What to buy a Gasoline Gypsy?

bjork-readsPerhaps some of my readers are looking for Christmas gift ideas (hi mom and dad, and Scott!)? Well, as a Librarian I highly approve of the Icelandic tradition called Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”

In an article by NPR, it is explained that on the eve of December 24th everyone in Iceland gives each other books, with the intention of reading all night long. Apparently this is why the Icelandic publishing industry launches their latest / hottest books in December. That sounds like a most cozy idea, and I can only imagine being in a delightful Scandinavian cabin with the northern lights overhead, Bjork singing on the radio, and reading a good book in front of a fire.

To honour that festive literary tradition, take a look at this booklist which will inspire the gasoline gypsies in your life. (For earlier book reviews, specific to motorcycles check this post!)

First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever (2016) by Amby Burfoot. I’ve mentioned before how I was impacted by watching the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on TV, and being witness to Joan Benoit winning gold in the first Olympic women’s marathon competition! Well, she gets the cover of this book and has a chapter, among other iconic women from the history of running, with a focus on marathons. Kathrine Switzer has a feature, highlighting her brave Boston marathon race and being attacked by a sexist official back in 1967. Marilyn Bevans – the first African American female marathon runner is celebrated, too. A must-have book for any runner with an appreciation for overcoming adversity.


Game Changers: the Unsung Heroines of Sports History (2016) by Molly Schiot. I will admit that I am most enamoured with this book! It is a beautiful, coffee-table sized book featuring a powerful, strong female athlete’s photo on one side with a complimentary description of her accomplishments on the next. Journalists, coaches and teams are included, and I especially liked the acknowledgement of the Korean “Sea Women” free divers… those are some hardcore women!

The first page I flipped to was for Trudy Beck. Now I’ve been gathering loads of cool photos for my Pinterest page on vintage women motorcycle riders, and am baffled that I never stumbled upon Trudy. She was a ripping desert racer in the “Powder Puff” series back in the 1970s (eventually renamed as the “Women’s Motocross Championship” – p.256), having begun racing at age 12, and the photo of her is sick!

The images are not your typical sports photo format as they avoid all sense of advertisement and the athlete’s sponsored brand. Instead, the photos might be a classy portrait, a goofy expression, a grimace, an action-shot! The whole book is like this… completely full of elusive, awesome sports women and their stories. You literally have to Google each one of their names! The author, Molly Schiot began the whole process of collecting and showcasing these women via her Instagram account @TheUnsungHeroines, and it looks like the action continues.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: the Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail (2016) by Ben Montgomery. Alright, I have to break it to you… as much as you think your grandma is amazing, nobody is going to top Grandma Gatewood!

This is the story of how she up and left her home in Ohio at the age of 67 with her gunnysack and a bit of cash, to become one of the few people to walk the entire Appalachian trail, back in 1955. The media attention over her wild adventure literally saved the trail from disappearing. The book includes excerpts from her trail diaries, maps, some of the dark history of her earlier life in an abusive relationship, and interviews.

Motorcycles I’ve Loved: a Memoir (2015) by Lily Brooks-Dalton. This title is compared to Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, which I thoroughly enjoyed. While her writing-style has been criticized in a review for leaning towards the cliche and the overly-dramatic, I figure at least I’ll be able to relate to the content which includes a break-up, travel, coming-of-age, new romance and a passion for motorcycles.

I might borrow this one from the library before committing to a purchase. But, I did notice that Brooks-Dalton wrote a Science Fiction novel called Good Morning, Midnight with a stunning cover of a tent underneath the stars. Strangely enough the book of the same title by Jean Rhys (1939) is one of my favourites! I assume she’s making reference to Rhys, so perhaps I have a literary soul-mate? P.S. if you’re in the mood for heartache, Jean Rhys is a Classic that does not disappoint. I own her whole collection!

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History (2016) by Kate Schatz. This book launched on September 27, which happens to be my birthday, so I’m thinking that’s pretty cool – perhaps a sign that it was destined to be gifted to me… Plus, with a title like that you simply cannot go wrong! The book is a follow-up to a most successful picture book called Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers and Visionaries who Shaped our History… and Our Future! (2015), that included short biographies and bold paper-cut silhouettes.

Each individual is well-researched, and while it must have been difficult to choose which women in history would be included, the diversity makes for an interesting and exciting read. Get Rad! Get Awesome! And may you all have a most wonderful Christmas and New Year, full of adventures.



One comment

  1. Natalie, Sorry I didn’t read this before you came to Ontario! An inpressive list of books about impressive women – just like you. Mom

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