Category Archives: Books

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

I recently finished reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. I first became aware of the book at a Barnes and Noble a few years ago. I thought about buying it then because I like bikes and I like Talking Heads but I decided not to. I was browsing at my library when I ran across it again and I thought it would be a good time to read it.

The book seems to based on the author’s view of different cities as he sees them from his bike. The title is very fitting. From what I understand he generally takes a bike when he travels – either on his tour bus or a folding bike in a suitcase. Some of the cities we learn about are Berlin, Manila, London and Sydney. The only populated continent not represented is Africa.

As I was reading I realized the book was a little older by the many references to the Bush (W) presidency. I am not left wondering which way the author leans politically. I think the book was written over a period of time and over many different places. It is interesting to get the view of the citizens of other nations and I think that is a really cool part of the book.

The real meat of the book, and the part that interested me, was the writing about biking. I got to vicariously ride throughout cities all over the world. Some cities are easy to bike, and some are difficult. Biking (or walking) gives a different perspective of a city than a car does. And in some cities it is faster than driving. The thoughts that come to the author while biking lead to many cool insights and tangents.

The idea of bringing a fold up bike traveling is an intriguing one. It can save quite a bit of cab or bus fare, and it allows you to see the city on your own terms.

In the back of the book the author has some sketches of bike racks he designed for New York City (his place of residence). They are meant for specific areas – for example a dollar sign for Wall Street. I think this is a good idea. It is public and functional art.

If you like travel books and semi-random musings this might be a book to consider reading. I enjoyed it. You can check it out at your local library or at the official site here.

Dear American Airlines & Young Stalin

I recently wrapped up two books that didn’t have much in common. One was Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. The other was Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I thouroghly enjoyed both books.

Dear American Airlines is in the form of a letter requesting a refund while the passenger and author, Bennie, is stuck at O’Hare Airport in Chicago on the way to his estranged daughter’s wedding in LA.  Continue reading

Smiles of a Summer Night, Encounters at the End of the World, & Battleship Potemkin

I had a long weekend over the holiday so I decided went to the library to stock up on things to keep me busy. I read one book and watched three movies.

The Millionaire Next Door

I read this book as it is highly recommended in personal finance circles. It is a bit old but still had a lot to offer. The section about car buying really had me chuckling as it involves newspaper ads and facsimile machines. The main message I took away from it was that living below your means can really add up. It was also interesting to note the differences between first generation affluent and subsequent generations. It is food for thought for the affluent with children. I also liked the breakdown between prodigious accumulators of wealth and under accumulators of wealth. I would recommend this book.

Smiles of a Summer Night

From Smiles of a Summer Night Source:

1955 by Ingmar Bergman. This is the second movie I have seen by this director (The first was The Seventh Seal). I enjoyed this film a lot. It was playful. The acting was good and I enjoyed the story. I also like films set in places and times that I am unfamiliar with. In this case it was turn of the century Sweden. The Swedish word for lawyer is “advokat” which is very similar to the Polish word “adwokat” which also means lawyer.

I liked this movie and I am 2 for 2 with this director. I will have to search out more of his work.

 Encounters at the End of the World

2007 by Werner Herzog. This is a documentary about Antarctica and is primarily concerned with the people that live there. It was interesting to see the people who spend time down there. One of the characters said it best when he mentioned that people who don’t fit anywhere else fall down to the bottom of the world. One of the inhabitants that piqued my interest was the man who always has a bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. He even has a rubber raft and paddle in there. It mentioned that he escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and was making the most of freedom.

The scenery of Antarctica was beautiful. I am partial to snow and cold over heat. The place looks so peaceful and quiet. It would be an interesting place to visit but not necessarily live.

Battleship Potemkin

1925 by Sergei Eisenstein. A silent propaganda film. And a good one to boot. It really sets the stage of the common man against the privileged. Includes the famous shot on the Odessa Steps. It was fairly short but still packed a good punch. It would have been a tough life to be a sailor at that time. And the food wouldn’t have been the greatest either.