Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is long and meaty enough to last eight days cycling (I checked). A mix of philosophy and semi-autobiographical account of a summer motorbike trip across the United States; Zen was a book I knew I would love before I read a single page.

There’s enough narrative to keep the more textbook-like elements from becoming tiring, at least for me. And the philosophy itself is sweeping, taking in everything from the ancient Greeks to identity, classification and the way we should live.

I found the book extremely interesting, despite not connecting with the main character, who is cold and uncaring towards his young son.

It certainly made me think about the way I think, and how easily I fit into his categories. Of a Romantic rather than Classic nature, I like the idea of certain activities or areas of study – from engineering to quantum mechanics – but not the practice.

The methodology and perspective required to enjoy such work seems elusive; I do not see the beauty in the way instruction manuals are put together, or in map-reading, or the precise moves which make up a sport.

I like things that are scattered and grouped by theme, rather than physical characteristic. The idea, formally presented, that there is another half of the world who do see these things, made me reconsider how I talk to that half.

It’s always enlightening and yet not surprising at all, how differently people can see the same reality.

Have you read Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Do you enjoy philosophizing?

PS: If you have any recommendations for books that will last a long time, I’d love to hear them. Last time I went travelling, I took Stephen King’s Under The Dome which worked very well.