Bike & Read: Our Most Bikeable Reading Spots in DC ft. She’s Full of Lit

Greetings, Rollers!

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As our peak season comes to a close and the leaves begin to change, we wanted to share a list of bikeable places to read a book! The temperatures are finally dropping, and the time to indulge in a day-rental with Bike and Roll is now! We offer several bikes and attachments to get you on your way. All rentals come with a free helmet and bike lock for safe riding, as well as a recovery service if you hit a bump in the road. For a more leisurely ride, rent an electric bike; all the fun with less pedaling!

Pack a thermos of apple cider, a blanket, your favorite book and ride through the fall foliage to a spot listed below. Are none of the books on your shelves yearning to be read? No worries! I’ve enlisted my longtime friend and voracious reader, Elizabeth, to give you some suggestions.

Elizabeth, take it away!

  • Meet Elizabeth from She's Full of Lit!

Hi, I’m Elizabeth, and I’m one of the three bloggers over at She’s Full of Lit; in addition to being a big reader, I’m also a consultant based in DC who enjoys a book outdoors, so I’m happy to provide some recommendations for all of you here. She’s Full of Lit is a joint effort with my friends Shannon and Moira (both based in New York), and we chat about our favorite and our least favorite books, share thoughts about everything from what wine goes best with that work of fiction to facemasks to make your nonfiction reads better, and just live our best basic bookworm lives. With three of us blogging and reviewing, we bring a variety of perspectives, and our individual tastes and preferences are pretty wide-ranging. We’d love for you to check out our daily book reviews (and other recommendations) either on the blog or on Instagram. Let me know if you read any of the below, too!

Malcolm X ParkMalcolm X Park is my go-to spot to read outside (I live just up the street), and I have spent a lot of time on a blanket on the grass underneath the statue of Joan of Arc. I think the best choice for a read here would be either “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood or “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead, as they seem in line with what Malcolm X stood for: fighting for equality (both subtly and not-so-subtly). “The Nickel Boys” is a hard-but-great portrayal of life in a reform school in Florida in the 1960s, written by the amazing Colson Whitehead, and “The Testaments” is the long-awaited follow-up to “The Handmaid’s Tale” that gives us an inside look at Gilead. Both will make you think, both will make you want to speak up and act out. Plus, if you visit on a Sunday, you’ll get the drum circles as a soundtrack! Always a plus.

Dumbarton Oaks Park – Dumbarton Oaks Park is one of my favorite places to go in DC to feel like I’m not in the middle of DC; it’s peaceful, it’s uncrowded, it’s full of trees and creeks. Bad segue (or should I say Segway?) here: “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim is the book that I would recommend wholeheartedly for this woodsy location. This courtroom thriller, set in the suburbs of DC, is one of my favorite reads this year. It kept me guessing until the final chapter who actually committed the crime at the center of the novel: the explosion of a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of medical conditions, from autism to infertility. Plus, Angie Kim is from DC!

Constitution Gardens – I didn’t grow up in DC, and so most of my early impressions of the National Mall generally come from pop culture; mainly, Forrest Gump or pictures on the news. One that especially sticks out in my mind is the installation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and so I feel compelled to recommend “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai, an incredibly insightful read about the impact of the AIDS epidemic, from the earliest days of the crisis to more current times. It begins at the outbreak of the virus in the 1980s, and it tells the story of a small Chicago community over the intervening three decades, as they are impacted by the disease in big and small ways. I used to work in HIV/AIDS, so I feel confident in saying this book is impeccably researched, but it’s not at all clinical – it’s an amazing story of human resilience.

National Portrait Gallery Bench – The atrium at the National Portrait Gallery is an amazing spot to sit and read, but also to people watch; it’s always been busy, but I feel like it’s been even more so since the portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama were installed. The Presidential Portrait Gallery has long been a favorite of mine, and so I would like to propose you read “Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win” by Jo Piazza after a stroll through there. It’s the story of an ambitious woman, Charlotte, running for Senate in Pennsylvania in the post-2016 era. Yes, there are parallels to that female candidate in 2016, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an insightful novel about gender politics, happiness, and the eternal question, “can you really have it all?”

Potomac Riverbank – I love that the flight path into DC from some directions comes down over the Potomac – it allows for such an amazing view of iconic Washington spots: the memorials, the Capitol, and the Pentagon. I didn’t live here during 9/11, but reading “The Only Plane in the Sky” by Garrett M. Graff certainly made me feel like I was here that day (it also made me feel like I was on Flight 93, and in the rubble of the World Trade Center, and in an eerily quiet New York City). Garrett Graff, another DC resident, constructed an incredible oral history of September 11, talking to over 200 individuals to create the story of the day as it was actually lived by those intimately involved. I think everyone needs to read this book – it’s an essential piece in understanding how we got where we are today, as a nation, but it’s also an amazing portrait of strength, resilience, and hope.

GW University Yard “The Other’s Gold” by Elizabeth Ames is one of my favorite recent reads set in and around a college. It’s the story of four women that begins the day that their friendship did: the first day of college. They have an immediate connection (always good with randomly assigned suitemates!), and the book follows them even as they scatter post-college. The book is divided into four parts, one for each of the women, centering on the “big mistake” that defines their lives. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is a great novel about the power of forgiveness, friendship, and college fun.

Honestly, this was the hardest category for me to narrow down, so I’m providing a few more “school-ish” books for consideration. If you like spooky secret societies, “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo is a great treat. If you like snarky social commentary, go with “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger. For a modern classic, you can’t do any better than “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.

Eastern Market I used to live in Southeast, and one of my favorite Saturday morning activities was to wander around Eastern Market with a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich; it’s actually something I would consider hopping on a bike for, tbh! There are so many inspiring food and grocery vendors at the market that make me want to go home and whip up a fancy meal, and so “Save Me the Plums” by Ruth Reichl seems like the obvious choice for a book recommendation here. Ruth Reichl is a food writer and critic (and prolific author), and this memoir tells the story of her days at the helm of Gourmet magazine. It’s a fascinating inside look at not only food culture, but also magazine publishing at its heyday. This is a quick and fun read that is only made better by a great snack

Thanks, Elizabeth! Be sure to give She’s Full of Lit a follow on their Instagram page (@shesfulloflit) for recommendations to stockpile your cozy reading nook with. Our staff at Bike and Roll has been reading this summer and have recommendations for you as well!

Georgia, Assistant Tour Manager: “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner

Oshaine, Operations Manager: “Destiny” by T.D. Jakes

Rachel, Rentals Manager: “The Goose Girl” by Shannon Hale

Robert, Assistant Tour Manager: “Red Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson

I have been reading “The Summons” by John Grisham. I found this book in a “Little Book Library” in my old neighborhood, Eckington. I was drawn to take this book home with me because it takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington D.C. As a recent D.C. transplant from The University of Virginia, I was thrilled to stumble upon a book that is split between my two homes. The book focuses on the sons of a powerful judge who dies suddenly after issuing a summons to visit and review the plans for his estate. What the two brothers discover in the wake of his passing forces them to question their father’s character, and later, their own.  “The Summons” proves once again, you can’t go wrong with Grisham.

  • “Red Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson

Now that you have some books and quintessentially DC spots to explore, what’s holding you back? Visit our rentals page or call to inquire about renting a bike from us today!

USE OFFER CODE “LIT” FOR $5 OFF A FULL DAY OR OVERNIGHT RENTAL!