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BikeSnobNYC was and is a popular blog that became so popular that a book came out of it. It is the most important, original, unrehash-of-old-information, and most paradigm-shifting bike book ever written.
Author Eben Weiss is a mid-top-late 30s ex-BMXer, former bike messenger, and I guess now he races some on the road--but mainly he is an observer with a good eye, a wide eye, and a cogitater. What he sees seems to sink in. He stews on it, ruminates on it, ferments it, and it erupts a day or so later as the most refreshing, down-to-earth bikestreet wisdom and humor you'll ever read if you're ten now and live to ninety. The book is that good.
It's odd to write a review of a book I wish I'd written (but am incapable of), and to glow so glowingly about the work of somebody who was born after my 5th year of college. But I'm not going to dilute my feelings or throw out qualifiers just so I don't look like the author's patsy, either.
I just plain really like this book, and even if I didn't---even if I felt picked on or offended or disagreed with something here or there---it wouldn't matter. I'm not saying I do or don't---I'm saying that's not even the issue.
And I'm not sucking up to protect me or Rivendell from future barbs, or whatever. I'm comfortable with what I do and we do, and that isn't the deal here, either.
The deal is that this book jostles the bike industry and all of its trends and accomplishments in a way it badly needs jostling. Along the way he swears a bit, steps on a religious toe or two, and mentions sex now and then. Somewhere along the line somebody will compare him to Holden Caulfield.
He's a funny guy who isn't self-consciously funny. His humor seems natural. It's not bothersome and doesn't get in the way; it does make you laugh (it made me laugh).
This book will spawn imitators, who see Eben Weiss's success and will think all it takes is a little irreverence and shock to win the game, and they'll be wrong. I wonder how Eben will handle the success. What is being rewarded, and what will grow as a result? If everytime you coughed you looked down and found a $5 bill, you'd cough a lot. I worry about him a little. Is he like Michael Jackson 1980, destined for Michael Jackson 2008? Eben is being paid (as authors are) for being Eben, but how will that Eben age?
Will he succumb go the way of Howard Stern and Maury Povitch? The internet welcomes everything. He can do what he wants, but what he wants and what any of us want doesn't always come from within.
I'm optimistic. He's already loosened us up, broke some nasty bonds, brought some high and mighty things down to earth. That should be enough, but I hope he doesn't think so. Whatever happens, buy this book. Nobody, least of all Eben, expects you do agree with everything. Good books make you reconsider your own beliefs, pat you on the back now and then by agreeing with you on other things, and make you shift your vantage point and look at the world in question from another point of view. Eben Weiss does all that stuff here.
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