What do you say when people ask you what you want for Christmas? To avoid any more mugs with motorcycles, embarrassing T-shirts or novelty socks, just suggest something off the reading list (or even easier, a gift card for this site's route). Here are the ones I want to read from the year's new biking books.
The Moment Collectors
Sam Manicom (paperback)
Okay, I've already read this one but it's so good I can't not mention it again. A collection of 20 short, different, readable tales from overland travellers. There are different styles, different locations, different takes on the whole life-on-two-wheels thing. Easy to dip in and out of and highly engaging – and it works as tasting menu for authors you'd perhaps like to read more from.
Order from Sam's website here.
The Story of Harley-Davidson
John Westlake (hardback)
I'm not a cruiser rider, but I can't deny that there is something about the iconic American brand that still intrigues me. Two lines caught my eye: "John Westlake" and "Unofficial and unauthorized". I worked for Jonners when he was editor of Bike and enjoyed every sentence he delivered to my production-editor desk… I just wished he'd written more (but editors are too busy doing bigger things). So I'm anticipating him drawing out the story of HD's evolution in an engaging and entertaining way... and if it's unauthorized, I'm hoping for some gritty, things-they-don't-really-want-you-to-know stories.
Order from Waterstones here. Also available for Kindle.
Winners, Sinners, Grinners
Mat Oxley (hardback)
If you're interested in MotoGP – and racing generally – this is a must-read. Like his regular magazine pieces, every one of (TT-winner) Oxley's books is packed not only with insight and technical nous but also wry humour and great stories. I can't wait to get stuck into this one... it's at the top of my Christmas list for my offspring.
Order from Mat's bookshop here.
BMW Motorcycles: 100 Years
Alan Dowds (hardback)
Centenaries are always useful points at which to stop and look back at how far companies have come – and BMW's journey from the basic side-valve bikes to the modern monsters of technology is something else. It's all charted here in loving technical detail by fellow journalist Alan Dowds (RiDE, SuperBike and more). I can't think of a BMW launch I did that he wasn't on… and he started at it in ’94 so had a front seat for the way the Bavarian marque has transformed itself. I'm expecting insight and great pics.
Order from Waterstones here.
Bikers' Europe: Hidden Gems
Simon Weir (yes, me) (Paperback)
Okay, this one won't contain any surprises for me... but did you really think I'd do a list of 2022's biking books you should be reading and not include one of mine? The companion volume to 2021's original Bikers' Europe has 60 fresh routes – the stranger, quieter corners I've discovered while exploring the Continent. They're slightly different to the rides in the first book: some are longer, some celebrate the joys of dead-end roads, there are even some unpaved stretches (don't worry – they're clearly marked so you'd never end up on those unawares). From the Alps to the Mediterranean islands, this is more I-want-to-be-there fodder to help you plan a great summer tour.
Order it from my bookshop here.
While we're on the subject of new books I wrote for this year… If you don't already have a copy of A to Z Britain for Bikers it makes a great stocking-filler. It was a scary book for me to produce, as there's very little writing in it: each of the 100 rides is presented with a great map and a roadbook-style table of directions, but there's very little to read… It's purely about the quality of the routes, so you need to get out and enjoy them. There's sure to be at least one close to you so that's easy (once the turkey's gone down and the weather's improved.)
Order it from my bookshop here.
And if you have children or grandchildren looking to spend just a couple of quid on a present for you, don't forget to tell them about those gift cards that let you pick your own routes from all the daytrips on the site. They're available here.