Call it the butterfly-book effect. I recently re-read Barbara Kingsolver’s still-excellent 2012 novel Flight Behavior, which imagines the monarch migration gone amok due to climate change. (The book holds up remarkably well, and is rightly now considered a classic text of climate fiction.) So I think I had butterflies on the brain when I happened across Sara Dykman’s cycle-travel book Bicycling with Butterflies (2021) and decided to pick it up. The intersection of cycle-travel writing and environmentalism makes a certain sense: cycling and ecological or climate-change-related travel go well together. Perhaps this is part of a new trend; watch out for Riding with Rhinos and Pedalling with Pandas coming soon to a bookstore near you.
I’m only sort of joking. Activist-inspired travel writing, from Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene to Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction to Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine’s Last Chance to See are all part of new ways of thinking about the intersection of travel and environmentalism. But as I’m learning, getting the right balance between these two aspects can be tricky.