In my mind there are three types of cycling books for a bike racer: books you MUST read or you're missing out; books that are good to read and you learn something, but not essential; then books that you may as well not read unless you're interested in that specific subject.
Domestique falls pretty high in the good reads section. Charly's grit, determination, and his honest account of the highs and lows of a hard working professional cyclist in Italy were very interesting to me, as well as insightful. Take for example this bit about eating:
"To my amazement he broke off the conversation to look at his stomach in the mirror. Impressed by what he say as he pinched the skin he said to me 'See how skinny I am, Charly? You know the secret to how I get skinny?'
I had a feeling he was going to tell me regardless of my response. 'Er, no.'
'When I go home between races in the season, I don't eat food.'
'Yeah. I don't eat. No food at all. Nothing. I drink water and that's it. I get so ripped in the season, you should see me: I fly on the climbs.'
Throughout the year, I suffered. Mapei was an Italian team, but it was also very progressive in its outlook. De Nardis, however, were a basic Italian team who wanted to stick to their very simple traditional methods of getting their riders to go faster. Italians were crazy about being light, and they believed the only way to do it was to not eat. There was little room for real science, no room for accommodating the possibility of people having a metabolism that demanded more fuel than others. The team philosophy was simple: everyone eats as little as possible.
The real issue for me was that Italian riders were used to being treated like children to the point that they expected to be told when to stop eating. In another environment I could have gotten away with quietly eating a bit more, but at De Nardi (and many other teams) when we ate there would always be a masseur standing at the head of the table, watching everything, ready to go and tell the director sportive if anyone ate the wrong thing or, even worse, ate too much."
I'm interested in diet, so I found this particular section interesting, but there are others as well covering a full range of topics. What I appreciate about Charly's account is it feels very open and honest to me - it feels like I'm there seeing it myself.