“We only have a few hours so listen carefully.”First line in The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Welcome to my first-ever original book tag! As the title has revealed, I’ve created a tag based on the world-famous cycling race Tour de France which is taking place right now. I’m a major sports fan in general, but cycling and the Tour de France especially hold a special place in my heart. The Tour has been an essential part of my summers since I was twelve years old so I needed to do a tag like this at some point.
What then truly prompted it was the fact that the Tour de France started in my country, Denmark, this year for the first time ever (!!). If you watched anything from those stages, you probably already know that saying we were excited about that is an understatement.
When I thought of creating this tag, I briefly thought about making 21 prompts because the Tour de France has 21 stages each year. Don’t worry, I quickly moved away from that, so what I’ve done instead is pick out nine different types of stages that you are very likely to see in any edition of the Tour de France and based the prompts on those. It’ll make sense so let’s get started!
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).
It’s been a while since I mentioned The Book Thief by Markus Zusak here on my blog so I’m grabbing that opportunity now. Set in Germany before and during World War II, it details the life of common Germans trying to survive while their country is at war. It is narrated by Death in a very I-don’t-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry kind of way, but it follows the girl Liesel who by no means has an easy life and the book is generally very depressing.
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.
I’m obviously going to be very vague here but I’m choosing The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. This is literally the “bunch sprint stage” in book format. The first couple hundred pages are so maddeningly boring, and I can see so many people DNF’ing it during those. However, it’s a book that rewards you for your patience, and that’s all I’m going to say.
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.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman. It’s not that I didn’t expect to like this book but as of right now, it might be my favorite book of the year and that is not a sentence I ever expected to write. I loved the many ethical questions it explored and how it managed to be action-filled and character-focused at the same time. It somehow also succeeded in being a multi-POV story that made me like all the POV characters. None of them bored me which I’m pretty sure has never happened before.
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.
My pick is A New World by A. J. Penn and it needs some explanation. The book is a continuation of the TV show The Tribe, a show from New Zealand that ran from 1999 to 2003, and I was obsessed with that show. Like, the writing was terrible and dramatic, and the acting was even worse but I could not stop watching it. So what was I supposed to do when I found out there was a book explaining what happened to the characters after the show ended? I had to read it! The mixed feelings came in because while I was overjoyed to be back with the characters, everything that happened in that book was just so very weird. I also read it more than a couple of years after the show ended so maybe I was just starting to see how weird the show had actually been.
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.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. When no one remembers you, 300 years can make you very lonely, which is what Addie LaRue is struggling with in this book. At least until she meets someone who quite impossibly remembers her name. In all fairness, I didn’t much like this book but I’m in the minority and I did really like its portrayal of loneliness.
Some stages are considered ideal breakaway stages meaning that the breakaway is unlikely to get caught so 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).
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is the classic group-of-odd-individuals-get-together-to-overthrow-a-tyrannic-ruler and so very fitting for this question. I’ll let the people who’ve read it be the judges of whether there’s any turning on each other at the end.
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.
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire. This remains the only book I’ve ever DNF’d and then given a second chance, which proved to be a good choice. Not that this book is my favorite in the series, but if I hadn’t finished it, I would never have gotten to experience the book that is A Storm of Swords (😍), its sequel. I attempted to read A Clash of Kings when I was way too young and inexperienced when it came to adult high fantasy. Watching the season of the TV show based on it helped me get through it later because then I knew what to pay attention to.
The Queen stage is the toughest and most prestigious stage of the Tour. Pick a book with a royal main character.
(Just a little fun fact: In Danish, this is called The King Stage).
I’m taking the opportunity here to break the streak of fantasy books and pick Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Do you think Alex and Henry would watch the Tour de France? I can picture Henry being really into it because of all the good British cyclists and then forcing Alex to watch it with him.
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.
I’ve learned that yellow really isn’t a popular color for book covers. However, that means I’m very grateful for the existence of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. It’s a dual-perspective story told by a pair of twins from two different points in time. It’s very depressing so I obviously really like it.
It’s no secret that I suck at the whole you-need-to-tag-people part of a book tag, and since I really have no idea who would have an interest in doing a cycling-based book tag, I’m just going to leave it up to you. If you want to do this, consider yourself tagged! I only ask that you link to this post so I can see your answers.
But that’s it for my very first tag! It was quite nervewracking to do and the whole graphics situation also took way too long considering how simple they are. But it was fun to finally use my extensive, useless knowledge of cycling for something. Do you watch the Tour de France? What did you think of my answers and, maybe more importantly, the prompts?