It’s All About The Bike by Robert Penn

Bike

This book was lent to me by a co-worker. We’re both keen cyclists and so he passed this along after finishing it. Only a thin book it’s a quick read – completed on a Sunday afternoon with the FA Cup games on in the background. But a quick read doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth reading. It follows the journey of one man to build his perfect bike as he travels the globe going to all the top component manufacturers. Along the way he drops in details about the history and development of the bicycle. He clearly loves bikes, and that passion drives the book along. By the end I knew a lot more about bikes, and also felt a tad jealous I didn’t have a dream machine of my own

(ssshhhh,..don’t tell my bike I said that)

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Pedalare! Pedalare! by John Foot

Pedalare

Okay – so it’s not that I’ve read two books in a day but rather that I’ve been a bit slack on blogging about it. For my next book it was a change of emphasis and I picked up a cycling title. Italians have always had a big place in the history of the sport and the link between cycling, culture and history is what this book sought to explore. You can’t help but feel that there’s a really great book to be written on this topic. Sadly, despite this being an interesting read, this book isn’t it, Too much was glossed over and yet, at the same time, too many points were repeated over and over (things were explained two or three times in the course of as many pages) Having said all that the topic was so interesting, the characters so larger than life, and the passion so intense it was still a fun journey through some of the greatest moments in the sport’s history.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Habit

Hmmm….not sure what happened here but I posted this and then it disappeared. So let’s try again. This book was recommended in a tweet by someone I work with so I thought I’d pick it up. It’s another one of those books that’s useful in work conversations – particularly when I’m facilitating training sessions. Some of the arguments and examples are stronger than others but overall it’s a good read. I found the model around how habits are created to be particularly useful.

Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice by Matthew Syed

BounceA change of direction for the next book and away from history. Bounce started off as an interesting read but sadly couldn’t maintain it throughout the whole book. The initial theory was that there’s no such thing as talent and that what separates the best from the rest is merely the amount of practice they’ve put in. It was certainly a thought provoking thesis and may come in handy during conversations in my training sessions at work. It wasn’t 100% convincing but then Syed comes across as what he is – a sportsman turned journalist who is writing a popularised version of other people’s ideas. I’m sure the many people he quotes (at length) provide better backing. The final section though was a meandering disappointment of opinion pieces of sporting hot topics. They didn’t really bring anything to the party other than to pad out the book and bring it all to a rather disappointing conclusion.

Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War by John Stubbs

Reprobates

I hadn’t meant to follow some sort of 17th century theme but that’s how things have worked out with book two. This book followed the lives of several minor characters before, during and after the civil war. It was interesting to hear about their lives, the social and political aspects of what they did and what they believed in. There were some details about the war in here but this was not a political history. Instead it was about a group of people who have been much maligned over the years. I won’t say that they didn’t deserve a lot of it – they certainly seem worthy of scorn through a lot of this book – but it did highlight a more human, more real and more interesting side to the Cavaliers.

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin

Image

First book out of the blocks was this biography of Samuel Pepys. Short of the fact he wrote a diary and once hid his parmesan cheese in his garden to escape the fire of London I didn’t know all that much about Pepys. I certainly hadn’t explored his actual writings. This biography was written by the same person who wrote a biography of Dickens that I read last year – which made me want to explore some of her other books. Overall I really enjoyed it – there was plenty of interesting information about his life and about the times in which he lived. Unlike some biographies I didn’t feel like the author was trying to push an agenda or make some tenuous link to current events. We’re off to a good start.

Once upon a time…

Right then. New Year New Me. That’s how it’s supposed to work right? Well perhaps not quite that dramatic but here goes. The aim of this blog is to help me to keep up with, and record, my resolution to read more in 2013. Specifically to read at least one book a week. So that means that 12 months from now I’ll have read 52 books – or more.

So then, what are the rules? Well it’s not a bet so there aren’t many. They have to be books with words – so colouring books and pop-up books and such like aren’t acceptable. On the other hand though I’m not planning on reading War and Peace every week. The books will be chosen at random as I go through the year and will reflect my own personal tastes. Although I’ll try to vary it a little that means plenty of history and cycling books. The rough aim is one book a week but there may be times when I read a little quicker or a little slower. The end goal is what’s important not so much the pacing of it.

On here I’ll record my progress. I’ll also talk, briefly, about the books I’m reading. Don’t expect a book review site though rather a quick overview.

Okay. Off we go.