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Bicycle Diaries

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  4,419 Ratings  ·  680 Reviews
A renowned musician and visual artist presents an idiosyncratic behind-the-handlebars view of the world's cities. 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 started taking them on tour. Byrne's choice was made out of convenience rather than political m ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published September 17th 2009 by Viking (first published 2008)
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Miles from Nowhere by Barbara SavageHell on Two Wheels by Amy SnyderBe Brave, Be Strong by Jill HomerBicycle Diaries by David ByrneThe Lost Cyclist by David V. Herlihy
Bike Books
69 books — 41 voters
Full Tilt by Dervla MurphyMiles from Nowhere by Barbara SavageThunder  Sunshine by Alastair HumphreysCatfish and Mandala by Andrew X. PhamMoods Of Future Joys by Alastair Humphreys
Bike Travel
45 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 10, 2011 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociological
Most of this is only tangentially about bicycling. Byrne is just too interested about too many different things to stick with one topic, and that was fine with me. He bounces giddily between reflections on city planning, geography, history, contemporary art, cultural anthropology, music, etc. The section about Manila and Buenos Aires in particular are extremely interesting, I had no idea about the weird personality cult/pseudo-religion that had developed around the Marcos's, or the bizarre hodge ...more
Nov 29, 2009 Jeremy rated it it was ok
Several reviewers have covered elements of this book including...

-its discursiveness (it is indeed, a pastiche of blog-like musings and observations)
-the fact that it is only tangentially about the subject alluded to in the title, the bicycle
-the fact that David Byrne is a liberal Renaissance man whose thoughts are generally more interesting and insightful than those of the average world citizen (sure, fine... I was a Talking Heads fan too, and even a liberal in most scenarios)

I've seen few rev
Oct 28, 2009 Rebekah rated it did not like it
What a complete disappointment. I was so looking forward to reading weird random bicycle musings by David Byrne, but alas, his brain these days is less interesting than my own. I guess he's good at putting his thoughts into the ambiguous and metaphorical terms well-suited to song, but when he tries to spell them out in writing and "back them up with supporting evidence," well, he should leave it to those who understand the supporting evidence well enough to say something meaningful and interesti ...more
Feb 12, 2010 Splendy rated it it was amazing
This book is as much about what defines the culture of cities as it is about bicycling. I’ve read David Byrne’s blog for years, and much of the blog content ended up in the book. He has this way of writing that is amazingly informative without being pretentious. He’s just really, really cool. And that shows in a seemingly effortless way.

This isn’t just another boring travelogue that leaves you feeling frustrated that someone would take the time to explain all the reasons why you should or shoul
Jun 06, 2009 Tosh rated it liked it
A neither or nor type of book for me. A lot of times David Byrne writes about the obvious, and other times he is responding to something that is interesting and he has something to say about it. The title is not really what the book is about. Although there is some bicycle riding stuff - but mostly it is Byrne commenting on pop and political culture of various areas of the world.

On one level it is sort of like getting a post card from a distant land and Byrne is noticing stuff because he's an o
Jan 03, 2010 Bernie rated it really liked it
I ride my bike to work nearly every day that is above 20 degrees and not raining or snowing. I also ride to other places and take long trips on my own or with my wife on our tandem. I LOVE to bicycle! My daughter knows this too, and that it was very thoughtful of her to select this book to give to me as a Christmas present. It was a thought-provoking book whose conclusions gave me pause even when I disagreed with some.

As a bicyclist myself, I like that he focused on the act of bicycling—the enj
Feb 07, 2017 Carola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Daniela Ponce
Shelves: gringolandia
Me encantó este libro. ¡Quiero ser amiga de David Byrne! Pensamos muy parecido. Ay, qué ganas de rodearme de artistas como él. Definitivamente, me animaré a conseguir "How music works". De niña, la bicicleta y yo éramos una sola. Luego, de grande, al regresar a mi ciudad natal -casi terminando los veintisiempre-, andaba casi todos los días en bici, rodeando el borde costero al atardecer, hasta... que me atropellaron. Y si bien no me pasó nada más que uno que otro corte, le agarré miedo. Y lo que ...more
Oct 24, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone

Although I am a huge fan of the movie True Stories, I primarily think of David Byrne as a member of Talking Heads. Although I vaguely knew that he continued to work as a solo artist, I did not follow this phase of his career. Bicycle Diaries is the first of his books that I have read.

The book is about using a bicycle of course, but more importantly it is about how architecture, urban planning (or mis-planning) and people make the places that we live and work in habitable, desirable, or just plai
Oct 11, 2009 Keith rated it it was amazing
I asked the library to get this book something like half a year ago, as soon as I found out it was coming out. when it finally was released and the library had a copy for me I got it and devoured it. I'm a fan of david byrne, as much or even more of his work after the talking heads, and I'm a fan of bicycles, so a book full of david byrnes musings about riding a bike through a bunch of different cities around the world seemed like a winner to me, and so it was. While it may seem a bit silly... r ...more
E Sweetman
Aug 20, 2010 E Sweetman rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, travel and bicyle lovers especially
Recommended to E by: library find
I loved this book. It was a quick read, very interesting and now I AM DYING FOR A FOLDING BICYCLE! I know I can pay better attention to life around me and see interesting things in typically boring places. I know I'll be able to find a concrete box building with just one metal door and a lightbulb affixed to the side of it as its only decoration fascinating if I am riding on a folding bicycle. I just know it.
The lovely character of this book is that you feel as though your alongside Mr. Byrne. H
antónio alves
"David Byrne é mundialmente conhecido pelo seu trabalho como músico na banda Talking Heads, nos anos 80. Foi o responsável por distribuir internacionalmente grandes nomes do que se convencionou chamar de world music (sobretudo música da América Latina) . Também se dedicou a uma série de projetos nas artes plásticas, no teatro e no cinema, colaborando com nomes como Caetano Veloso, Marisa Monte, Thwyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, Jonathan Demme e Bernardo Bertolucci.

"Diário da Bicicleta" é uma compilaç
Dec 07, 2010 Jana rated it really liked it
David Byrne is such a cool charming person. But a man who sings Home can’t be anything else. I love this sweet and smart blog-alike-book, because my best without a heartbeat friend is my little bikey. During the summer time I do bike marathons all over my county. Bunch of my friends are nuts over marathons/bikes as much as I am, and it’s 30-80 km in a day, and afterwards is beers and laughs. I love that feeling of exhaustion, bonding with other people in our journeys, when the heat is unbearable ...more
May 15, 2015 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, own-copy
Despite the book being called Bicycle Diaries, there is far more to this than tales of David Byrne adventures riding around various cities, in fact the actual cycle rides are a small, though interesting, part of this book.

This book covers David's thoughts and ideas on urban planning, architecture, class, what music and art are and so much more, and as such is a really interesting and thought provoking book. There is little about his music in the book, but this actually feels right.

I really enjoy
James Cridland
Mar 24, 2012 James Cridland rated it really liked it
I knew that David Byrne had something to do with music, but didn't actually know more than that (shhh) - 67% of the way in, he drops into the narrative that he was, of course, one of the founders of Talking Heads.

Impressive, then, that this book isn't called Road to Nowhere: it's a meandering and rather self-indulgent book; part travelogue, part social commentary, part political activism; part back-slapping prose - all using the construct of a bicycle trip or two.

Byrne, who lives in New York, ha
Dec 08, 2009 Christopher rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, bicycles
Guys, I'm sad to say that I didn't even finish it!

It wasn't what I expected. It wasn't about bicycles or bicycling as much as it was simply about Byrne's impressions and thoughts of different cities. Cities that he happened to travel through while on a bicycle.

I liked the "faster than a walk, slower than a train, often slightly higher than a person" passage from the introduction, but lost interest shortly thereafter.

It's very choppy, and not very cohesive. It's as though he literally did copy a
Interesting book with some good points though boring in some parts. Not my cup of tea.
Oct 26, 2012 Alan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Green thinkers and wobbly, squeaky wheels...
Recommended to Alan by: A long and illustrious career
You know his name, or ought to. David Byrne is a multitalented musician, writer, filmmaker and all-around artist. He's probably still best known for his performances with the band Talking Heads, even after all these years, but that's only been a small part of his long and illustrious career.

And he really walks (or rather rides) his talk. In Bicycle Diaries, Byrne goes on another world-wide tour, but it's not about the music this time. Or, at least, the music takes a back seat. This time, Byrne t
Jan 07, 2010 Stan rated it liked it
This is a book of David Byrne's musings while riding his bicycle in cities around the world. There is nothing particularly earthshaking here, but it is fascinating to observe this obviously brilliant man's open, active, free-ranging mind as he considers, well, whatever comes to mind. He describes his ride through Detroit as heartbreaking. He argues that what we build says something about who we are, and to some extent shapes what we become. He is saddened that old architecture is being replaced ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am passionate about cycling, not in a macho or, heaven forbid, a lycra-clad way, it is quite simply my favourite mode of transport for getting from A to B. If I can use my bicycle then I will - and frequently do.

If I rank my preferred ways of travelling it goes:

Ferry, boat etc

Rather wonderfully David Byrne feels the same way (although he is more extreme). We are cut from the same cloth - not a statement I ever expected to make. David takes his bicycle e
Jul 11, 2012 Sue rated it liked it
This is a pleasant memoir of David Byrne’s visits – with bicycle – to a variety of cities. I think he would make a fine travel companion because he has such regard for the people and cultures of the places he visits. In fact, I backed into this book in an unusual way. When the author visited my home city, Pittsburgh, he went to see the Maxo Vanka murals, a set of remarkable paintings in a Croatian Catholic church in an off-beat location. It’s the kind of place the locals don’t even know so well, ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Karima rated it liked it
The author is arguably most associated with his role as a founding member and principal songwriter of the American new wave band Talking Heads,(active between 1975 and 1991.) As a fan of the TH (esp. his version of Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In") and an admirerer of Byrne's artistic sensibilities, I expected more from this book.
The title is misleading. Byrne travels a great deal and is an avid cyclist. I thought the book would be more like a journal; observations of sites seen and things hear
May 14, 2015 Pustulio rated it really liked it
Creo que entre más "conozco" a Byrne más lo admiro. No me canso, el tipo se nota que es super inteligente.

Este libro habla acerca de sus experiencias mientras anda en bici en diferentes lugares del mundo. Unos que describe con una belleza increíble y otros que se nota no le gustaron tanto.

Me gusta cuando se clava con la historia del lugar, se nota que hace investigación. Es un libro muy entretenido y yo lo escuché, que tiene un super plus, porque es narrado por él. De igual manera tiene música
Byrne travels a lot and whenever he arrives in a place he spends some time cycling around. While very little of this book is literally about things seen from a cyclists point of view, his views on cities designed for driving and the privatisation of public spaces are linked to that perspective. I don't think he is critical enough, sharp enough about accountability for urban decay in the US. He's too mild mannered! But what can you do but be grateful for a broadly anti-colonial anti-corporate voi ...more
Mercurio Cadena
Mar 27, 2015 Mercurio Cadena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantástica narración de la experiencia e intereses de un ciclista en distintas ciudades del mundo.

Si bien se habla de lo que se vive pedaleando, también se tocan temas como urbanismo, música, política, filosofía y biología; en términos casuales, sin pretención, pero tampoco con especulaciones baratas.

Sólo me duele que no haya incluido a la Ciudad de México, cuando por distintas referencias queda claro que el autor sí la ha visitado. Creo que esta Ciudad podría ser fuentes de lindísimos y/o emo
Nathalia Borghi
Oct 15, 2015 Nathalia Borghi rated it it was amazing
deveria ser leitura obrigatória pra qualquer estudante de arquitetura e urbanismo. aprendi mais com ele sobre viver em uma boa cidade e perceber problemas urbanos do que em cinco anos de faculdade.
Jul 30, 2011 Derek rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jen Askey, Ryan Askey
An undeniably likable narrative of getting around various cities via bicycle (and meeting an array of awesome/important people along the way), David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries is a nice enough account, but don't go looking for much of a glimpse into the persona of Mr. Byrne. While he spends a good deal of time philosophizing on a variety of topics (architecture and art, mostly), he tends to keep himself at arms' length--he talks a little about his work, but apparently the idea that a diary might be ...more
Ubik 2.0
Road to Nowhere

Mi aspettavo una cosa diversa da questo libro che, nonostante il titolo, entra un po’ più nel merito della bicicletta solo nell’ultima parte, ambientata a New York che è la città dove Byrne vive e che meglio conosce.

Tutti gli altri capitoli trattano di varie metropoli di tutto il mondo viste dall’altezza e con la modesta velocità di un velocipede: evidentemente per un americano, sia pure un intellettuale newyorkese, l’atto in sé di bypassare le autostrade riveste implicazioni ecol
Mar 28, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lisa
Recommended to Lisa by: John McKenzie
The topics explored in this book are as wide ranging as the author's global travels. When road conditions aren't outright harrowing, bicycling can allow for an observant state of mind that is simultaneously aware of outward surroundings and aware of inner reflection; an optimal frame of mind for a tourist, or a writer. Bicycling is David Byrne's preferred mode of travel, both home in New York City and abroad. In this book he shares a few of the thoughts evoked by the different cities he explores ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Kevin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cyclists, david byrne fans
Byrnes exploration of cities around the world via bicycle seems like a great idea for a book, and it is, those parts of the book that involve a bicycle and the focused attention of an interesting mind. The parts of the book that digress away from the cycle and evolve through Byrnes thinking on art and politics (some passages seem like the most embryonic of ideas that he should have fleshed out or eliminated) are simplistic, unoriginal and unsurprising. I whole heartedly agree with the point of v ...more
Feb 19, 2010 Elise rated it liked it
I have a bike in Brooklyn, but am still too chicken to ride it anywhere other than Prospect Park--and only on a warm, sunny day, over the weekend, when the park is closed to vehicle traffic. I wish I were more of a biker, though--the efficiency and environmental friendliness of bike travel definitely appeal to me. So, I was really impressed by and interested in the fact that David Byrne travels everywhere by bike--and by everywhere, I mean he folds his bike into his suitcase whenever he travels ...more
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A cofounder of the musical group Talking Heads, David Byrne has also released several solo albums in addition to collaborating with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno. His art includes photography and installation works and has been published in five books. He lives in New York and he recently added some new bike racks of his own design around town, thanks to the Depar ...more
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“I sense the world might be more dreamlike, metaphorical, and poetic than we currently believe--but just as irrational as sympathetic magic when looked at in a typically scientific way. I wouldn't be surprised if poetry--poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs--is how the world works. The world isn't logical, it's a song.” 29 likes
“Creative work is more accurately a machine that digs down and finds stuff, emotional stuff that will someday be raw material that can be used to produce more stuff, stuff like itself - clay to be available for future use. ” 21 likes
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