Recommended Reading by Laura Lent, Adult Collections Coordinator, San Francisco Public Library

Looking for a way to wind down after that brisk winter ride home from work? Wondering what on earth to give your friends for the holidays? Allow us to tempt you with the following selection of bike-related histories, memoirs, and manuals.

Divorce Your Car!: Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile
by Katie Alvord
The most comprehensive book of its kind, Divorce Your Car! traces the history of auto addiction, outlines the tragic results, and lays out a veritable 12-step program for recovery.

It is enlivened by interesting quotes, anecdotes, statistics, examples, and resource lists. You will argue better for the cause after you read this book. (And see the special SFBC members' discount offer below!)

Two Wheels North: Cycling the West Coast in 1909
by Evelyn McDaniel Gibb
In 1909, Vic McDaniel and Ray Francisco, just out of high school, set out from Santa Rosa on second-hand bikes, bound for the great Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle. Their 54-day adventure was covered by the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat and is recounted here by Vic's daughter Evelyn.

The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power
by Travis Culley
Critically-acclaimed memoir by a Chicago bike messenger about his craft and his unfolding awareness of how transportation affects community. A poetic and thrilling account, with many parallels to the San Francisco scene.

A Plain Life: Walking My Life
by Scott Savage
The story of a couple who give up a fast-paced New York life to raise their children in a small Quaker community in Barnesville, Ohio. The author walks for eight days across the state to turn in his driver's license. "I feel I must give up as entirely as possible that quintessential means of obliterating places - the automobile." While his Christian faith may not appeal to all readers, this is a thoughtful critique of consumerism and the automobile by someone who walks his talk.

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
by Andrew X. Pham
Award-winning memoir by a young Vietnamese-American who uses a bicycle journey in his homeland as a way to tell his eventful life story. As a child, Pham fled Vietnam with his family and settled in California. Here he chronicles his return to Vietnam, his travels on a rickety bike, and his search for cultural identity.

How to Rock and Roll: A City Rider's Repair Manual
by Sam Tracy
A highly attitudinal urban bike repair and riding manual criss-crossed with radical social and cultural commentary. Unlike most repair manuals, Tracy's is chatty and enjoyable to read cover to cover; it should be used in conjunction with the diagrams and idiot-proof approach of the more traditional repair books.


Divorce Your Car! author Katie Alvord is offering a special deal to SFBC members. While supplies last, you can purchase autographed copies of her book for $15 (16% off retail), and she will donate 50 cents per copy back to the SFBC. Not only that, but she'll cover shipping costs as well. If you'd like to take advantage of this offer, send your check for $15 per copy (made out to Katie Alvord) along with instructions on how you'd like your book(s) signed to:

SFBC Book Offer, c/o Katie Alvord
P.O. Box 516
Houghton, MI 49931-0516
All books will be shipped after December 1. Be sure your envelope is postmarked by December 7 for delivery by the holidays. For more information on this witty book, visit