sportswomen, writers, policymakers and more. It will be published on 1st December, so I don’t know how many cyclists it has, and it does look USA-focused, but that’s not a problem! It looks like it’ll be great – you can read an interview with her on espnW.
Order a copy in advance with my Amazon Affiliates link.
As always, huge thanks to Feargal McKay, for suggestions of books to go in this year’s list. Feargal runs the Podium Café Bookshelf, which is full of reviews of cycling books, from the sublime to the ridiculous (I’m always grateful to him for reading the awful ones, so we don’t have to!). If you want more cycling book gift ideas, head over and read the reviews – and Feargal also wrote The Complete Guide to the Tour de France (Aurum Press, ISBN 978-1781312650) which is the only TdF book I’ll ever recommend! Feargal and I both contributed to Bike! A Tribute to the World’s Greatest Cycling Designers, edited by Richard Moore and Daniel Benson (Aurum Press, ISBN 9781781310113). Neither Feargal nor I will get royalties if you buy it (though I’d get a small cut if you bought it via my Amazon Associates link), but if you want the history of bike brands, and some really weird and wonderful stories, this is the one for you.
If I’ve missed any 2016 women’s cycling-ish books, please do tell me, either in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll edit them in. And this is just Part 1 of my 2016 Gift Guide, so check back on the site for more over the next few weeks (if you have things you think I should include, let me know too!). More here:
- 2016 Gift Guide part 2: things made by, with and to benefit professional women cyclists
- 2016 Gift Guide part 3: things you can buy (or donate to) that supports ‘everyday’ women’s cycling, for all kinds of women
I’m funded to do this kind of thing by my wonderful Patreon supporters, who pay me for my women’s cycling work from as little as £/$/€2 a month – if you’d like to join them, you can do so over here, but I’m forever grateful to them.