If those were too chewy and literary for you, pick up a copy of The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles written by Jan Heine and photographed by Jean-Pierre Praderes. I get no kickback on this one, but if you're a biker and don't have it, go find a credit card. The drool-worthy studio photography alone would be enough to recommend this book, but the text also takes the reader through a part of bicycle history that probably isn't too familiar to the average American biker. I know I was surprised to find that the comfortable, fast, light, fully-accessorized bikes I've been hoping/searching for over the last decade had already been designed and built by the French over a half-century ago. Who knew? Well, Jan Heine, for one.
Shifting gears (okay, I confess, pun intended) from photography to illustration, take a flip through William Nealy's Mountain Bike!
As long as I'm in a how-to mode, I really like a book by Robert Hurst and Marla Streb that's now on its second printing and second title. My old-school copy is The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons From The Street, while the latest printing has morphed into The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America:
And, since I've mentioned the word Zen, I'm now contractually obligated as a bike writer to say something about fixed-gear bikes, messengers, or both. Luckily, Travis Hugh Culley has my back:
Culley was on the street delivering packages (yes, that's what those big bags are for, hipster fakengers) on a bike before messengering was a "culture" you could buy as a ready-made Specialized Langster in your choice of "cityways." Some of THC's "noble, wheeled proletariat" shtick starts to wear on me after a while, but I still found myself immersed in his story and glad to have a glimpse into a corner of the cycling world I'll never get to experience on my own. I always want to figure out a way to quit my job and earn a salary in the saddle when I put this book down -- which will probably motivate my wife to hide it when she reads this.
So there you have it: Six ways to stave off winter insanity in a handy, portable paper form -- 100% eyeball-compatible with no wi-fi, 3G or Kindle required. Happy reading!