Happy Friday, everyone!
After the absolutely horrendous week I’ve had, I have decided bicycles are by far the most superior mode of transportation.
Why? Imagine the following scenario:
- Even though you hate driving, you are forced to get your own car because you’ve been sent to teach in a very mountainous area and couldn’t find an apartment anywhere in the city.
- To save money, you buy an extremely cheap and extremely pink vehicle from friends, knowing they never had any trouble with it and that it was thoroughly checked out by a mechanic before you bought it.
- One Saturday afternoon right before school starts, you realize that there’s no food in the house and that shops are closed on Sundays. So you decide you should probably go shopping.
- Two kilometers away from your apartment, your car suddenly flashes every single warning light there is and stops driving. Very conveniently, this happens on a narrow alpine road so that your unmoving car is now in the way of any possible incoming traffic.
- You panic, but somehow have enough sense to know that you should probably move the car off the road. So you get out in the streaming cold rain, put out your warning triangle, and start pushing.
- After you’ve moved the car, you think about whom to call for help, but quickly come to the realization that you don’t know anyone in the area since you’ve only just moved here. And, thanks to on-going glass fiber cable installations, the phone line home apparently isn’t working, either. And, of course, your parents always have their smartphones on silent.
- You call the tow truck. Since it’s the last weekend before school starts and everyone is coming home from vacation, you stay in the line for nearly an hour before you reach someone. Then you wait for another hour for the truck to arrive. All the while, you’re completely drenched from pushing the car through the rain.
- The tow truck guy examines your car while you pathetically shiver next to him. At first, he thinks it’s just a simple battery problem, but upon closer inspection, it turns out that maybe the mechanic didn’t check your car as thoroughly as you’d thought. The tow truck guy tells you your timing belt should have been replaced months ago and that the only reason it didn’t snap sooner was because the previous owners only drove it a few kilometers each day to get to work. Whereas you put it through a fully packed Autobahn-roadtrip across half the country and drove it up literal mountains.
- The tow truck guy explains that timing belts snapping while driving almost always leads to motor damage so extensive it costs thousands of euros to repair it. But he tows your car to the nearest auto mechanic and tells you to have them check it out on Monday. Maybe you’ll be lucky.
- Tow truck guy leaves, and you, in an utter state of shock, decide to walk back home. Because calling a taxi costs money, and you’ve just realized you’re probably going to need every spare cent soon. It takes you an hour. It’s still raining.
- You get home. Thankfully, your ADAC membership means you get a free rental car delivered to you so that you have a week to figure out what to do. But the rental car arrives after all shops are closed. You realize you’re going to spend the weekend with next to no food in the house. And that you haven’t prepared any of your lessons for next week. And that you somehow have to find a way to get to school in the coming months. And that you’re probably going to have a ton of insurance repercussions.
- You barely sleep and, for the first time in your life, experience what it’s like to have a panic attack.
- When you get up on Sunday, you realize that it’s not a good idea to spend several hours in cold, soaking clothes. You’re really sick, but don’t have a doctor in the area yet. So you spend your day in bed trying to prepare lessons, making car-related phone calls, eating the only food you have left in the house (bananas), and constantly running to the bathroom.
- On Monday, you feel a lot better physically, but are still a mental mess to say the least. Thankfully, the mechanic is already at the repair shop at 7 a.m., even though his website says he opens at 8 a.m. (This and the fact that you were supposed to show up at your new school for the most important teachers’ conference of the year at 8 a.m. kept you up for the second night in a row.) You sit through ten hours of conference and try really hard not to think about your car. You fail.
- You get home and call the repair shop. You’re not lucky. The mechanic says fixing your car makes no sense whatsoever. He says he’ll try to find an alternative for you. You’re too exhausted to even cry.
- The next day, you meet your new students. If they notice you’re teaching them on barely any sleep, they don’t say anything. They’re so nice and welcoming that you feel even worse about the lack of effort you put into preparing their lessons.
- After three days, the mechanic still hasn’t found a solution, and you’ve spent the entire week in a constant state of dread. But you’re also starting to feel slightly better because you’ve realized your new school is amazing. The kids are nice. Your colleagues have all but adopted you. You have five offers from teachers willing to pick you up and drive you to school each morning until you get things settled. And you’ve realized that, even though it’s extremely steep and exhausting, you can ride your bike to school/the nearest grocery store within an hour, at least until it snows.
So yeah, things are great, I guess? 😅 I mean, I do love living here! It’s beyond gorgeous, and before all the horribleness happened, I had the greatest time exploring!
Anyway… I think bicycle superiority has been sufficiently proven, and in order to celebrate it, I’m doing the Tour de France Book Tag! Never mind that the Tour de France ended two months ago, and that I have absolutely no interest in cycling as a sport. The questions are amazing – Line @ First Line Reader created them, so no surprise there – and I’m so excited to get to them!
Since Line didn’t officially give us rules to work with and my organized brain can’t handle it, here’s my interpretation of what I think the rules are:
- Answer the prompts. This is probably a good rule to start with, right? 🤔
- Pingback to Line so she can find and sneakily read your take on her tag. And you should probably also credit her for the pretty yellow graphics if you, like me, end up using them… 🚴
- Tag some people or don’t – whichever you feel like doing! 😁
With that out of the way, let’s get straight into the tag!
Tour de France often begins outside of France, so pick a book set in/inspired by a European country that isn’t France (preferably also not England but it’s allowed).
Currently Swedish-obsessed me is obviously gonna go with a book set in Sweden here! 😍 My language skills are, unfortunately, still much too non-existent to judge the quality of the original, and I’m afraid I can’t vouch for the English translation, either… But what I can tell you is that the German translation is excellent! So I figure My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, which is about a seven-year-old girl delivering apology letters from her deceased grandmother to various people, is probably equally heartwarming in other languages, too.
A bunch sprint will usually happen on stages with very flat terrain when a large peloton reaches the finish line. The stage is generally very boring until the very end, so pick a book with an ending you think made the book better.
Let’s reveal one of my more controversial opinions, shall we? 😎 Because I hereby proudly proclaim that I think Allegiant‘s ending was one of the best things about the entire book! Yeah, yeah, I know this series finale is universally hated because of its ending, but hear me out, guys – at least the ending was completely in line with what we’d learnt about Tris as a person! It was beautifully tragic, and it made sense! What didn’t make sense, though, was the absolutely ridiculous world-building in the first 90% of the book and the totally unsatisfying explanations we got for divergence. That and the fact that Allegiant suddenly had multiple POVs is a valid reason to dislike it, but not its ending!
Crosswind can appear suddenly and obliterate a peloton into minor groups, and riders who aren’t attentive can lose a lot of time to their competitors. Pick a book that “came in from the side”, a.k.a. a book you didn’t expect to love as much as you did.
Guilty confession time: Seeing books on required reading lists always makes me a little wary of them 😅 I have traumatic experiences from school, okay! A ton of our required reading was old, stuffy, and not all that interesting! And then there was also the fact that so many people I knew had labelled Frankenstein as horror. I dunno, I guess I thought this was some gory tale about a deranged monster ripping people apart while a scientist cackled evilly in the background… So imagine my surprise when I actually read Frankenstein and fell whole-heartedly in love with it! This book has everything I ever could have wanted. Complex characters with emotional trauma. Science. Philosophy. And the monster. Seriously, you have no idea how much I love the monster! 😭😍😭
A stage will sometimes go through roads with badly lain cobbles, and those aren’t the most comfortable to ride a bike on. Pick a book that was a “bumpy ride”, a.k.a. a book you had mixed feelings on.
I have a full review of The Silmarillion up on this blog, so if you want to know the full extent of my mixed feelings, you can head over there. However, since I strongly suspect that many of you, like me, are lazy, let me summarize 😜 First, reading The Silmarillion is beyond tedious. The writing style reminded me a lot of the Bible – C’mon, even you devout Christians out there have got to admit that the Bible isn’t exactly told in a gripping manner! – and the number of men insta-lovely falling for fair elven maidens singing in the woods was beyond eye-roll-inducing. That being said, though, there is so much lore in this! You suddenly understand A TON of mystifying details in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and it’s sooo satisfying. So yeah, even though I hated this book, I guess I also kind of loved it?
At a time trial, each cyclist rides the same distance but completely alone. The one who does it the fastest is the winner. Pick a book that deals with the theme of loneliness.
There’s no competition here. Although To Paradise did not reduce me to the sobbing, emotional wreck that Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life did, it hit hard in a much quieter way. This book, set in three different alternate versions of the United States of America, nails what it’s like to feel alone, even when you’re surrounded by people. What it’s like to hope for a better, more meaningful life. What it’s like to want a future filled with human connection. It’s excellent, so go read it!
Some stages are considered ideal breakaway stages, meaning that the breakaway is unlikely to get caught and the winner is found within that small group. Pick a book that features a team working together (bonus points if they turn on each in the end but beware of spoilers).
Gregor the Overlander! The start to one of my all-time favorite fantasy series set in a world hidden far beneath the Earth’s surface, it features an unlikely team of giant cockroaches, spiders, bats, a rat, and humans going on a quest that has been foretold for centuries. Which is not as weird as it sounds! Just trust Suzanne Collins! This is the author who gave us The Hunger Games, remember? I swear The Underland Chronicles are just as good; in fact, they’re the sole reason I pre-ordered The Hunger Games back in the day without even knowing what it was about… Oh, and there’s loads of betrayal, too, so I fully expect to get those bonus points, Line!
The mountain stages are the most highly anticipated stages by spectators as we finally see who has what it takes to win. For the riders, though, these stages can be quite painful. Pick a book that was “an uphill battle”, a.k.a. a book you struggled to get through.
Absalom, Absalom! Seriously, the writing style in that book is enough to put anyone off reading forever! 🥵 I’m fairly certain that the only reason William Faulkner is hailed as such a famous writer is because people who have read his books feel like they at least deserve something out of it. You know, like the ability to flaunt their perceived literary intellect and prestige over others. It’s not everyone who can read hundreds of nearly incomprehensible page-long sentences without sinking into a mindless stupor or falling asleep!
(Although, in all fairness, Mein Kampf is currently giving Absalom, Absalom! a run for its money and might actually surpass my Faulkner-struggle-levels if I ever manage to finish it… While Hitler’s writing style is slightly more bearable, everything else about the stupid book makes “uphill battle” sound like an extreme euphemism.)
The Queen stage is the toughest and most prestigious stage of the Tour. Pick a book with a royal main character.
My answer to this question was so obviously predetermined to be Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue that I’d be very disappointed if none of you guessed this was coming! Very possibly my eighth, ninth, or tenth most reread book of all-time, it follows a young queen trying to rule a kingdom left in shambles by her murdered father’s legacy. It’s dark, lyrical, complicated, and full of meandering subplots. There’s intrigue, lies, and betrayal. It’s as close to perfection as any fantasy novel has a right to be! 🥰
(If you’re curious about those other spots on my Top Ten Most Reread list: #1-#7 should be blatantly obvious, and I’m pretty sure The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and Catching Fire each have a spot as well. I just don’t know how many times I’ve reread them at this point, so it’s difficult to give precise rankings…)
Traditionally, the Tour de France ends on the famous Champs-Élysées in Paris. Here, the overall winner is awarded the yellow jersey, so pick a book with a yellow cover.
Obviously, I pick Chomp! Apart from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this story about an animal wrangler and his son being hired to accompany a reality TV show in the Everglades is probably my favorite yellow-covered book out there. First off, it makes me nostalgically homesick for my Floridian childhood every time I read it. And second off, it’s hilarious! 🤣
- Anoushka @ Dipped in Ink: I expect to see lots of dragons featured in your answers! And okay, fine, maybe part of me is just hoping to see more hilarious The Summer I Turned Pretty ranting for the Mountain Stage question…
- Riddhi @ Whispering Stories: I’ve got to thank my partner-in-crime somehow! After all, without us ganging up on Line to tell her that it’s okay for book bloggers to write sports content, who knows whether this tag would even exist?
- Jan @ Inkspun Tales: I know I can always count on you for excellent fantasy recommendations, so, sorry, I couldn’t resist!
- Suhani @ Random Reader’s Rambles: AHHH, I AM SO READY FOR YOUR EXCITED SCREAMING!!! In exchange for that, I might even forgive you for the Peeta thing. Maybe…
- Saima @ Stories with Saima: What can I say? Gorgeous graphics and possible dark academia recs tempted me!
As you’ve probably gathered, I’d love to see all of your answers! Please don’t feel pressured in any way, though – as someone whose number of pending tags currently extends into the fifties, I highly doubt I have any authority in this department anyway… 😅
So yeah – that was it for today! Let me know whether you’ve read any of the books mentioned here and what you thought of my answers! Are you a cycling fan? Did you watch the Tour de France? I would love to know! And if you want to tell me something happy that happened to you recently, it definitely wouldn’t hurt, either… I could really use some cheerfulness right now!