Cart 0

2016 Holiday Flyer

Here we go again, our 21st holiday season and we’ve put together a collection of holiday stuff that’s worth some of your deepest contemplation. At the low end, killer books that wouldn’t naturally occur to you otherwise. Can you get them cheaper from Amazon? I’m sure. But give ours a shot, please.  Even with the internet and television, books remain—by far—the best entertainment value per dollar in the world.

We have some new clothes, the same great axes, some cheap excellent Swedish knives, warm things, useful things, no junk. Useful things for bicycle riders and the others. Happy Holiday shopping, and please do.

—Grant

Table Of Contents

  • Clothing
  • Bike/ing Accessories
  • Things That Cut, Split, or Sharpen...
  • Bags
  • Books

Clothing

Australian All-Wool

Crew neck LS top

It’s all merino, middleweight, and a knit known in the trades as a “double-knit,” a kind of knit that resists wrinkling. I’ve never had a problem with non-doubleknit garments, and most of the middleweights, like the Devold, feel the same and don’t seem prone to wrinkles, so who knows? Anyway, we have sold this top for fifteen years and I have one on now as I write this. It’s soft, thick, substantial for what is technically underwear, and it’s just a good under or outerwear top that you’ll wear most of the winter.

If you wear a MED, get a L. If you wear a M and like loose, go 2XL.


Aussie Longies (Bottoms)

Again, technically underwear, but they double as riding tights in a pinch. Do people 
still ride in tights? Do our customers? Hard to say. I haven’t worn genuine cycling tights since about 2001. These are good for cold weather underwear, hiking, or sleeping. Every S24O I’ve ever been on, I’ve slept in these. I always buy up a size, but the goal here is not to get you to wear your clothes like I wear mine. I’m just saying: They’re not going to fall down, and so…..

WOOLPOWER


Zip-T

The trend these days is those heavily quilted Patagonia silver-black-or-blue insul-tops, and they’re fine—hate to disappoint, but we’re not coming out against them. But this anti-trend top here, at 2/3 the price, is more than equally fine and is made of a woolblend fabric with terry-loops on the inside that can be knit only by highly classified Japanese and Italian specialty machines housed in a 100 percent waste-free Swedish company. It is soft, luxurious, and instantly cozy. Wear it against your skin or over a thin wool top. Last year a fellow returned one, saying it caught on briars. To that, we respectfully respond, well, duh. If you bushwack through the briars, wear some kind of Carhart jacket or something. For anything else, whenever it’s chilly to cold, in dry weather or drizzly, snow—no problem—wear this.
Many of our customers have more than one color, because they’re ashamed to wear the same top day after day. That’s not suggesting you buy two, just making the point that these things are really good.

Socks
Light: Slightly lighter weight wool, and slightly shorter than the fantastic 200g Sox, these liners make perfect cycling socks for warm weather. The best light sox we've ever worn. Made in Sweden, where...everything they make is good.

200g: Woolpower Swedish Socks This is the age of technical sockery, with socks costing nearly as much as cheap shoes, and definitely more than decent discounted flip flops (I got some Teva flippers for $13 brand new, for instance). There are lots of great socks out there, but these from Sweden are…going to be your favorite, and here’s why: • They’re Swedish. That doesn’t lock it in, but it’s a good start, right? • They’re barely affordable, which beats way too expensive for socks. • The terry loops inside the foot-area are all wool.


Devold Four Tops & Two Undies

Devold is from Norway, the richest country in the world due to a philanthropic governmental gesture sometime in the ‘70s, where the King made all Norwegian residents co-owners of its oil reserves. Seriously, something like half the country are millionaires and millionairesses—which sounds good, but it’s not good for a company dependent on its employees pounding out garments hand over fist, because rich people don’t want to do that. So a while back, Devold had two options: Close up or get its fine clothing made in nearby Estonia. They did that, and what a good move. Devold wool clothing is almost unheard of in the U.S., but it’s famous among Scandinavian outdoorspeople, world explorers, and along the same lines, Rivendell Bicycle Works employees.

DEVOLD SIZING: Cut for lean lumberjacks and cross-country skiers, so buy up a size if you want a normal fit, and up two sizes if, like me, you want to leave room for a meal in there.

MED Weight Zip-T Forest Green
At the end of the last century, we sold basically this same Devold top, but then it went out of circulation and I was personally morose. Now it’s back and it’s a two-layer knit. The inner that touches your skin is 100 percent merino wool; the outside is 90 percent merino with 10 percent nylon, for toughness. I don’t think it needs the toughness, but it’s there, and it’s only 10 percent of the outer layer, and it doesn’t touch you, anyway. The cuffs have thumbholes, but you don’t have to use them.

LIGHT Weight Zip-T Blu
Super soft superlight fine merino wool in the versatile zip-turtleneck style that makes it useful for everything. It’s marginally oddball to have such a lightweight zip-T, but it feels good to put the neck up and not get too hot, even on 80-degree days. I’ve worn mine all day, riding and working, and slept in it that night. Easily. I’ve done it countless times. It’s really a good top, and this is the last of them we’ll get, because we can’t stock TWO zip-turtlenecks.

Navy/natural Striped crewneck
Stripes make people friendly, nice, and good, which is why they dress prisoners in them (the recognizability in the event of an escape is just a bonus). Stripes are chipper, cheery. And a DEVOLD stripey is just out of this world. We looked though the new expanded Devold offerings—most of which are sold in Norway, other Scandinavian countries, and western Europe—and picked out 13 styles that all looked fantastic. The striped shirt here seems to be perfect.

Gray Henley
It’s one of those “locker room/ash/mélange” grays made with black and white yarns in a non-intimate blend, so it doesn’t look painted. Gray goes with everything, always looks good, readily shows sweat.
Henley history: Henley shirts got famous as underwear tops on English crew teams in the 1800s, and are named for Henley-on-Thames, with Henley being the town where England’s biggest rowing race, the Royal Regatta took place on the Thames River (or “the River Thames” as the British annoyingly say it). In crew tradition, the losers give their shirts to the winners, and some teams ended up with this style shirt, noted for its crew neck and a few buttons down the placket.

You can’t just buy a Henley willy-nilly. Some of them have contrasting plackets or outsized buttons or both, and sometimes the placket reaches halfway down. There are countless ways to meet the technical requirements of a Henley, yet still be not good looking. The Devold Henley is perfect.

SHORTIES (“Boxer briefs”)
When your children are out of the house and you’re finished with tuition and you’re collecting social security as gravy cruise money because you actually don’t need it, and you’re fairly sure that you’ll be able to maintain your standard of living till you die, then have we got the underwear for you.
Devold is an ancient Norwegian company, and this is the best underwear in the world. One pair will last about 9 months of daily wearing, but if you have to wear the same pair of undies every day, instead of the $45 for these, go to Target and get a three pack for $8.95.  It’s all up to you, but if all underwear cost the same, these would be the ones to get. I’m not wearing mine right now, but boy, do I wish I were.

LONGIES (like tights)
Lighter than the Devolds, so…better for vigorous movements in cold weather or – whatever, they’re lighter and Devold. I’d buy up a size or even two, but most people aren’t as slobby as I am.

Possum Wool

Neck Gaiter (alt. name: Neckie)
It’s a tube made of Australian possum, merino wool, and silk, and you wear it around your neck, up higher up as a hat and ear warmer. Doing that when you’re bald will make people wonder why you don’t just wear a full-blown hat, but that’s their problem. Charcoal and Naturaul — ribbed.

We’ve sold these for about 15 years and they’re always good. My daughters even wear them, and they, shamefully, don’t don much in the way of wool.


McDonald Brim Beanie

It has a short bill to guard your eyes from those nasty snowflakes, and has a band that folds down to cover your ears. A warm, good-looking cold-weather hat made of 55-35-10 merino possum silk.

RIVENDELL / MUSA

MISSOURIAN STUBBY CAPS
Made to our specs in Missouri by an old and fairly costly but excellent hat maker. The pattern is a Halsey, with three front-to-back panels, and a stubby bill that’s stiff enough to stay there and floppy enough to fold. One size fits all adults (it’s adjustable).

They’re both all cotton, but there are diffs:

Khaki-with-navy bill: Normal cotton hat that’ll get wet and so will your head, in the rain.
Light green: Waterproofed, made with a top secret, super old fashioned favorite fabric made famous by the long-forgotten Antelope Camping Equipment company, of Cupertino, California.  Now… admittedly…the green is a soft mint and not what you might expect, but it grows on you and looks interesting and mellow. It’s made waterproof with super enviro processes, and in that way was about 30 years ahead of its time.



Splats
They’re rain hats for your shoes, for walking or riding, and they work great. Our own design, made for us in Connecticut by our Sackville bag makers. They go on in five seconds and your shoes stay dry. There’s no sole, so you can walk in muck or pedal your bike. Olive Scottish waterproofed cotton, stiff and tough. People sometimes complain that they make your feet look like duck’s feet, but they’re confusing a duck’s bill with a duck’s feet. Anyway, who cares? The alternative is soaked shoes and wet feet, maybe all day long. Raid riders need these.

Three sizes:
S fits up to Women’s 9 ½, men’s 8
M fits up to women’s 12, men’s 10.5
L fits big shoes and feet





GRUNDENS Rain Gear

Swedish maker Grundens has supplied ocean fishermen with foul weather gear for thousands of millenia by now, and they make the best in the world. These garments are made in their Portuguese factory, where they get feedback from every single Portuguese cod fisherman on the boat, and they don’t hold back.

All of the garments below are made with lightest, rubbery plasticized yellow coating over some woven polyester or cotton. Doesn’t matter—the point is, these are all firehose-proof. When you’re serious about keeping out the rain, rubber beats Gore-Tex. Everything is yellow.

Poncho
Ponchos are kind of the platypuses of rainwear, meaning they’re not like anything else that most people wear, and you have to seek them out…but let me tell you: They’re easily my favorite for any rain ride up to about half an hour. When you’re on your way out and it’s raining, and a full rain oversuit isn’t a good option because who wants to deal with that and it takes too long and everything will be tight under it, then a poncho is perfect. You slip your head into it and make sure the front’s in front, and then you cover your head with something, and you’re off! Your legs are automatically protected down to midcalf.  For your feet, get splats.

Two sizes: S/M for up to 5’ 7”, and L/XL  for taller.

Note, if you’re used to regular ponchos, not bicycle ponchos, then you need to know the diff. Bike ponchos can and should be tighter to your back, so the wind doesn’t blow them all around. Loose in front, not in back. That’s how they go when they’re good.

Rain Hat
It’s also called a sou’wester, but when you wear it around buildings and roads or anywhere not on the ocean, rain hat seems more appropriate (and I hope it doesn’t hurt sales). I’ve had my Grundens for 40 years. I can’t say I wear it more than 10 days a year, but it doesn’t rain a lot out here, or I would. Hair cannot get wet under this hat. Your wife may not like it because it makes you look like a clownish old-timer, but it really is the best rain hat you can wear. Drains the rain so it falls behind you. Flannel lined, with chinstrap.

Mittens

These are American-made basic “chopper” mittens, as simple and basic as mittens get. Two styles:

Split cowhide (left), lined with fake fur for cold weather work in the back yard, or bike commutes…

Full-grain elk (right) with the smooth side out, unlined. Elk is the best leather for wet-dry cycles, because it stays supple. These are big enough to wear over gloves, or not.

Large and extra L only. Not many of either. 

Bike/ing Accessories

BEESWAX
The first item we ever sold was a Dixie cup of beeswax, melted and hand-poured by me in my own kitchen. A guy named Mark in Portland bought it. Through a computer foul-up 12 years later, we deleted him from our records, but I believe his last name was something like, but not exactly, Bergman. The cup-o-wax cost $3 then, and 22 years later, same price. The only difference is that now we use like a cruder grade that smells even better but may have more legs, winds, and bee-poop in it; and my wife melts and pours it, bless her heart.

LIP IVO
We sold this for a dollar for decades, but the maker said we were making other sellers of it mad, so – sincerely not wanting to do that – they asked us to raise the price to $1.50. Dave did that temporarily, violating our “even dollar” policy for the first time in 21.8 years, but he’s still got his job, and we’re back on track—meaning I added another $0.50 to make it $2. It’s still the cheapest lip balm you can buy outside of a Dollar Store, it is still the first lip balm every to go into a tube (1903—the same year as the Model T, the Wright Bros first 12-second flight, and Harley Davidson—and it is many people’s favorite. It is not too waxy, but is waxy enough to stay on and not drift into your mouth, like aloe/hippie lip balms. It has a pleasant faint vanilla-pepperment smell. Buy many so you don’t have to share.


Bottle cage
Never a thrilling gift, but everybody wants one or two on every bike, and these, made by Ron Andrews of KING cages are as good as bottle cages ought to be. They’re tubular stainless steel, don’t mark bottles like aluminum cages do, and clampem tighter than carbonio.

Two styles:
NORMAL (left), best looking, for plastic normal bike water bottles.
IRIS (right), slick looking, for plastic or stainless steel bottles.

Ultra-Ergonomique Bells

Two brassies from Japan and a chromed shiny from Holland. They’re all easy to operate, fit on most halfway normal handlebars, road or mtn, and are ringable by all ages and hand sizes.

The small brass bell (Bell 26 — right) has a coiled spring hammer and emits a polite ring that’s plenty audible if the ears of the guy in your way are not stuffed with ear buds, or you aren’t trying to pierce the din of traffic and distant jackhammers.

The bigger brass bell (Hammer Strike — left) has a more direct hammer striker and gives a sound that’s in the gray zone between clearly audible and rude. It’ll get through some earbuds and most traffic noises, including the odd distant jackhammer.

The silver Dutchie (center) looks less classy, but sounds old-fashioned friendly and is loud enough for bike riders in Holland. You turn it on with sliding trigger, and a flat round place for a sticker or a head shot of your dog.


LIGHTS...

...in general are so much better now than the ones you rode in the badjokealert dark ages. All modern bike lights warrant at least 4.5-star reviews, and if they have long-lasting LED bulbs and are USB rechargeable, they get the full five. That goes for the dozens of models that we don’t sell, too. But we are especially fond of these Cygo-Lites. Everybody here has a few, because why not? They mount easily—you could probably do it with mittens, seriously; they all recharge with an included USP thingamajig; and I don’t think we’ve gotten any returns due to lousy quality control or crummy materials. Made in California, too.

The three below are all favorites:

TWO tiny, costly, and super slick HotRods (Left and Right)
They’re for road riders put off by added grammage, but they work for anybody and are, I’d say, kind of irresistible. The rear is bright enough for anything and anybody anyhere, because you don’t have to see by it, just have to be seen. It’ll end up on your seat stays.

The front is the same size, and is more than enough light for the most common commuting conditions—speeds up to 19mph on streets with some kind of ambient light already. It spreads a wide beam and lights up the road light enough to see potholes; it just doesn’t shoot a rocket beam far up the road. So you’ll outrun it on steep unlit descents. But still—this is a heck of a neat slick light and is great for commuting and moderate speed night riding.

ONE Bigger, brighter, for faster speeds and less-lit roads:
Dart FRONT(center): Clamps onto any handlebar and makes a focused beam that shoots way down the road and basically blows the roof off of any battery powered light from five years ago; and they weren’t lousy then.

 

Things That Cut, Split, or Sharpen...

Gransfors-Bruk

#420 ax
For the American market GB has called this the Small Forest Ax, but officially it’s the #420. If you own only one nice ax, let it be it, because it’s just the best all-around ax a sub-lumberjack can own. The 1.5lb head has enough heft to do a lot of the work itself, without swinging away like a mad demon whiffing at fastballs, and the 19+-inch handle is long enough for two-handed limbing or chopping, but small enough to choke up on an swing with one hand, as though it was a smaller ax.

I’ve made at least 500 spoonish-knifish eating implements with mine, and a few shoehorns and hiking stix for good measure. All with this ax.

Lesser axes sell for twice as much. This is as good as an ax gets.

#415 hatchet (the “Wildlife hatchet”)
If you own two axes, this one, or one this size, is a great choice. The 1-pound head requires more swinging than the #420’s 1.5-pound head, and it’s a little small for limbing, but it 13-inch length fits in more places than the longer #420, and sometimes that’s the difference between bring it and not. This may be our most popular model, but it should be our second-most popular one.

 

MORA SWEDISH KNIFE

Companion Heavy-Duty
It’s made by Mora, it’s the Companion, it’s the Heavy-Duty version with a slightly thicker blade, and it’s the olive one, so don’t drop it in the rain forrest. Also, it has carbon, not stainless, steel. Why? Because it’s easier to sharpen and eventually acquires a dull pantina just like the shivs your grandpappy used to carry. Don’t at all worry about rust. Wipe dry and it won’t form, and if it does form, it’s easily erased with, oh many, there are so many ways. Steel wool. Quick-Glo. Scotchbright. Any of five million rust-be-gone products your hardware store sells.

Comes with a cheap and perfect plastic sheath that goes on your belt. Actually made in Sweden by an iconic Swedish company that knows how to make knives that’ll always do the job.

SVEN SAW

Normal size, 15-inch & Bigger, 21-inch
This Minnesota-made, Norwegian-bladed folding triangle saw has been around and loved by all who use it for almost 50 years. Maybe more. A wingnut allows you to fold it down or open it up. The blade rips through wood like an arm-powered chain saw. If you cut wood, you will like your Sven saw, and you’ll have it 20 years.

Spare blades are available, but we may not be your source for them.

VICTORINOX (Swiss Army)

Pioneer Knife
With one tiny exception, this is the actual knife you get when you sign up for the Swiss army, and the tiny exception makes it better: A little lanyard ring, so you can tie something onto it and maybe not lose it as easily.

Bladewise, it has a main blade, two screwdrivers for derailers, a can opener for fish, a bottle opener that these days, let’s face it, is probably for expensive beer, a wire stripper for thieves, and a leather awl for general hole-reaming in leather or wood.

This is easily the most useful knife for a bike rider and all-purpose human. Always keep one in a pocket of your bike bag, and no matter what happens, you’ll stand a 50-50 shot at being able to deal with it.

Fiskars

is a Finnish company, and there aren‘t many of those around.  Famous for orange-handled scissors of all scizes, but they make all sorts of edged tools, from lawn mowers to machetes. Good steel, weatherproof synthetic handles of some kind of high-tech resin that Fiskars says will never break, and they certainly won’t unless they’re abused. They don’t look woodsy, but they’re good. Here’s what we’ve got, and some comments on them.

18-inch Machete
It has an edge on one side, a saw on the other. The edge is not all that sharp, but I’m thinking Fiskars is not stupid, so maybe a less-than-razor’s edge makes the most sense for a machete. The saw works fine. Both are sharpenable.

**Splitters

Eventually you may want to sharpen them a bit with a file, but splitters don’t really need to be sharp, since the splitting wood runs well ahead of the edge.

Fiskars

36-inch Jumbo
It’s as effective a splitter as you’ll find anywhere except for maybe a Gransfors. Huge, fairly light for its size, but you still need to be strapping or burley to swing it. Good for tough wood, big stumps.

24-inch Mini X15
Small stumps, half-rounds, and quarters. Good fireside.

Council

34-inch woody
Made in America, wood handle, good stout splitter, but it lacks a steel collar, so if you smack it on a hard sharp stump below the neck, it may break. Not the handle’s fault, it’s yours. Either be careful or protect the upper 5-inches with a thick wrap of bar tape or something. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, don’t get it.

Spyderco Ceramico (Sharpeners)

They’re about 3” x 8” and come in a storage box that doubles as an anti-slip base for putting on a bench; or for axes you can hand-hold them, whatever you like. I do that.

Medium (Gray)
By practical everyday standards this is all you need. You can get an ax-head more than shaving sharp with it if it’s already fairly sharp. Super for knives.

Fine (White)
For fanatical perfectionists and showoffs. After the gray, stoke it with this. For taking a sharp edge to ultra-sharp.

 

Sackville Bags

Dave’s MULTISACK
Dave’s been monkeying around with this basic shape (rectangle) and size 6.5” x 12” x 3”)  for more than a year, and seems to use it for everything and mounts on the handlebar, back of the saddle, and on the side of any rack. Off the bike, it’s just as useful as a travel kit for almost anything. One main pounch, two front zippered pockets. With two leather buckle-straps for easy mounting.



FLATSACK
The cheapest way you can get a Sackville bag, and it also happens to be handy enough to wear anywhere from airports to Zanzibar. It’s a 9” x 12.5” unicompartmented bag with a zipper closure and an adjustable strap. Made of our impervious-to-all Scottish cotton and military spec nylon and graced with the Sackville label so you can flaunt your class.

SACKVILLE GRABSACKS—Originale (left) and Jumbeau (right)
The O is a rather boxy 4 x 10 x 10.5 and won’t fit a laptop except the tall way, but it fits a lot of the rest of the stuff you want to bring with you. There’s a sleeve-pocket inside for your keys-wallet-phone-knife. It holds a medium-format camera ideally, too, or overflow gear for a bike camping trip, or $25 worth of groceries. The military spec nylon strap is adjustable and has a quick-release, so you can take if off quickly without tucking your head under the strap. Wear it diagonally over your trapezius, around your waist and on the side like a gunslinger, or carry it like a clutch—there is a handle on the backside.  The adjustable toggle closures are the best way to close almost any bag.

If you’re a bag person, you probably don’t have one like this, and once you use it, you’ll curse yourself to high heaven for waiting so long. My/Grant’s favorite bag.

The Jumbeau is for laptops and papers, like a briefcase. It has a sleeve pocket inside and a zippered pocket outside, and the only thing I don’t like about it is that it makes me use my Orginale slightly less. And it allows me to be sloppy. The adjustable strap is wider for comfort with heavier loads. Otherwise, same quality and details as on the O.

SHOPSACKS — Medium & Large 
Designed and perfect companions for the Wald Med and Large baskets. Single side small pocket for phone, keys, wallet…big undivided remainder accepts groceries and daily needs. Loops outside let you carabiner it to the basket, but there’s no actual need, as long as you put a net over it. Either way, you’ll figure it out. Good beach and airport bags, too. Simple, supremely well made, and always useful.



SaddleSacks in four sizes
They all attach to bag loops, so you’ll need … a saddle with bag loops. The CLEM saddles with the plastic handles work, too.

XS: For wallet keys phone and a large hunk of cheese.
S: For a 13-inch laptop, clothing, some food, and a knife and a book.
M: Now we’re talking. Camping, shopping.
L: Whoa, Nellie—for knee-high galoshes, a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, and the largest head of cauliflower anybody’s ever seen.

TrunkSack


LARGE: For mounting on top of most rear racks with the normal “about 5 ½-inches apart” rails. Especially good if you don’t have a saddlebag. D-rings on top let you strap extra gear on. Use shock-corn in a criss-cross pattern and shove that parka there, because it’s too hot right now and stopped raining.

SMALL: Perfect for the Mark’s Rack or Mini-front. That’s what we made it for. Ideal if you don’t need the capacity of a basket, or just want something sleeker and offers full coverage. Holds about six apples or 4 ½ pounds of cheese.

Books

Children's Books

BOOK OF NONSENSE
Edward Lear’s 1848 children’s classic that all kids read in the ‘20s thru ‘60s, but nobody reads anymore—curse ‘em. Incredible limericks, a botany lesson, and adventures on the low seas! Here’s a limerick:

There was an  old person of Barnes
Whose garments were covered with darns
But they said, “Without doubt, you will soon wear them out,
You luminous person of Barnes!”

If you’re thinking “what does “luminous” have to do with anything?”, then join the crowd, but they’re all like that. His rhyming is quirky, too. The Book of Nonsense is Ed’s best-known work, and includes The Owl and the Pussycat.  Is all this new to you? Nothing rings a bell? You’ve been missing some wonderful things. Lear, a former technical illustrator, got blinder and blinder and ended up drawing bears that look like dogs.  Every child should know this wonderful Book of Nonsense. The retro-diagnose is that he was diabetic. This Everyman’s Library Edition—with cloth hardcover, library-tough binding, and sewn-in bookmark, still costs only $16. Everyman’s Library books are an imprint of Random House, are the best-made books today, and published largely without regard for profit. Only special books...


CHARLOTTE’S WEB
A children’s classic that makes everybody’s top ten all-time children’s books. If you have a child or grandchild who hasn’t read it…here’s a good, cheap, easy way to fix that.

FERDINAND THE BULL
Yet another children’s classic (1938) that is at risk for falling off the radar, and what a shame that would be.Ferdinand is genetically a fighting-type bull but has the heart of a peacenik and wants nothing to do with the ring. He gets sent there, anyway, and has to deal with it.  Early critics considered it to be communist propaganda, but there have always been crackpots, right? Although the cover is red, so who knows?

Jenny here has had a picture of Ferdinand on every bike she’s ever owned. This...came to light after we decided to carry it.


HATCHET
It’s Gary Paulsen’s middle-school classic and has often been required reading. Kids today, they don’t read a lot, though, and certainly not books with  mild outdoorsy themes with no robots, aliens, or mayhem. They ought to, and this book is more than that, anyway. Your child may read it in school, but it warrants a home copy, and is an ideal read aloud book to any child over about 7.

HOLES, by Louis Sachar
Good kid gets sent to a desert reform school run like a prison labor camp. The commandant is evil. The child wins. Yahoo!

Read the book, THEN see the movie. The movie is exactly like the book. They nailed the book uncannily. Any child who still reads will love this.

HOMER PRICE — CENTERBURG TALES
Every school kid in the from the end of WWII through about the ‘60s read these books. That’s why we turned out so fantastic!  The first one is about Homer, a ten-year old who likes to fix radios and has a friend named Freddie, and they both live in Centerburg, a typical American town (back then), with what seems like an endless parade of slighly quirky characters coming and going all the time to keep life interesting.

Read it to below 7 ‘ers, or give it to 8-10 year olds so they can read it themselves, or to you.


The LITTLE BEAR books
They’re I-CAN-READ books, so maybe around 4 or 5 they can tackle it themselves, but for the love of god, let them read it to you. Little Bear is a lovable guy. His friends are lovable. His family loves him. He is cure and mischievious, and each of these books is as good as the others. Read in this order: Little Bear, Little Bear’s Friend, Father Bear Comes Home, A Kiss For Little Bear, and Little Bear and Marco Polo. That last one isn’t as good, but it’s still a Little Bear book, and that counts for something.

So highly recommended. Start reading to them at at 2-3 years. They won’t get tired of Little Bear, and they’ll never sell their Little Bear books.

BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL
Sal is about a 7-year old tomboy picking blueberries on the hill with her mom. A bear’s up there, too. There’s enough adventure for a young reader (read it to them!), and the pictures are lovely, the same as most Robert McCloskyy books have. This is a wonderful book, any child will love it and want you to read it repeatedly. It’s a classic.


MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS
, by Robert McCloskey
A classic, perfect picture book and short story—a five-minute book—about wayward ducklings in Boston. Other forces may come into play as one becomes a teen and later an adult, but it’s fair to say that reading-to-the-point-of-memorizing this short book is a great start to a healthy life.

The Wind in the Willows $21, by Kenneth Graham
Published first in 1908, it inspired all of the great children’s books that followed—Milne’s Pooh, Potter’s Peter & gang, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and by virtue of them, Harry Potter. So…even though it came out the second-to-last year the Cubs won the World Series, it is as fun, relevant, and contemporary, and important to the psychological welfare and joy and happiness to a child of today than it was then. Actually, probably more. Back then it was competing against mulblety-peg, kick-the-can, and making home-made box kites and wooden rafts. Now it’s competing against darker forces powered by lithium-ion batteries.

TWITW is as enjoyable and fun and great a children’s book as exists in the world in any language. I’ve read it twice in the past five years, and I would go so far as to say that it’s even easier for adults to love than for kids to; and that’s saying a lot.

There are pictures—beautiful sillohuettes and color plate by Arthur Rackham, whose work is so fantastically unique and cool that you’ll recognize the style immediately. I have a whole book of his art, and I don’t even collect art books.

This is the Everyman’s Edition, which—long story short for once if it’s not too late—means it’s printed in Germany, with a cloth cover, the ultra-durable stitched library binding that nobody does anymore; and acid-free archival paper, wonderful end-pages with a place for your name, and a sewn-in satin bookmark.

We have five of these.

WONDER and AUGGIE & ME, by R.J. Palacio
Wonder is the first book, Auggie is the sequel. There’s a whole Wonder world that you may not be familiar with. The story of how the book came to be written is as follows:

Mama Palacio was in a Brookly ice cream shop with her 7-year old child, when in walked another mother with her similarly-aged child. Child 2 has a deformed face, and Child 1 can’t handle it, and in making a speedy exit, Mom and 1 knock over a display and make a scene, making everything worse. Mom had always wanted to write a book, and this was the impetus she needed.

Wonder is the story of a 5th grader with a deformed face who has been home-schooled up to now, but his parents want him to assimilate some, so they send him to public school in the 5th grade, and the whole book is the tale of that year.

The book begs for a sequel, and that’s what AUGGIE & ME is. Don’t even think about buying one without the other. It would be like eating hamburgers your whole life and never even trying them with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ketchup.

 

Books on Bicycles

The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual
I wish I’d written this, but I couldn’t have, and Eben Weiss did. Everybody who owns a bike or is new to bikes needs this book, and if you’re old to bikes, it’s still a good one. Zero nonsense advice based on decades of riding and paying attention, delivered clearly, with humor and obvious but not gushy love, and always right-on. If you already know some of the stuff, it’ll make you feel smart for that. But you won’t know all of it, so there’s plenty to learn.

JUST RIDE
I (Grant) wrote this a few years ago and for better or worse, I still go by it and wouldn’t change a word. The subtitle, A radically practical guide to riding your bike….is a descriptive subtitle. If you’re new to bikes and aren’t set in your ways, or are a veteran who’s finding that riding isn’t as fun anymore, Just Ride will be of use. I am quite happy with it and hope you like it. Most bike shops don’t sell it because either their customers don’t read books or Just Ride says stuff that might hurt their business.  Not sure which. Bookstores may have it, and all things equal I’d rather you buy from one of those. But if you buy from us, it’ll come signed—adding $0.05 in resale value years down the road.

Non-Fiction

THE NAKED APE
It’s non-fiction. The author is a zoo-ologist who in this book looks at people the way a scientist from another planet might, if she or he or it were to drop in and have a gander at the animals. We’d be the  naked apes... It was a blockbuster in the ‘70s, and still ought to be. The chapter on sex will blow your mind, and you’ll never look at the ______ of ________ __________ again without thinking of how they came to be that way.Fill in the blanks any way you like; you’re likely right.

Desmond Morris still lives, and still in England.


REWORK
This is the easiest to read business book in the world AND has the most confidence-inspiring advice with the friendliest presentation on earth. If you have or are thinking of one, you must read this book. Other good business books (we don’t stock) include any by Al Ries or Jack Trout.

Novels

Ella Minnow Pea
By I forget. Dunn? I don’t have the book with me as I’m writing this

It’s a novel that takes place on an island off of North Carolina, and if you like language, you’ll love it. You’re familiar with

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog..

…right? It’s not just a sentence. It’s a typing-practice sentence that uses every letter in the shortest sentence possible.

Ha!

This is a short, fun book. A weekend book. Not all weekend, either. I loved it, and so did my two daughters. I read it after they did. They should have made me read it, but I just picked it off the shelf when I was looking for something small.

 

FELLOWSHIP of the RING, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s book one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ideally you’ll read The Hobbit first—it’s a prequel, but it’s not necessary to do that. Lots of people read the whole Trilogy and then The Hobbit.  In any case, this is the deluxo hardback illustrated and generally recognizes as best “non-collector’s” edition.

The Rivendell in Middle Earth is some way the cause of RBW being named what it is. The goods produced in Middle Earth’s Rivendell continue to be models for us.

THE TWO TOWERS (book 2 in the Trilogy), by J.R.R. Tolkien
If you’ve read The Lord of the Rings, you’ve most assuredly read this one already, but if you’ve read neither, get them both, and The Return of the King (book 3 and final)

THE RETURN of the KING (book 3 in the Trilogy), by J.R.R. Tolkien
The last of the Trilogy, and it lives up to the first two. Considered by my wife to be essential reading, and this whole series had such a presence in home life that our two daughters, who read a ton, have not-------god, I can’t even say it. Read these books.

We should have read them TO them. Can’t go back. Don’t make our mistakes. (They have read The Wind in the Willows, Pooh, Peter Rabbit, and each has read the entire Harry Potter series at least, I swear this is no exaggeration, ten times. Which…well, I love Harry Potter myself, but it makes it even harder to take, that they’ve not read Tolkien.

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
Knifemaker and Rivendell customer Tim Wright’s favorite book—about a young woman who takes up chess and does well at it. You don’t need to know anything about chess to love this book. It’s so fun to read, and you’ll plow through it in no time and recommend it to others. If you haven’t taken to novels, check out this book. A perfect airplane or rainy weekend book, but it’s good as a two-weeker, too.