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Bicycle Diaries Hardcover – 17 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; 1 edition (17 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021147
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 15.4 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,268,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne - the frontman of the legendary Talking Heads - is an enchanting travelogue from a cult figure in contemporary music. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Since the early 1980s, David Byrne has been riding a bike as his principal means of transportation in New York City. Two decades ago, he discovered folding bikes, and starting taking them on tour. Byrne’s choice was made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation it provided. Convinced that urban biking opens one’s eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population, Byrne began keeping a journal of his observations and insights. An account of what he sees and who he meets as he pedals through metropolises from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Istanbul to San Francisco, Manila to New York, Bicycle Diaries also records Byrne’s thoughts on world music, urban planning, fashion, architecture, cultural dislocation, and much more, all with a highly personal mixture of humour, curiosity, and humility. Part-travelogue, part-journal, part-photo album, Bicycle Diaries is an eye-opening celebration of seeing the world at bike level. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By JS on 15 Sep 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Byrne is a committed cycling campaigner who takes bikes with him as he travels the world, mainly to the cities where his musical and artistic work takes him. When he has time off, he uses his bike - usually a full-size folding mountain bike he puts in a suitcase to travel on planes - to wander about and explore. It is this aspect of the book which most interested me, because he seems to be a practitioner of the derive, the engaged but directionless wander first proposed by the situationists as a suitable way to move through cities.

As the title suggests, the material for the book evolved in diary form over time, and the structure of the book reflects this. It is right, and true to the material, that this should be so, but it does mean that the various entries are of variable quality. Nevertheless, books of this kind, where an intelligent and engaged observer with a liberal agenda but no particular end in mind takes a close look at localities, are scarce indeed. In the hands of a travel writer, or a journalist, a totally different book would have emerged, but actually, this is the book I wanted.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By GreyBrother on 25 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has a dual identity, part travelogue, and part common-sense examination of what makes a pleasant, liveable city, and what doesn't. I found this to be a refreshingly straightforward approach, and far more interesting than the average travel memoir.

Byrne is particularly good when examining U.S. cities, from the horrific but fascinating decline of Detroit, to the hopeful reinvention of New York. One excellent passage in particular sticks in the mind:

"Since the onslaught of the automobile in the middle of the last century, and the efforts of its enablers, like Robert Moses in New York, the accepted response to congestion has been to build more roads, especially roads that are high speed and with limited access. Eventually it became clear that building more roads doesn't actually relieve congestion - ever. More cars simply appear to fill these new roads and more folks imagine that their errands and commutes might be accomplished more easily on these new expressways. Yeah, right. People end up driving more, so instead of the existing traffic levels remaining constant and becoming dispersed on the new ribbons of concrete, the traffic simply increases until those too are filled. That's what New York and a lot of other cities are realizing now. The old paradigm is finally being abandoned."

Thank goodness for that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Joanna F. Dalietos on 14 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Byrne surprised me by being so enjoyably readable. This book is a wonderful travelogue. Its quirky as it gives a cyclists view of the major cities he visits, but he also writes in a very free way about really varied topics. His style meanders somewhat like the bikerides he takes, he speaks of architecture, local history, politics, the art scenes,and interesting meetings and evenings out with characters met along the way. He is a knowledgeable chap,and does not seem so avante garde in print. If you liked the Talking Heads, or bike riding, or travel, or all three such as me, you will enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Briddock on 19 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
David Byrne is better known for his music than his writing output. Although he's authored quite a few books this one stands out as one of his more mainstream offerings.

It's a book driven by, and full of, a passion for cycling and written by a practising pedal-head. Someone who's enthusiastically used a bicycle as a principal form transportation in his native New York since the early 1980s. And who endeavours to explore various parts of the world in the same human-powered manner.

The first chapter is a wide-ranging, and rather nostalgic, exploration into a number of American Cities. Unfortunately, he encounters many rather frustrating, disconnected rides through communities chopped into ghettos by massive concrete ribbons.

Subsequent chapters are dedicated to one particular city. As seen from a cyclist perspective, it offers a new way of exploring and interacting with cities you might already have some knowledge about. His artistic eye picks out the unconventional, the significant, the sublime and the striking across the urban landscape and in the local art, music and film culture.

Always a deep thinker, his views are heartfelt and expressed with zeal - at times in an intensely earnest discourse. His observations and very personal points of view are enhanced by a collection of text-embedded photographs. As you might expect, the majority of these images are very different to the usual tourist fare, and interesting in their own right.

It's a brilliantly eccentric and highly personal book, delivered in a lovely embossed cloth cover. Even the epilogue entertains with its look into the future of transportation, and an eye catching selection of drawings illustrating some of his bike rack designs - many of which now adorn the streets of NewYork.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Illy on 20 Jan 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked it. Meandering. lateral, about lots of things, but not one thing in particular. I went off David Byrne after Talking Heads. I like him a bit better now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. P. Royal on 30 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating perspective on some of the major cities from a different angle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the discussions/points raised about Urban planning and regeneration. Well worth reading.
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