Or, How to Please the Tour de France Freak

The Tour de France is the only competition with an entire country for


Obsession: For Them

Gifts for three very particular fixations.


Or, How to Please the Tour de France Freak

The Tour de France is the only competition with an entire country for its stage and audience. So said Hans Blickensdorfer, the German sportswriter whose final novel was North Wind in Your Spokes (Breakaway Books, $23). This traveling spectacle, which envelops the most grueling sports event of all, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Take your Tour fan on a trip: Present French for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, $14.99); provide history books, like Maillot Jaune (Velo Press, $39.95), on the men who have worn the coveted yellow jersey of overall leader, and An Intimate Portrait of the Tour de France (Buonpane Publishing, $39.95), with photos and stories from the event's origins; peruse Lonely Planet Series: Cycling France (Lonely Planet, $19.95); provide comedic cautions through French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France (St. Martin's Press, $23.95) or encourage a dose of Yellow Fever (Breakaway Books, $14.95), which has been called the greatest novel about the Tour; insist on practicing valuable phrases in French ("Please excuse my large Texas flag blocking your view").

When your obsessive reads The Giants of Cycling (Velo Press, $39.95) or Lance Armstrong: The Race of His Life by Kristin Armstrong (Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99), or looks at Graham Watson's The Landscapes of Cycling postcard book (Velo Press, $9.95), you'll probably hear heavy sighs. Hopefully they won't be too loud to drown out the music of the cycling season: "Tour de France" by Kraftwerk (EMI, $11.99), which was quite ably covered by Se�Coconut (Emperor Norton, $8.50), and John Tesh's own Tour de France CD (BMG Private, priceless).


Treasures for the Literary Fanatic

Poetry Speaks (Sourcebooks Trade, $49.95) is a collection of poets reading their works, including a rare recording of Alfred Lord Tennyson reading "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Other contributors include Walt Whitman, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, and Langston Hughes—142 poems on three CDs with a book.

Try to introduce method to a bibliophile's madness with a journal for your nutcase to keep track of books present, books loaned, books to be read, book notes—a book about books. The Reader's Notebook (Grove Publications, $14.95) makes suggestions on good reads (and, according to one reviewer, "It's a super cute journal!"). A Good Book Is the Best of Friends: A Reader's Journal (Hyperion, $17.95) has a thorough interrogation (or "gently guiding questions") about each of the entries—it has room for 25 books. The Reading Woman: A Journal (Pomegranate, $17.95) includes illustrations of women reading and quotes about reading and books. A spiral notebook (really cheap) does the same work.

Harold Bloom explains How to Read and Why (Scribner, $15). Encourage further education with Why Read the Classics? By Italo Calvino (Vintage Books, $13).


Talking Kitty

Sure, cats talk. Learn How to Speak Cat (HarperCollins, $16.95) as author Alexandra Sellers takes it from the very beginning: "When you have the Cat's attention, quietly repeat the expression ma`. . . . This indicates your willingness to be of service. Your attitude should above all be humble. Do not expect a response at once. The Cat may need time to overcome its surprise."

Perhaps a new language is too much. Perhaps your pal would like Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat (Houghton Mifflin Co., $5.95), Bedtime Stories for Cats (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $9.95)—it's meaningful any time of day or night—or The Kitty Treats Cookbook (Come & Get It Publishing, $9.95). For beginners: Ingrid Newkirk writes of 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You (Fireside, $15.95). For advanced cases: Animal House Style: Designing a Home to Share With Your Pets (Bulfinch Press, $35); double your pleasure—giving and then watching feline feng shui in action.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (Amereon Ltd., $15) by T.S. Eliot and illustrated by Edward Gorey is perfect while the stereo plays the soundtrack from the show it inspired: Cats (Polygram Records, $35.98). Or perhaps your buddy might prefer Music for Cats (Metropolis Records, $15.98) or Purrfectly Classical (Centaur, $17.98).

Share some laughs (only in good taste) with The New Yorker Book of All-New Cat Cartoons (Knopf, $20). Nurture creativity with Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics (Ten Speed Press, $24.95), which illustrates a new art movement—painting on a living, breathing canvas. Help save those memories with My Cat's Life: A Photo Journal of Independent Love (Dewar Marketing, $16.95), with space to note the first scratching of furniture and loving photos of other milestones.

Finally, when that magical evening comes, help celebrate a Meowy Christmas (Jingle Cats, used from $6.39) with the Jingle Cats.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow